“Hey Dad! Umm…I was wondering, would it be cool if Bert* celebrated Christmas with us this year?” [Silence.] Of course my dad wasn’t ‘cool’ with an older guy he’d never met staying in his house. He only agreed to it after I promised he’d sleep in the basement—with the door locked. Things were what I considered ‘serious’ with Bert, and I couldn’t stand the thought of being without him during Marquette’s month-long winter break. Thanks to Dad, now I wouldn’t have to.
Being a good host is very important, here’s what you could do if your son or daughter wants to bring someone special home (so you won’t embarrass your kid like my Dad embarrassed me):
- Try to meet (or at least talk to) your son or daughter’s guest before they’re sleeping in your home. It’ll help everyone feel a bit more comfortable. Oh, and be sure to discuss sleeping arrangements before they arrive.
- Talk to them; don’t interrogate them. Ask your child details about their boyfriend or girlfriend beforehand; this way you can spend time chatting with—not questioning—them when they get there. And stick to safe topics like their hometown, major and interests (at least for the first visit).
- Suggest your kid prep their significant other about what to expect during their visit. If your husband sleepwalks, maybe they should be aware of that. If Grandma Virginia is deaf in one ear, yep, they should probably know that too.
- Ask if they have any allergies you should know about. If they’re deathly allergic to cats, you may want to keep Fifi in your bedroom during their visit and vacuum the house (extra) thoroughly.
If the opposite is the case, and your college kid is going over to their house here are some tips you can share with your kid before they leave to their boyfriend or girlfriend’s home:
- Teach your child how to start a conversation. Whether they’re freaking out or cool as a cucumber, it’s important that they show interest in their significant other’s family. And showing interest usually involves making conversation and asking questions. Pictures on the fridge are great conversation starters, but also suggest they come prepared with some non-controversial topics to discuss—it’ll save them from some potentially awkward moments of silence.
- Remind them to be on their best behavior and mind their Ps and Qs…and their potty mouth. Manners can disappear in college, so make sure they pay special attention to what they’re saying and how they’re saying it. Even if their special someone’s family swears like a bunch of sailors, it may be in their best interest to avoid vulgar language (at least until they’ve gotten to know the family better).
- Suggest they bring a small gift. They needn’t try to compete with Santa or anything; something small that says ‘thank you’ is perfect. One of my boyfriends gave my parents and very Polish grandparents each a burned CD of beautiful Polish Christmas songs—they loved it.
The more the merrier, right? So as long as you and your college kid have discussed and agreed upon the details, a visit from their special someone can brighten everyone’s holiday.
*Names have been changed to spare my ex some embarrassment.