college students at home

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-19-2013
college students at home
Thu, 12-19-2013 - 1:20pm

i just found your chat room and need advice from seasoned parents

i have 3 sons (through the foster care system, they have lived with us for 5 years) they are 20 (we have adopted), 17 and 15 years

my oldest son is living at home (taking a break from school), he no longer feels it necessary to follow our house rules (curfew, chores, etc).  his brothers are now starting to follow his lead.  he doesn't have any money because he spends it before he earns it (he is now learning a hard lesson that he didn't learn the first two times we tried to teach fiscal responsibility).  all of my friends say we need to kick him out due to his disruptive and disrespectful behavior.  he doens't have any friends he can mooch off of because they all live at home.  what should we do... kick him out or something else, although I don't know what else to do at this point.  thanks for your advice.


Avatar for suzyk2118
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-1997
Thu, 12-19-2013 - 5:27pm

My $.02 - if he's not in school he should be contributing money and/or time to living in your home (unless he's, say, doing a full time internship toward his degree).  I would have a hard time kicking my ds21 out (believe me, there have been times) as he, too, isn't frugal and just expects us to cover him, but he's still in school FT and barely makes enough at his PT job to cover his gas money.  I think it'd be time to sit down as a family (including the younger ones, esp if they've started in with the 'tude) and discuss now that they're getting older and living at home, things need to change.  I lived at home in college and since my mom didn't drive I took her grocery shopping, made dinner nightly since I got home from college before she got home from work, etc.  Divvy things up so everyone is working together as a team based on their age and availability.  Nothing wrong with getting ds to cook (mine loves doing it, as did I, and it's obvoiusly a useful skill), or alternating who cooks what night, who plans the meals, etc.  Charge rent if you want, or have him kick in food money for the house, or whatever you feel comfortable with.  I'm sure it won't be easy but at least get him to recognize what things cost, what he needs to make if he's going to go it alone, etc.  Then if you do decide to kick him out eventually for still not pulling his weight, at least you'll know he knows what it'll take to make it on his own. FWIW.


iVillage Member
Registered: 02-14-2000
Thu, 12-19-2013 - 5:42pm

I agree with Sue that you need to sit down with him and talk. Although it's probably a whole different ballgame taking a 15 year old in and trying to finish up the parenting as opposed to having a child from birth and helping them through the early formative years. Ask him where he sees himself in 5 years. Hopefully not still 'living in your basement' lol!I I too, would have a hard time kicking my kid out, especially at just 20 years old. If he's not signed up for classes in January then you should insist he start applying for jobs (not sure from your post if he's working or not). If you're giving him spending money - stop. If he has absolutely no money to do anything fun/buy anything - he'll probably figure it out pretty quickly. 

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Thu, 12-19-2013 - 8:50pm

I agree with the others that you should try talking to him again. Explain what you expect from him and that the consequence will be that he has to move out. Give him another chance and if he still refuses then you pretty much have to follow through. In the talk, see if there are ways that he is willing to contribute (with time or talent if he doesn't have money) that might be different than his current chores, but might be things that are worth it to you.

Its a tough age---he wants to be independent but can't. If you can give him more control over his life (while remaining compatible with the household) maybe some of the friction can be eased. Personally, I wouldn't have a curfew for a 20 yo. I expected the common courtesy of telling me roughly when s/he would be home, or notification that he woudn't be home. 

We kicked out our dd when she was 18 and it was heartbreaking. She was going over the top with bad behavior (like stumbling in drunk at 6am, lying about attending school, etc) to the point that it was extremely stressful and disruptive. We had lots of talks and heard promises but she didn't keep her word, and eventually we reached our limit. But she did have some friends with couches and she had a job so we knew that she could be okay. Its a last resort measure but sometimes you end up there. It would certainly send a strong message to the younger boys, but I hope for you that it doesn't come to that.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-08-2009
Thu, 12-19-2013 - 11:26pm

Dear Wresler_mom,

Welcome to our corner of the village and gentle hugs!

