The beginning of the end…
She's coming home. Three weeks to go. But dinner has a time schedule again...she wants you to buy humus...she keeps calling uni ‘home’!! Awkward. She is back for Christmas but now your lifestyle patterns (and even personalities) have suddenly become very alien to each other.
It’s the beginning of the end of how it was.
If dropping off young people at uni is the start of them having their own lives, year 1 Christmas is the start of living that reality. "When they come home things will be different for you all" - youth workers have a brilliant opportunity to stand with both parents and students as they return and reconnect. Here’s some advice:
Start reconnecting now.
Text your freshers now. Let them know you’re looking forward to having them back and that you hope they have an amazing end of term.
Plan some joy.
Many young people find it difficult to know where they fit when they return to their home church. Plan things they can be a part of to help them belong again. Invite them for coffee and give them a chance to debrief without judgement and with much encouragement. Parents who are engaged with church will be really grateful that others are helping them reconnect too.
Celebrate with them.
Why not get your home students to share 5 min stories of uni life at church or youth group? This is a great way to affirm their independence and experience of God in their own life.
“[Parents] don’t expect that you will feel at ease immediately…Keep in prayer for them (obviously) and remind them that home is a safe retreat and that you will not smother their new sense of independence in life” Stuart Blount, parent & Senior Pastor at CLC Birmingham
“Parenting young adults is a new skill for empty nesters…No longer able to give advice unless asked, being supportive without problem solving for their children” – Liz West, parent
“When they come home things will be different for you all…We found it best to articulate, letting them know we appreciated that it was frustrating for them. At the same time we felt the need to gently remind them that in our house there were certain things we appreciated” – Nadine Parkinson, parent and leader of New Wine North
Share encouragement with parents and opportunities with returning students, talk and play and rejoice in their new lives. As they come home, they are still your responsibility and you still have that great opportunity to speak into their lives. Take it!
For a great resource for parents and youth workers supporting young people as they leave home, check out University: The Big Challenge