With the holidays underway this year, I thought it would be a great time to add some perspective. Although it’s nice to be away from constant assignments, testing, and the overall stress that comes with college, it doesn’t always mean going back home for the holidays is the best experience. For a large majority of students we’re prepping our answers for some very uncomfortable questions.

We’re not looking forward to dreadful moments while interacting with family. The comments on our appearance, hearing “how’s school going?” a million times, or if you’re nearing the end of your school career is a lot. Getting asked “what are your next steps?” can be very draining. Especially if you don’t have the answers to these questions yet yourself. 

It’s tricky for the student, and for the immediate family. Getting adjusted to being back at home after living on your own rules for months is a real thing. Still trying to hang on to your new found adulthood while your parents might be restricting rites of freedom you picked up while you were away can be frustrating. parents have to adjust by having to get accustomed to a completely different person from who they remembered when they dropped their child off at school.

For students, the most important thing we can do during this time is to protect our peace, and insert healthy boundaries with our people at home. For parents, it’s about learning to respect and give space to your child who’s taking the path of growing into their adulthood. 

For my fellow students, don’t feel bad for wanting to declare space for yourself or wanting to make sure you’re prioritizing time to kick it with your friends! You just had a very long semester. You probably have dealt with some life altering experiences, and you deserve that time to  relax with people. It’s also important to just have time to yourself. Be away from friends, family, distant family that come during the holidays. You deserve a break from all that as well. If you’re able to advocate for yourself to have that space don’t feel ashamed to. If you have work that you need to finish while you’re on break, try to work on a good schedule that will give you enough time to still focus on yourself. Be vocal about the times you’re going to need to study to try to incorporate possible quiet hours where family members know not to bother you. 

For my parents out there, understand your child has gone through a lot of stress within the past couple of months. Try to give them some time and space to recuperate. I know you miss your kid. And I’m sure you want to bring them with you to family events. Understand that this is their break away from constant movement and activity. There are going to be a lot of days where all they want to do is lay down. Believe it or not, most of the time it’s nothing personal – they just weren’t able to do that at school.

Be a listening ear, sometimes all your child wants to do is talk and vent about how challenging their semester was. Be accepting of who your child is becoming. They won’t be the exact same from you last saw them. Avoid making comments on their appearance, or the different things they might be doing. This is a trial and error phase for them, give them that space to find themselves without any judgement.

Most importantly, for any students reading this, always  prioritize your overall mental health in these tricky and challenging environments. The last thing you need is more stress added on to your plate after having a rough semester. This would be a good time to practice inserting healthy boundaries when you get asked those inevitable questions. If you’re able to miss out on a few family gatherings to put yourself first, don’t feel bad for doing so. You’re coming back home to have a break from school, this is your time. Make sure you’re making the best out of it.

Alycia Kamil is a freedom fighter and believer of the people. She is a Freshman at Wilbur Wright College. Follow her writings, interests and more here.