This weekend, curious relatives will likely bombard you with questions about your grades, your relationship status and everything in between. Ease your parents’ worries with our guide to surviving dreaded family conversations.
Question: How are you doing in your classes?
How to answer: When it comes to grades, it may be better to play up how hard you’re working instead of how well you’re doing. Instead of raising your parents’ expectations and putting pressure on yourself to meet them, leave yourself some breathing room by talking about how hard you’ve been studying.
But don’t be afraid to brag about that “A” you earned on your first paper – you should be proud of your accomplishments, and your parents will be too.
Question: What are your classes like?
How to answer: Rather than simply reciting the syllabus, talk specifics. Mention your favorite topics so far and don’t be afraid to delve into the details.
If there’s a class that you don’t like or a professor whose lectures leave you scrolling through Facebook, it might be better not to mention it at all than spend the entire conversation complaining. Focus on the good when you have them here in person. Save venting for a phone call.
Question (for new students): Have you made any friends?
How to answer: This is your opportunity to reassure your parents of your well-being, especially if you’re far from home. If you’ve made new friends, be specific. Name names, personality quirks and how you met, and don’t be afraid to introduce them to your parents over the weekend – your friends might even get a free meal out of it.
If you’re still working on meeting people, talk about some of the organizations or clubs you’re interested in and who you’ve met at meetings and events so far.
Question: Do you have a job/internship yet?
How to answer: If you haven’t gotten around to getting a job or internship, turn the conversation into a discussion of the places where you’re thinking of applying. The fact that you have a job or internship in mind will be a relief to mom and dad, and the conversation might help you sort out your long-term goals. If you do have a job or internship, let your parents know what you’ve been working on and what your position entails.
Question: Are you eating well?
How to answer: It might be best not to mention the multiple cups of coffee, microwaved pizza and midnight Crepeaway deliveries. It might also be a good idea to stash the 24-pack of Budweiser you bought last weekend. But you should do more than answer this question with a vague, “Yeah, I guess.”
Point out the spots where you like to grab a bite, brag about the culinary diversity of D.C. and mention a few restaurants you’ve wanted to try. If you’re lucky, your parents might be inspired to take you out to one of them. If you’re looking for sympathy, walk your parents through Whole Foods to look at the prices.
Question: Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?
How to answer: The most personal question is actually the easiest to deflect. School first, right? If you haven’t found that special someone yet, it’s easy to brush off the question by mentioning your heavy course load. Even if you have found someone, you might not be ready to share the news just yet.
But if you are ready for your significant other to meet the parents, take advantage of the weekend with a quick meet-up for coffee or an invite to dinner.