Parents! How to Prepare for your Columbia Student’s Return Home

Categories: For the Soul

Tonia Martens served as Columbia’s Development Events Coordinator until 2018. Her daughter attended Columbia, graduating from the Youth Work program. Tonia is now the Program Director for Southern Alberta Bible Camp.

We have had the privilege of having our daughter attend Columbia Bible College. She finished her Bachelor in Youth Work degree over 5 years, moving through a number of seasons of life – living in residence, living at home, internship, married and local, and married and distant!

With three adult children plus one high school senior, the balance of expectations for the holidays is paramount. As you anticipate your student coming home (or

possibly not coming home) for the Christmas break, here are some of the things I recommend.


Communicate lots, and clearly.

  • Check in on what plans they may have already made or are anticipating.
  • Clearly indicate the family plans that are in place and which ones you would prefer them to be present for, allowing some flexibility.
  • Have some of your own plans.
  • House rules – what still stands and what must change with this new stage of family life.
  • Let them know they were missed, but also released!
  • Think about your words.
  • Stop talking and listen.


Adjust your expectations.

  • Let them sleep! It is an exhausting number of weeks running up to this ‘break’.
  • They have been independent for months, but may have forgotten how to put the dishes in the dishwasher. Help, but don’t over help. Find ways to remind that don’t demean or nag.
  • They WILL have changed. Observe, enjoy, engage discussion, listen. Some of those changes may not be how you wanted or expected. Let it be.
  • You and your home WILL have changed. Recognize it, acknowledge it, talk about it.
  • You and your student will have expectations on your schedules, traditions, and plans.
  • Clearly express your expectations and clearly listen to theirs.


Keep it Simple

  • Have lots of food in the house, especially their favorites!
  • Have fun!
  • Pray!
  • Ask good questions!  Listen! Share your lives and stories, too.


What if they AREN’T coming home?

  • Let them know you are disappointed – ONCE! No guilt trips. Express your joy of having them around and let them know that they are missed and loved!
  • Be excited for their plans. Ask questions – Realize that this means someone else likes your kids and wants them to be around, too!
  • Consider alternative plans. Travel to them, change day of celebrations, etc. But accept the ‘no thanks’ as you would from any other adult.
  • Make your own plans. Change is hard, but can bring so many great new opportunities!
Blessings as you approach and navigate this season ahead! Enjoy the beautiful chaos of being all together, if that is your reality! We at Columbia Bible College are praying for our students and their families over this Christmas Season.