The Ultimate Guide to Living Peacefully With Your Teen College Student This Winter Break

When teenagers go away to college, they often experience a new level of independence and freedom, which can make it difficult for them to readjust to being back home, regardless of how thrilled they are to see their family again. So here are some valuable suggestions for coexisting peacefully with your college-going teenager during this winter break.

Are you expecting your college-going teenager to return home for the winter break? If that’s the case, you may be experiencing a range of emotions, from excitement to see your child again to anxiety about how things might feel different this time around.

Having your child back home is undoubtedly a delightful event, but the dynamics between parent and child may have changed since they left for college. In addition, your teenager has likely grown accustomed to a newfound level of independence and liberty, making it potentially difficult for them to readjust to being back home, despite their excitement to see you. However, with some intention and thoughtfulness, it is still possible to establish boundaries and rules and coexist peacefully during this winter break.

Be honest and open with your teen.

To foster a harmonious living environment during the winter break, initiating an honest and transparent conversation with your teenager about your feelings and expectations for their visit is crucial. In addition, it is essential to take the time to convey your excitement and joy about their return and how much you’ve missed them. Even if teenagers may not always acknowledge it, they will undoubtedly appreciate knowing that they are missed.


Additionally, it is important to communicate to your teenager that although the household rules may have changed since their high school days, there will still be certain expectations that need to be upheld for the sake of fairness amongst all members of the household. During this conversation, it would be worthwhile to discuss matters such as the use of vehicles, expected attendance for family gatherings, how expenses will be managed, household chores, and curfew guidelines.

Make plans for the whole family in advance.

While your college-going teenager will undoubtedly be delighted to reunite with you during the winter break, they will also be eager to reconnect with their friends from back home. If you intend to spend meaningful time together as a family, it is crucial to communicate the specifics of when this family time will occur. Without a clear schedule in place, your teenager may inadvertently make plans with their friends during the time you had hoped to spend together.


Discussing and planning family time with your teenager before or at the start of the winter break is recommended. Offer them options for scheduling quality time together and collaborate on planning when these activities will occur. Family plans can be as simple as watching a sports game or going on a nature walk together.

If feasible, you may also consider arranging one or two special outings, such as visiting a favorite restaurant, seeing a show, or taking a day trip. This approach honors your teenager’s growing independence by considering their schedule and including them in the decision-making process.

Make your house a teen-friendly hang-out.

It is important to understand that just because your college-going teenager wants to spend time with their friends or significant other, it does not necessarily mean they have to be away from home. Therefore, it would be beneficial to communicate to your teenager that not only are their friends welcome at your house, but you also encourage them to invite their friends over. This approach not only fosters a sense of inclusivity and socialization but also benefits everyone involved.


By extending invitations to friends for activities like dinner, movie nights, or game nights at home, you can create a fun and inclusive atmosphere for everyone. This approach allows you to respect your teenager’s desire to socialize with friends while also spending time with them without having to choose between the two options.

Talk to your teen about winter break responsibilities

While some college-going teenagers may perceive winter break as a break from responsibilities, it is essential for parents to acknowledge that maintaining a certain level of structure and responsibility is still crucial for their teenagers. For example, if your teenager previously worked a part-time job locally before going to college, it would be wise to check with them if they have contacted their former employer to pick up some shifts during the winter break. This approach can help your teenager to be financially responsible and also provide them with a much-needed sense of routine during their break.


If your teenager is unable to work during the winter break, consider researching some volunteer opportunities for them. Volunteering as a family is a great way to spend quality time with your teen and also provide them with structure and responsibility during the break. It can also be an opportunity for your teen to invite friends to join and have a positive space to socialize.

Some easy volunteer options include shoveling snow or yard cleanup for elderly neighbors, stocking shelves at a local food pantry, or visiting a nearby senior center.

Give your teen a few household assignments.

Assigning household tasks to your college teen during winter break serves several purposes: it keeps her occupied, encourages her to contribute to the family, and prevents potential trouble. This is particularly useful if you won’t be at home due to work commitments. Tasks like decluttering closets and other spaces in the house, such as the attic, basement, or garage, are great options that require time and keep your teen active.

Additionally, the whole family benefits from a cleaner and more organized home. Finally, for those without outside work lined up, this is also an opportunity for them to earn some extra spending money.


By engaging in some basic planning, transparent communication, creating a schedule that everyone agrees upon, and adding a bit of structure, you can ensure that your college teen’s time at home during the winter break is well-spent with your family. In addition, when you respect your teen’s newfound independence, they will appreciate your efforts to provide them with a pleasant and fulfilling winter break.