Newswise — Just a few weeks ago you were anxiously counting the days until your precious child came home from college. Now you just can't wait to restore the peace in your home and get the kid back to school again.

"Often when young adults come home for their first extended leave from college, there can be some conflict in the family," says Heather Stewart, LCSW, a social worker and primary clinician at The Menninger Clinic. "Roles have changed while the young adult has been away at school. The young adult has had a sense of becoming a true adult. They've tested the waters on their own and have set new boundaries like self-inflicted curfews. Where the conflict comes in to play is when these boundaries are not completely in line with the parents' wants."

Stewart says some parents may struggle with still wanting to provide structure for the child and maintain the control in the relationship. At the onset of summer, many parents have preconceived notions of reverting back to the way things were when their child was in high school. However, the young adult may feel stifled by the attention. They have spent the last few months gaining independence and moving towards adulthood.

"A parent may see the young adult staying up late and they are worried that their child is not getting enough sleep. Or perhaps the young adult is taking full advantage of the summer break and is just lying around the house during the day. It can be frustrating for a parent," says Stewart.

One suggestion Stewart has for parents is to set up a meeting before things get out of control.

"The best time for the meeting to take place is at the beginning of the summer before there is ever even a problem," she says. "However, it's never too late to sit down together and talk about expectations for the remainder of the summer; just make sure you schedule the meeting and that it doesn't take place during the heat of an argument."

Stewart encourages both parties to put some thought into what outcomes they would like to see take place. She says that parents need to come up with their game plan and what they want accomplished. Things to consider may include the following:

* Do you want the young adult to contribute to the household either through chores or a financial contribution?* Are there transportation issues that need to be considered such as agreements over borrowing the family car?* Will there be curfews in place and is it okay for the young adult to spend the night at a friend's home?* What type of daily structure do you see for the young adult such as summer college courses, a paid job, or perhaps a volunteer position? "Opening the dialogue with something like 'this is what I'm seeing and this is why I'm concerned,' may give the young adult a clearer understanding of the parents' feelings," Stewart said. "In return, let them know you are not trying to control them but are working to support them on this journey of independence and responsibility."

Stewart says it is important for a young adult to take into account that their parents' have their own lives. Be prepared to compromise on issues such as curfews, realizing that on weeknights, parents are obligated to get up the next morning and go to work.

"If the young adult wants to be seen as an adult, they need to be willing to take the necessary steps toward proving their maturity to parents," said Stewart. A few suggestions for a young adult to keep in mind:

* Take the time to help around the house. Don't expect your parents to wait on you.* Come home when you say you will. Call if you are not going to be able to meet curfew. * Your friends may be welcome in the home only at certain times.* If you choose not to be employed, consider taking up a hobby, learning a new skill or volunteering.

"Volunteering can have tremendous benefits for the young adult," Stewart says. "It can help you connect socially with others, taking you out of your element and giving you exposure to a different side of life."

The family meeting will be a time to discuss these ideas. The biggest pitfall to families, Stewart says, is if the meeting turns into a power struggle. If that becomes the case, she suggests involving a third party such as a family friend. A therapist may also need to be brought in for conflicts that just can't seem to be resolved.

"This is a time of transition for everyone and it can be difficult," says Stewart.

"But it should also be a time of excitement. You are getting to experience your child in a whole new way. They're just beginning to spread their wings. Acknowledge this change, this shift to adulthood and choose to celebrate it."

About The Menninger ClinicThe Menninger Clinic is a nonprofit international specialty psychiatric center, providing treatment, research and education. Founded in 1925 in Kansas, Menninger relocated to Houston in 2003 and is affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine. Since 1991, Menninger has been named among the leading psychiatric hospitals in U.S.News & World Report's annual ranking of America's Best Hospitals. Menninger is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.

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