We had two daughters and no sons, until we sent the daughters out to steal us a couple of sons via teen marriages. (Joking about the stealing, but not the teen marriages.) The couples are all 20 and 21. Hubby and I are blessed to live with the two couples and our three grandsons via the youngest couple as they work a couple of days each and attend evening classes four nights a week while the old man and I get to be with the little brothers.

Oldest daughter has fertility issues that will require them to build a family via adoption and though those adoptions are a few years in the future, they are considering the path you have chosen. GOD BLESS YOU!!!!! (and because I saw a “we” in your post, GOD BLESS YOUR HUBBY TOO!!!!) Our oldest couple’s attitude is, “our children have been born, but we just haven’t met them yet.” They are following in the path of our OBgyn who has no bio children for the same reason, but several adopted children.

In about ten or fifteen years, I may have a clearer understanding, but these would be my current thoughts.

I have always thought that for some kids a year or two out of school between high school and college or during college can be the best choice—time to get their stuff together and mind clearly on the future. During this time they should be meaningfully occupied. Kids of the Mormon faith often spend a year or two doing mission work. (We are not of that faith.) A job flipping hamburgers can also be very helpful and educational. They learn lots of lessons beyond “work sucks.” LOL Seriously, they learn the connection between work and money, money management, time management, working with other people, showing up on time, etcetera. My uncle and four other Profs flunked out a guy who came back seven years later and became the best student my uncle ever had. My uncle clearly understood that all the changes had occurred within that student’s skull.

Unless they are on a mission trip, while taking time off from school, it seems reasonable to me that they should have to earn their own money for cloths, entertainment, car, phone, etcetera, and pay a reasonable amount towards food and rent expenses. (If you feel uncomfortable taking rent and food money, give it back to him later.) No school, no work, no phone service, no car, no movie money, no fun, no nothing. So, get off the couch and back to school or off to work.

When kids reach eighteen, or, as in our case with the younger two getting married a few days before seventeen, they are entitled to be, and should be, treated as fully emancipated adults. However, every house has rules and two of those rules are a reasonable time to be home by, and reasonable time for quite to prevail. (This is not a frat house, sonny boy.) And there are many many many many many other rules that are reasonable and those paying the rent or mortgage get to make those rules.

Also, everybody in the house has certain chores to do. That never stops. Our girls kept their rooms, their bathroom, vacuumed, did their own cloths washing, loaded and unloaded the dish washer, etcetera, from the time they were in elementary school. They now do almost ALL of the cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, lawn care, etcetera, which allows hubby and me to come home after work and enjoy the grandsons as they all go off to classes four evenings a week. (Now you see why I say we live with them. LOL) I recall the necessity of explaining to our girls why we had to do our own housework and lawn care. In short, “Doing this allows us to have money to do the fun things we all like to do, like going on vacations.” You could see the lights coming on in their brains.

As for your two younger sons, hubby and I found that depravation of privileges was far more effective than beating the girls. (Joking about the beating, but dead serious about the depravation of privileges.) Also, the vision of older brother without a phone, driving privileges, internet for gaming, money for movies, etcetera, can be devastating to the idea of walking down that same path behind big bro.

Hubby and I have always been able to logic with the girls and their guys. And that is a two way process. I simply don’t know if that would work in your situation, but I would sit the three guys down and try that. The type of questions I would have for them are: Exactly why should you be exempt from following the rules? And exactly why should hubby and I do all the housework and clean up after you? How is that fair? This is another one of those areas, where “your mileage may vary.”

One of the subjects of this logic between us and the girls has been that at some point the “parental scholarship program” ends. In addition to providing a place for the couples to live, hubby and I, and each set of the guy’s parents still provide each couple with a chunk of money—the same amount of money that we would be spending if they were single, living at home, and attending local state university. Unless you are rich or have an evergreening money tree in the back yard, there are limits to how long you and hubby can fund the kids, so they should understand that fine point. Therein is the reason that “a kid on break from school” should be working.

