Parent Visits: A Survival Guide

By Lauren Herber, Staff Writer

Having your parents come to visit can be a source of great comfort, especially in the midst of school-related stress. However, having visitors of any kind can potentially add stress and pressure to our already busy lives. With graduation and the inevitable influx of visiting family members less than a month away, I thought I’d use my experiences thus far (my parents are currently halfway through their two-week stay with me here in Phoenix) to offer Thunderbird students some suggestions for how to make parent visits as smooth, fun, and stress-free as possible.

Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of

1. Get ahead in your schoolwork. We should probably already be doing this, but right before your parents come to visit is not a good time to procrastinate. Do your best to work ahead as much as you can. Get a few of your readings out of the way now so that you don’t have to worry about them while your parents are in town. Additionally, schedule group project meetings in advance so your schedule is a little more fixed, making it easier for you plan sightseeing trips with your family.

2. Plan ahead. Stock up on small food or toiletry items that you know your parents use on a daily basis but probably didn’t bring with them. This will show that you’ve spent some time thinking about their needs, and it will help them to feel more at home, especially if they’ve traveled a long way to come visit you. For example, my mom needs at least one cup of coffee before she starts her day, but she doesn’t like to drink it black or unsweetened. Even though I prefer my coffee with just a splash of milk, having a small container of peppermint mocha coffee creamer on hand is an easy way to make my mother feel more at home.

3. Make a list of potential restaurants and activities. While it isn’t your responsibility to entertain your parents every moment of their visit, having a general list of ideas will make the visit easier on all of you. Even if you’re busy, you can offer your parents a few suggestions of places to eat or museums to visit. The Phoenix Art Museum and Lux Coffee are great Sunday afternoon activities for your parents while you catch up on homework.

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Photo courtesy of

4. Think about your parents’ interests and needs, not just your own. Your parents’ visit probably isn’t the best time to go to that new seafood place that you’ve been dying to try when you know your dad hates fish. Think about things such as your parents’ likes, dislikes, allergies, interests, etc. For example, for parents with gluten or dairy allergies (like my dad), Rokerij (a steak and seafood restaurant) is a good choice for dinner. For vegetarian parents, try Green New American Vegetarian café for some tasty, meat-free options.

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Photo courtesy of

5. Use this time as an opportunity to show your parents new and unique things. As Thunderbirds, we have family from all over the world. Many of us likely have parents who have never been to Phoenix or the American Southwest. Use their visit as a chance to show your parents new food, art, culture, and experiences that they can’t get back home. Since my parents are here visiting from the Midwest, I’m probably not going to take them to Applebee’s for dinner. A better choice is Rice Paper, a Vietnamese restaurant in downtown Phoenix that offers different types of foods that my parents would never try in Indiana. Plus, it’s always fun to watch your mom do a sake bomb.

Some restaurant and activity recommendations:

Brunch: Ocotillo, Dick’s Hideaway

Lunch: Mika’s Greek, Phoenix Public Market Café, Green New American Vegetarian

Dinner: Rokerij, Geisha A Go Go, Rice Paper, Joyride Taco House, Hanny’s

Live music: Crescent Ballroom, The Nash

Bars: Copper Blues, Angel’s Trumpet Ale House, Postino Central

Museums: Heard Museum, Phoenix Art Museum, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Taliesin West (Frank Lloyd Wright House)

Coffee shops: Lux Central (also great for food!), Giant Coffee, Cartel Coffee Lab, Lola Coffee

Hikes: South Mountain, Tom’s Thumb, Camelback Mountain

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