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Warm Winter Thoughts

Dear SNC Parents and Friends:

I know it’s hard to believe, but in a few short weeks your sons and daughters will be arriving home for winter break. This may seem mind-boggling to you parents of freshmen, since I’m sure it feels like only yesterday you drove that packed sedan to campus and moved your eager students into their first dorm room.

Now, to all outward purposes, the students returning to your homes will be the same sons and daughters you left here in late August. But you’ll likely notice subtle differences, and it will be important for you to take note of them as you become reacquainted. What kinds of differences?

Your “kids” are no longer kids. They are taking their first steps toward becoming independent young adults. They are learning to manage their time and taking responsibility for their schedules and classwork. They are teasing out their interests and deciding what organizations to join. They are realizing you can’t have pizza four times a day. They are starting to reconcile their academic pursuits with their own worldviews.

Here at St. Norbert, they have not had someone looking over their shoulders all the time; they’ve had room to breathe. So when they come back under your roof, they will want – and expect – a comparable level of freedom. And Mom and Dad, you’ll need to summon the trust to give them that.

Chances are you will discover a pleasant corollary to this situation, which is that your sons and daughters are turning into interesting people. When they were high school seniors, they perhaps “conversed” with you mostly in grunts and eye rolls. Now they’ll likely prefer communicating in complete sentences. Current events may suddenly interest them. They may even be curious about what you think regarding various issues. Take my word for it as one who shepherded four through college – it happens!

You must take care not to smother them – no matter how much you have missed them – and not freak out if they stay out past 11 p.m. when they go see their old friends. But don’t ignore them, either. One of the things that’s happening while they’re here this fall is that they are beginning to realize maybe their parents know something after all. Maybe some of the things you did before that felt like punishments were, in fact, acts of love. Indeed, they will want to spend some time with you. And that is your true gift – maybe, in fact, the best Christmas gift of all.

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s season surrounded by family and friends. See you on the other side.

Tom

 

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