After months apart from each other, the moment when your son or daughter finally returns home from a gap year is bound to be an emotional reunion. You and your son or daughter will have missed each other, and although they may be sad to leave their gap travels behind them, they are probably also looking forward to seeing all the family and friends that they left behind. However much they have been in touch, you can't beat seeing each other in person!
While it's important that you make the effort to pick them up from the airport, or go and see them when they return home, you should make sure that you discuss who is going to be meeting them before you get there. After months of travelling and adventuring they might be overwhelmed if they're greeted by every single family member or friend that they have ever known! The reunion can be a very emotional moment, so don't be taken aback if your son or daughter gets a bit caught up in the moment. Take into account that they will probably be feeling very exhausted or jetlagged from the journey home and may need some time to adjust and recover.
Meeting them at the airport is probably the best option as they will be all too grateful for help with their bulging backpack. If they don't live at home with you anymore, it's also a good idea to organise meeting up a few days after they have landed, when they have had time to recover from jetlag and general exhaustion, and maybe go for a meal to celebrate their return. They'll be bursting with stories from their travels and will probably have hundreds of pictures to show you - they might have even brought home a couple of presents!
After the excitement of seeing family and friends and sharing all their gap year experiences, your son or daughter may feel a sense of anticlimax and find it hard to adjust to being back at home. This is the time your help and advice will be most valued. Showing an interest in their gap year experience is important as it will remind them of the life-changing memories they have just had. Helping them take their life experience forward into the future, into university or a career, will make sure all the learning and self-development they have done and the skills they have gained during their gap year make a difference for the rest of their lives.