Transitioning Home for the Summer
Meg Hammes, Director of Counseling Service May 11, 2023
Originally published on May 12, 2022.
Parents are most accustomed to using the word “transition” to mean moving away from us in some way (i.e. transition to kindergarten, high school, college). So, it may seem different to hear coming home be referred to as a transition. However, everything in students’ lives (increased level of independence, schedule, friends, sense of freedom, sense of identity, interests, skills, etc.) may have changed throughout this last academic year.
Often, parents expect life at home during the summer to default back to the way things were when their student was in high school. Since being apart, parents may not have witnessed all of the changes and growth students have made. Parents have likely changed in many ways as well and students may also be holding an inaccurate expectation that things are the same! The transition impacts everyone in the household and the best way for it to go as smoothly as possible is to have a direct conversation around everyone’s expectations.
It’s best to include all household members in these conversations, if possible. Here are a few topics parents and students should consider discussing before, or immediately after, returning home.
Division of Household Responsibilities
What types of chores will you each be responsible for? Who will handle cleaning, laundry, meal prep, dishes, vehicle maintenance, lawn care, pet care, etc.?
How and how often will you check in with each other? What methods of communication will you regularly use (e.g. text, phone, in person)? How much do you each want to know each person’s schedule throughout the day? Which situations will require an update and which will not?
What things are the student responsible for paying for? What are the parent’s expectations for the student around work? What type of access will the student have to family vehicles?
What are the expectations around spending quality time together? How are each of you envisioning spending your time throughout the summer? Are there important plans you want one another to be aware of up front? Are visitors allowed at the house? Curfews?
College is stressful, and students may need a bit of time to “recover” (this can include long periods of sleep!). We would recommend parents allow students to have some recovery time before they start back to the “home routine.”
Encouraging students to stay in touch with the friends they have made at Luther is important for them to feel connected. Some students have shifted away from their high school friends and may have an increased sense of isolation when they return home. Dynamics change. Parents may have had an opportunity to experience some new found freedoms since students have been away. Thinking through these changes can be just as important as thinking about how to support each other.
Health Care Needs
With big transitions, it’s important to check in about any changes to physical and mental health care needs. If a student takes any prescription medications, do they have a plan for how they will get any refills? Do they need to transfer their care to another provider temporarily?
Counseling Services provides direct services to students during the academic year only. Starting in December 2021, Counseling Service has expanded their services to best serve student needs by including support from a program called MySSP. MySSP gives all enrolled Luther students free access to mental health support worldwide. This includes:
- 24/7 real-time phone and chat support from professional counselors
- Multilingual support options
- Short term mental health counseling by appointment
- Virtual fitness sessions
- Self-help resources
Students can access this resource by downloading the MySSP app or calling 1-866-743-7732.
We are really excited about offering and how it removes any barriers to access to mental health care as all enrolled students have access to this for free anywhere in the world!
For Domestic Students
If students would prefer to seek mental health counseling in their communities, start by contacting your health insurance provider to review benefits and see if they have a list of approved providers. Next, seek out an approved provider that feels like a good fit and has availability.
For Students Living in an Area With Limited Resources
Since the pandemic, many mental health providers offer tele-mental health services and students can seek out any licensed provider within their state that offers this mode of service. An additional resource to search for therapists is https://www.psychologytoday.com/us.
Enjoy Getting Reacquainted!
As students transition home, families should take time to get to know one another again. Ask each other about beliefs, experiences, and interests. Students will likely have changed from the human parents once knew them to be. Parents too may have developed new relationships, engaged in new interests or had major changes in their lives. Adjusting to change can be challenging for us all. We don’t need to label change as good or bad. We can expect that it will happen, and try to have grace with one another, communicate openly and non judgmentally, and keep a sense of humor.