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  • Writer's pictureSarah Santiago

Home For The Summer: Finding Peace While Living With Your Parents



Summer break is half over, the excitement of being back home has likely worn off and you may find that navigating relationships with your parents can sometimes be challenging. You may be missing your friends from college and the freedom of living on your own. But living at home for the summer doesn't have to suck!


One of my favorite therapists, Esther Perel, talks about how in each of our long term relationships, we will have many different relationships. This is true with our parents. Your relationship with your parents is different today from when you were a newborn baby, and it's different from when you were in middle school. Certainly some aspects of your relationship can be the same, but as each of you grows and your independence develops, your relationship with your parents will evolve and change into new relationships. Living at home with your parents is an opportunity to establish a new relationship with your parents since you've had time away at college to be more independent and self reliant than ever. It can feel weird at first to adjust to this new relationship with your parents, but remember that they have not lived with you since high school, they may need time to get to know you in this stage of your life.


Here are some tips to help you to make the most of this summer while nurturing positive connections with your parents.


1. Open The Lines Of Communication:


Effective communication forms the foundation of any healthy relationship. When living under the same roof as your parents, open and honest dialogue is essential. Start by expressing your desire to maintain a harmonious and loving connection. Seek moments when both you and your parents are relaxed and open to discuss thoughts and feelings. Remember, active listening and empathy are key to successful communication.


If you find that talks at home can lead to arguments, try having the conversation outside of your house in a neutral setting. Go to a coffee shop, or take a walk together. Try a conversation over a game of card or while doing an activity that uses your hands like gardening or painting ceramics at a studio.


If you find yourself feeling flooded with emotions, take a moment to cool off. Go to the bathroom and ground yourself with some deep breaths, acknowledge your feelings and remember your goals. Remind yourself that you have no control over your parent's feelings and behaviors, but you are responsible for how you react to your emotions and your parent's behaviors. You can choose to respond in a more productive way, but it can take some practice.


2. Seek Understanding:


You may feel misunderstood by your parents, and they likely feel the same. Work to understand where they are coming from and try to give them an opportunity to attempt to understand you. Respecting boundaries is crucial for maintaining healthy relationships. As a college student, you may have experienced newfound independence, which can sometimes clash with your parents' expectations. Take the time to understand their perspective, acknowledging their concern for your well-being. Show gratitude for their support and demonstrate empathy towards their worries, even if you may not fully agree. By fostering mutual respect, you can bridge the generation gap and build a foundation of trust.


3. Establish Your Own Boundaries:


While respecting your parents' boundaries is important, it is equally vital to establish your own. As you've grown, your needs and preferences may have evolved. Communicate openly about your desire for personal space, privacy, and the need for some independence. Setting boundaries will allow you to strike a healthy balance between your family life and your personal growth. When discussing your boundaries, emphasize that they are not meant to dismiss or reject your parents, but rather to promote a healthier dynamic within the family.


Remember that boundaries are not about controlling someone's behavior, but about what you are going to do to keep yourself in a healthy space. For example: "you need to stop talking to me like that" is not a boundary, a healthy boundary may instead sound like: "I don't let people yell at me; if you choose to talk to me that way I am going to walk away from this conversation". The latter example clarifies what action you are going to take and helps the other person clearly understand what to expect if they choose not to respect your boundary.


4. Seek Common Ground:

Discovering shared interests or activities can help strengthen your bond with your parents. Engaging in hobbies, outings, or even trying new experiences together can create meaningful connections. Be open to exploring their perspectives, and encourage them to understand yours. Finding common ground fosters understanding, appreciation, and strengthens the emotional connection you share. Summers at home are some of the last times you may live with your parents as you move closer to being a fully independent adult. Consider the memories you would like to make during these final times living at home.


5. Cultivate Self-Care and Emotional Support:


Living at home for the summer might come with a mix of emotions. It's important to prioritize your mental health and well-being. Engage in self-care practices that bring you joy and help you recharge. Reach out to friends, mentors, or even a licensed mental health professional if you need additional support or guidance during this transitional period. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength.


Your summer at home can be a time of growth, connection, and self-discovery. By nurturing effective communication, respecting and establishing boundaries, and seeking common ground with your parents, you can create a harmonious and fulfilling environment. Embrace this opportunity to strengthen your relationships, cultivate understanding, and build a foundation of love and support that will extend far beyond your time at home. You've got this!


*Please know that I am not talking about unhealthy, toxic, or abusive relationships here. It's an unfortunate reality that many people have parents who cause them harm. It's important to keep yourself safe and seek help and support if you have an unhealthy relationship with your parents/family.


Note: This blog post is not intended to replace professional advice. If you are experiencing severe anxiety or mental health issues, it is recommended to consult with a licensed mental health professional. If you are in a crisis, please seek help immediately. National Domestic Violence Hotline: Call: 800-799-7233 Text*: START to 88788 TTY: 800-787-3224 Chat: https://thehotline.org


About the author: Sarah Santiago is a licensed professional counselor in Michigan. She provides therapy to Michigan college students and emerging adults (ages 18-29) virtually. Her specialties include helping clients work through anxiety, eating disorders, and improving self-confidence.




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