In the coming weeks more than a million undergraduate students across the UK will ditch the Arctic cold of their HMO flats and head to a place where the heating is allowed on for more than four hours of the day; a place where the final instalments of Blue Planet can be watched on something bigger than a 13 inch laptop screen; where, if they’re really lucky, dinner might consist of more than a cup of coffee and Lidl own brand super noodles. They’ll head home.
Chances are you, dear reader, are one of them. Again, on the balance of probabilities, there is a one in four chance that as a first year you’re doing it for the first time. For many students it can come as a shock that family relations swiftly change (for better or for worse) in the first three months of university. One fourth year student recalls with horror the realisation over Christmas of his first year that his father was fond of telling dirty jokes: “Someone on the TV had broken his penis and keen to show off my new biological knowledge, I pointed out that you can’t technically break your penis as it isn’t a bone, to which he replied – well sometimes it is”.
While it can be uncomfortable to have parents who have become too relaxed around us, you might also want to prepare for the eventuality of elders who expect things to be just as before your departure, and who think everything in your life is still under their domain. You’re an adult now, mum, and it’s not unreasonable to want to be respected as such. If faced with this situation, try simply explaining that being regarded as a child is upsetting you. If this doesn’t work, the 2013 study from the University of Mary Washington, Virginia, showing that over-controlling parents make their offspring depressed, ought to go down a treat.
Equally important to brace yourself for is the impact technology will have on the range of topics discussed at home. Even if your parents are hip enough to understand the concept of Tinder, you may still find yourself forced to justify your use of it, or lie about how you and your new hot piece met. At the other, paticularly dark end of the spectrum lies the possibility of having to explain new developments in computing to your maw and paw. Third year Hannah for instance recoils as she relives the memory of being forced to define a Fleshlight for her mum.
If you’re struggling this festive season, do allow yourself to find strength in numbers – remember that as many as 72 per cent of young people aged between 18 and 25 refuse to be Facebook friends with their parents, so you’re not alone, no matter what yours say. Of course at the end of the day you love your family, and you cherish time spent with them – but try to keep this in mind as you avoid political discussions over Christmas dinner with a clan who get further right-wing with every ascending generation.
Image: Negative Space vie Pexels