January 20, 2018

What to do when your student doesn’t come home for the holidays

This Christmas will only be the second one that I’ve spent without my oldest daughter Amber. I’ve known for about the past four months that she plans on going to Texas because her oldest sister is having a baby around Christmas Day. As the day approaches I feel more and more dread about her Christmas-time absence… Over the past 19 and a half years we’ve established traditions that have not only solidified our relationship but that we really look forward to each year. Honestly, the holiday season is not the same without my baby. Yes, I have other children who are ages 7, 5 and 3, but the traditions I’ve developed with them have always included Amber.

What this has made me come to grips with is that my daughter is very close to totally leading a separate life from me. This, of course, is not a bad thing. It’s what I’ve been raising her to do, right? It’s the beginning of my so called empty nest.

How, during such a memory-filled and special time of the year, will I and other parents like me deal with the absence of adult children during the holidays? Well, I’m glad you asked because I have some tips to make it easier:

  1. Talk to your children ahead of time about their plans. Don’t assume they will be spending the holidays with you as usual. That will only lead to disappointment when they announcement their roommate invited them to go skiing for the weekend or they plan on visiting other relatives.
  2. Make alternative plans. Have a discussion about something the two of you can do to begin new traditions. It may be meeting for a Christmas lunch, having a family get together on another day or exchanging gifts on New Year’s Day.
  3. Invite the interlopers. 🙂 If your child is starting to spend time with their significant others’ family then you want to be sure to invite them for other events or holidays. That way you get your face time as well. And, most importantly, it behooves you to make this as easy as possible for your child so they don’t feel torn between the people they care about the most.
  4. Record the details. Start a photographic journal, blog or other means of sharing your events and holidays. For instance, buy a large journal with blank pages to paste photos in and write details of your Christmas or holiday celebrations then pass it on to your child. They in turn do the same thing (in their own way) and pass it back. That way you – and they – feel like they’re apart of the festivities.

Keep in mind as you adjust to these changes that’s this is only the beginning. When your children get married and/or have children of  their own there will be new traditions to begin. Happy Holidays and congratulations on raising such a wonderful, independent child(ren).

First-time college mom

About the Author: Petula Wright (23 Posts)

Petula Wright has about 17 years experience as an editor and writer who has written and provided editorial services for publications, organizations and individuals. Based in the Atlanta area, she continues to write web content and maintain her blog It’s a woman’s world at PetulaW.com. She says, “Writing is a joy and not a job.” If you need a writer or editor, she can be reached at petulawrites@comcast.net.

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