Home > School and Learning > By Grade > College > College Life > Home from College: Setting the Guidelines
|

Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Home from College: Setting the Guidelines

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: The upcoming holidays will be the first time my son has returned home since he left for his freshman year at college in September. We are looking forward to seeing him, and understand that he will also want to spend time with his friends. My bigger concern is this: I've heard from other parents who've been through this already that the kids come home expecting that life will be different -- no rules, no chores, no time to get up or go to bed, not a lot of questions about whereabouts. How shall we play this? We don't want to spend the whole vacation arguing, but this is still home and there are some things that really matter to me. Any advice?

A: "Jason's house." That's how we answer the phone when our son is home during his college vacations. Fact is, eight out of ten calls are from his friends, also home from college. Most of his time is spent getting together with friends, making plans to get together with friends, refueling (eating), and sleeping until noon. Whatever daily rhythm we had established in his absence exists no longer.

College freshmen like your son return home with a new found sense of autonomy and a vampire-like sleep and social schedule. Participation in household chores is not on their "top ten list." They are in fact, just visiting. I remember being saddened upon hearing both my college kids say they were looking forward to "getting back home", referring to college. I guess I had naively thought home would always mean our home.

His rhythm-breaking return notwithstanding, you are, as we have been, delighted to have your boy home. Let him hear and feel that joy upon his arrival. Barring an attitude and behavior that shows a blatant disregard for family members, I see no reason not to let him lead the vacation life he chooses.

I'd ask him what he planned to do, whom he planned to see, and what he thought his schedule would be like during vacation. I believe it's fair to ask him if he'll be joining you for meals (forget breakfast!) and social events. You also deserve to know his whereabouts in the evening and when/if he expects to return home. He needs to guarantee you a phone call if his plans and return time change significantly. "I know you're a college boy now but humor me, I need to know you're OK."

Respecting his independence does not mean allowing him to upset you. Our kids are not being willful or purposefully giving us migraines when they leave their dirty clothes and wet towels in a heap on the bathroom floor. They just need to be good-naturedly reminded that your (their) household's long-standing common courtesies are still in place. Your humor and giving them a little slack helps a lot in their making that college-home transition.

That first vacation home from college is a marker. Things really have changed and you both know it. Focusing on your happiness in having him home sets the tone for the best reunion possible. When he arrives, ask him if he might have a slot available for you on his schedule. You know, take in a movie, go out for pancakes. He may even pencil you in!

Enjoy this maiden return. Remember to be thankful that he wants to come home. Happy Holidays.

More on: Expert Advice

Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

highlights

Top 10 Sweet 16 Birthday Gifts
Your daughter's sweet 16 is a big milestone in her life. Celebrate this special occasion with one of these top gifts for girls turning 16.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, brought to you by Galactic Hot Dogs.

Printable Lists of the Top 100 Baby Names
Need help with baby name ideas? Use our printable list of the top 100 girl names and top 100 boy names of 2015 to help you brainstorm and narrow down your favorites.

Registered for Kindergarten — Now What?
Wondering what to do now that you've signed your child up for kindergarten? Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks