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Winter break? Ha!

Parents and college students often have different expectations of winter break, said Sharon Mitchell, director of counseling services at the University at Buffalo.

"Students have just come out of finals, they're exhausted and they pretty much might just want to sit around the house all day and not do a whole lot," Mitchell observed. "Parents, meanwhile, may want them involved in the normal holiday activities, not to mention chores and helping around the house."

Household duties may not be the only element stuck in a time warp, said Mitchell. The returning student may discover that former rules and expectations about curfews also remain the same.

"Students must realize they're in their parents' home so it may not be OK to stay out all night," said Mitchell. "From a parent's perspective, especially if there are younger children in the home, parents don't want to explain why one of their children is out all night while the 17-year-old can't do that."

Bottom line?

"It's really negotiating how much time is spent with family and how much time will they be able to do things with their own friends. Students should let their parents know they need down time.

"You may not be able to do all the things you do in school," Mitchell added. "To the extent that people can have these conversations ahead of time, the better everybody will be. With Christmas a week away, there's still time to have a lot of these discussions of what people want versus reality."

-- Jane Kwiatkowski

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