For Freshmen. By Freshmen.
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Nov 23 2016
by Mia Renee Cole

5 Parents Share How to Deal with Family at Thanksgiving

By Mia Renee Cole - Nov 23 2016
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Thanksgiving can be both a relaxing and a stressful time for any college student. You get time away from school and, instead, find yourself surrounded by family (that you love dearly), asking you the same questions over and over again. We all dread Thanksgiving dinner, and there's no shame in that; however, there are social rules to follow while eating dinner with your fam. Here's some advice from real-life parents on how to survive your family at Thanksgiving. After all, they were in your shoes once too. 

1. Focus on football.

"In the past we have focused on football and the rule has been no politics at least at the dinner table. Thanksgiving should be a time to come together and reflect on love and gratitude. Love one another unconditionally... tolerance starts at home." — Mother of a University of Georgia Student

Finding a common ground among everyone is important in staying away from risky topics. Things like football, television and childhood stories are great alternatives to politics and super personal questions.

2. You're not alone.

"Well... I would love to help, but I have no idea what to say. I am dreading spending Friday with my in-laws because I am anticipating the same awkward topics. I dread it every year. So, I don't have any good advice. I need to read your article when you get done, to get advice for myself." — Mother of a Clemson University Student

Sadly, parents don't have the answers to everything. Take comfort in knowing that you're not alone in dreading Thanksgiving dinner. Just stick by their side and you'll make it out together!

3. Act like a family. 

"In our family we have a lot of personal opinions and they differ greatly at times. Something that I've tried to teach my kids is that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, no matter if you agree with it or not. So you listen, you discuss and you're always respectful, because they have just as much right to feel they way they do as you. And always remember that we are a family and we will act as such." — Mother of a Wake Forest University Student

Respecting everyone's opinions is key in a respectable conversation. If politics or other controversial topics do come up at dinner, remember that everyone is entitled to their opinions. And at the end of the day, you're still family. 

4. This is different for everyone.

"I'm so glad to see my daughter but I don't know how to transition my young adult back into something that used to be familiar to me. What used to be familiar is now new again." — Father of a UNC Chapel Hill Student

Coming home for the first time since college to your whole family isn't just awkward for you — it's awkward for everyone else as well. It's different for everyone, so bear with them. Be patient and understanding.

5. Use charm. 

"My mom will ask [my son] the same questions at Thanksgiving dinner that she asks him every conversation she has with him like, 'How are your grades?' 'Do you like your roommates?' 'Have they given you any cabinet space or are you still keeping food in your closet?' She LOVES [him] (all the grandkids say that he is the favorite) so my advice to him would be to answer all questions BEFORE she can ask them while giving her the smile that shows both his dimples. She'll move on after the dimples..." — Mother of a University of Tennessee Student

Sometimes being ahead of the game is key. As this mother put it, answer all of your family's questions before they can ask them. This way it's less awkward and less focused on you. Flash 'em a smile in the end and you'll win them over. It's as simple as that.

Thanksgiving can seem super stressful for the new college student, but remember that you're not alone. Others have gone through this same transition and they can offer you great advice. Sometimes your parents are actually great sources for information!

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Mia Renee Cole - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Mia Renee is currently the Senior Editor with Fresh U and a student at UNC Chapel Hill, where she is studying Spanish and French. In her free time she enjoys knitting, photography and drinking hot tea while writing on her personal blog. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @miareneecole or her blog at!

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