Thanksgiving for birds who flew the nest

This Thanksgiving, 15.5 million US college students will head home. When young people return to their families after an autumn away, expectations often run high. And anxieties from Sept. 11 may color the mood of this year's holiday season. Here are tips for parents for enjoying time together and avoiding conflict.

• Remember that your child is returning home from a world of sudden freedom and constant contact with peers. She may have changed, and you might have to renegotiate traditions and attitudes you considered "givens."

• Despite those changes, many freshmen hope that everything at home will be exactly the same; alterations to family tradition - or even to their bedrooms - can cause trouble, so be ready for discussion, and compromise.

• Your child's peers will be home for the holidays, too, and eager to socialize - perhaps as soon as your child arrives. Discuss expectations for family time, curfews, and Thanksgiving Day.

• If your child is reluctant to return to school, help him face the trip with courage, regardless of your own anxiety. Talk about the future - and future time together - as you say goodbye.

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