As for the disruptive attitude issue, I would explain that “civility is the lubricant of society.” In short, “boys we have to be polite and respectful to each other.” This includes reasonable hours, chores, and rules of the house.

As you are fully aware, many, probably most, If not all, foster kids have come through many hard knocks. My guess would be that the older they are when adopted, the more hard knocks they have endured. Another guess is that they need constant reinforcement that they will NEVER “age out” as your children. Actually this last sentence is not a guess, as the above mentioned OBgyn has mentioned that to me and the oldest daughter on several occasions.

Growing up the girls always said they were NEVER leaving home. Hubby and my life is so enmeshed into that of the girls, their guys (our sons), the grandsons, that the discussion has evolved into us getting a larger home and continuing to live together after they all finish school in a couple of years. I guess they are used to in-house childcare and hubby and I like the free maid, lawn care, and cook services. LOL What makes this possible is that each couple has rooms to retreat into and we have the common willingness to work with each other. I have no clue as to whether this is just dumb luck, kinky, duplicable, or if any sane person would want to duplicate it. All I can say is that it works for us.

No matter what the situation, I don’t think Hubby and I could ever turn the kids out. Kids need the unquestionable, unqualified love and support of their parents.

I’m a rambler and I hope this ramble is of some help to you.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-19-2013
Fri, 12-20-2013 - 2:28am

Pam - yes he does work, he switched his predictible 8-4 job at $11/hr to go to an unpredicitable, less than full-time, minimum wage job.  We don't give him money, we bailed him out his freshman year of college about $1300, and again last year $1700, but no more.  he spent all of his money buying a POS to go 4-wheeling with his buddies and is totally, financially irresponsible. ugh.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-19-2013
Fri, 12-20-2013 - 2:50am
Rambler - thank you for rambling, i appreciate your thoughts, you and hubby are brave, supportive and understanding your girls and their mates are lucky to have you. i don't think my husband will allow me to kick him out. before coming to live with us our oldest lived on the streets but the two younger brothers remained with their mom. i feel like the drastic change of living homeless / poor to a middle class family has made them not appreciate the value of money and what it takes to run a household that is truly operational. one of the reasons for the curfew is that i am a total worrier and totally in-tuned to my kids. when they aren't home i worry, i wake up spontaneously when it's time for them to come home and if they don't show up i fear the worst and am wide awake until they appear. our middle son ran away for a long weekend and i didn't sleep a wink the entire time. i am incapable of sleeping through the night when i am expecting someone to come home. i do a lot better when i know he isn't coming home because i don't expect him, although i still worry. it is impossible for me to operate on 2-3 hours of sleep on a regular basis, my youngest gets up at 5 to get to school on time so if my oldest doesn't show up until 2 or 4am as of late you can imagine what a wreck i am. i love them so much and we were once so close, he shared everything with me and we would talk for hours every night before bed. now we rarely speak, and the few moments that i do see him i get stuck having to remind him that he hasn't paid me for his phone bill or insurance, he hasn't done his chores, his crap is strewn all over the house, etc...i don't know him anymore (this wedge was driven in by a destructive relationship with a girl who thought i should be dead which has since ended but now before pushing him away form me, losing his scholarships, wasting all his money, and failing 3 terms of school). i just want a way to co-exist that isn't killing me physically, can at least not be an emotional drain and allows me to at least be on the side-lines of his life instead of in the parking lot of the gym. there has to be a way, but i am at a loss and fear it's too late. :(
Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Fri, 12-20-2013 - 6:18pm

Nature AND nurture.  Don't forget that the sperm and egg donors had a hand in how these people are turning out.  And with the oldest, unfortunatly, in addition to having the DNA of his bio parents, he was also raised by them for the first 15 years.  Some few people spontaneously develop intelligence, common sense, ambition, compassion, and a conscience in the face of overwhelming obstacles.  Most do not. 

