On the surface, Family Weekend is a lot like a television game show: You make a few guesses, try to say the right thing, and hope that you'll go home with cash and prizes. After all, isn't it only fair that your parents compensate you for putting your life on hold for an entire weekend? It's not like you could ever show them the real life you're living at the UA, is it? Could they ever handle knowing that their darling child is making grown-up decisions? Do you think they would collapse under the knowledge that their adult progeny is drinking, smoking, partying and maybe (if you're lucky) engaging in amorous affairs?
I'll let you in on a little secret: Parents aren't stupid. Whether they openly admit it or not, they know that their little angels can be quite the devils. In fact, most parents expect it. That doesn't mean that they want to hear about all of the risqué adventures you and your new friends have had, nor would I suggest trying to tell them that you're dangerously near failing two of your classes because of the fact that they meet Friday morning, and you're always a little too hung over to handle fractals at 8 a.m.
Part of the whole college experience is creating an amazing new relationship with your parents; a relationship unlike any you've had before. Unless you live at home, gone are the days that Mom and Dad can tell you where to go, who to go with and what time you have to be home. In exchange for this freedom, they expect relative honesty. That is, they want to know that you can make your own choices but they also need to know that you'll screw up. If you never screwed up, they'd never get to fix things, and they'd end up having to deal with their own problems or something equally unlikely.
When it comes to the truth, there is always a way to make yourself look good. There are some key points to remember when talking to the folks:
1. Never, ever, ever tell them that you've started dating someone unless you want your parents to ask you more questions than you could ever answer about your new "mystery man." If you aren't serious, it is far more trouble than it's worth. Never underestimate a mother's instinct to see grandchildren in her future. I doubt I'm the only one whose mother has started purchasing toys for her non-existent grandchildren.
2. Drugs and alcohol have been around for a long time. In fact, they've been around so long that scientists know all about the horrible things they do to your body, and that should be enough to keep you sober. However, if you still feel the need to imbibe, remember that illicit substances were around even when your parents were in college, and there is nothing that you can tell them that they don't already know.
3. Most importantly, remember that your parents probably miss you almost as much as you miss them. While you get to move in to a new space they have to deal with having a huge gaping hole where your bedroom used to be, unless they filled said hole with a new office (in which case they will never realize the psychological damage they have done).
Since the beginning of time, Family Weekend has meant extra cash and a two-day meal ticket. However, what often gets forgotten is that it's also an opportunity to have your parents see you as the person you really are, or at least the one you could be if you were on your best behavior.