Kids entering the foster system need psychiatric counseling to deal with the issues that required them being remover from their families.   But many have other psychiatric or emotional problems in addition, like ADHD, BiPolar, Oppositional defiant disorder, & Conduct disorder.  Have these kids had psychiatric evaluations and treatment? 

All kids need firm rules, strict boundries, and immediate consequenses, but kids like this, more than any.  You MUST get a job.  You MUST pay rent, BEFORE you pay for anything else.  Parents do NOT pay for phones, puters, games systems, data plans, calling plans, cars, car insurance, licenses, stickers, maintenance, clothes beyond the basics,  or walking around money.  That comes out of your pay, AFTER the rent. 

You MUST go to college, or get a full time job.  If you go to college, we do not pay for C's.  Get a C, and you must REPAY that tuition.  Go on academic probation, and you repay ALL the tuition for that semester, before we pay any more. 

You MUST contribute to the household, by helping to maintain the clothes you wear, and the home you live in.

Refusal to abide by the above rules will result in a 6 month deadline to move out.  And all the stuff WE bought, stays HERE.

If you can't make rules, set logical consequenses, and FOLLOW THRU, then you and your husband need counseling, also.

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Fri, 12-20-2013 - 6:25pm
BTW, a kid who stays out after curfew, or runs away, should have the police called on him. A kid who has a vehicle with no insurance or licensing, should NOT have the vehicle. And a girlfriend cannot MAKE someone do something they do not want to do. Your son has a mind of his own, and free will. He CHOSE to behave as he did, and does.
iVillage Member
Registered: 08-08-2009
Sat, 12-21-2013 - 12:50am

Before I get started here, Sabrtooth is very much in touch with these emotional and psychological issues, which I am not. However, what she is saying does make sense.

Much of what Sabrtooth said may seem harsh, but may also be very realistic when you have a hard headed one (as in an adult child that you cannot logic with). You notice lots of “deprivation of privileges” in her thoughts and her thoughts have a reasonable amount of time for him to seriously start getting himself straighten out. For some kids, only a deadline will make a difference.

I think Sabrtooth is speaking of “depravation of privileges” immediately. If you start those “depravations of privileges” immediately, he may understand that the six months is also real. That also sends a serious message to the younger two that bro’s path is NOT a WISE choice. As for the oldest, if he determines that you are serious, you increase the chances that you will NOT have to follow through at six months. Borrowing a quote from the late Senator Dirksen, “When I feel the heat, I see the light.” Different context, but applicable to this situation also.

The OBgyn and her MD hubby who I told you about above, who built their family via adoption, thinks it’s nurture and NOT nature. Her point is along the lines of what Sabrtooth said about the kid NOT being able to “spontaneously” overcome “overwhelming obstacles.” Helping them develop is the parent’s duty and a much harder one than that of those who have had the kid from birth. The OBgyn has shared that thought with our daughter.

She also told our daughter that like her and her hubby, our daughter and hubby will likely have the income to make a difference in the lives of more than a few children. And even more important they both have a heart for others. Doc has that last comment correct as they truly do have caring hearts.

I think this is called something like “tough love.” When you do this you want to make sure that the kid understands that this is not your choice, BUT HIS CHOICE. Also, son when you are ready to follow the rules, COME HOME.

Now for a few other thoughts I had.

Ahh, the information that you provided above gives us some more clues. And having thought about things a little more, let me ramble a little more with the hope that something may be of value to you.

Central to these thoughts of mine is the ability to LOGIC with the kid. When logic won’t work you may have to revert to the “tough love” approach described above by Sabrtooth.

Kids go through phases. Somewhat like Mark Twain described how he felt about his father and the change of his attitude about his dad at 21, I was a really stupid little $itch before I began to wise up at 21. Hubby was a male version of me. And when we married at 24, it took a decade to work our way through the baggage we brought into our marriage. My point is that people can and often do change over time. (Mark Twain said that when he was 16 he thought his father was the stupidest person to have ever lived and when he was 21 he was amazed by how much wisdom his father had gained in those five short years. LOL) I would separate the problems and deal with them individually and quickly.


As every parent is fully aware, WORRY is a major part of being a parent. Some time ago, I asked my mother when she stopped worrying about me and my siblings. She answered, “Kimmy, I’ll let you know when I do.”


A worry that many parents have, but hubby and I have not had to deal with, because the couples live with us instead of a dorm, is getting that call in the middle of the night or knock on the door and, as you answer, getting cold sweats wondering if it’s the call every parent fears, like your daughter was in an auto accident and taken to the ER with life threatening injuries or was taken to the county morgue. I’ve had several friends (and my mother) tell me about that fear when the phone rang and how elated they were when it turned out to be some idiot at a bar who dialed the wrong number. I doubt any kid understands that parental fear before they are parents. I know I did not.

I would suggest setting the boys down and explain that the reasonable curfew is so that mom and dad don’t have to worry and can get a good night’s sleep (so that they can go to work and pay for the rent, food, etcetera). Parents are entitled to some peace and enjoyment of life. Discuss what a reasonable curfew should be on school nights and on weekends. “Son(s), think about it as the price of free rent.”


Some kids are not cut out for the college path. They will do better as a mechanic, plumber, or some other high paying career. Hubby and I are both college grads, but we have couples in our circle of friends that have family income above $100,000, who went into a trade like plumbing, mechanic, hair dressing, which makes hubby and me wonder if we made a good choice between college and a trade school. LOL Seriously, these people could not hack college, but carved out a very nice life without college. When the kid is not doing well in college, this path should be given some serious consideration.

Our two couples went to community college before transferring to local state university. Most community colleges have very reasonable tuition rates, a student can take as many or as few hours as they can do well in. Likewise with the local state university that our couples went to. If your son(s) can only do well in 9 semester units during the fall and spring and another 6 units during the summer, he will finish in five years, which is the number of years that the average student who gets a BS takes. This leaves lots of time to fill with work and doing lots of fun things in addition to getting the degree. Some kids need this slower pace. When your son wants to return to college, community college at a reduced load may be the ticket for him. Also, if he invests his earned money in that first semester, with the understanding that you and dad will pay him back if he does well, he may be more motivated NOT to goof off WITH HIS MONEY.

One of the down sides of federal student loans is that they have to be repaid. Community college keeps the parents from getting slammed with lots of debt for poor performance.


When our girls were like 11 and 12, hubby and I gave them a chunk of family money to manage. They were in charge of clothing, incidentals, like hair care, cosmetics, entertainment, like movies, amusement park, water park, school lunches, and allowance for chores. There were certain conditions, like not dressing like a homeless person, stripper, or ho cake, accounting for every dime so it wasn’t being smoked in a bong, snorted in nose straw, etcetera. And hubby and I had the power to veto any large expenditures that we felt were unsuitable, but they were free to spend as they chose to. We were stunned by how careful they were with “their money.” Thrift store clothing and sack lunches were OK because they could spend the savings on things they wanted to. (And they looked good in those gently used clothes from the thrift stores.) They went without cell phones because they wanted to spend the money elsewhere. They also started mowing lawns for extra money.

As with anything, this may not work with all children and teens. Your mileage may vary. If it doesn’t work, you can stop it at any point.

The harsh reality of no money will change behavior much quicker than all the harping a parent can do. Some lessons have to be learned in the school of hard knocks

Stop paying his cell phone bill. If he fails to pay you, you cut off the service.

As a side point, has a 2,000 minutes/or texts per year pay as you go phone plan for $100 that operates on the AT&T system with the cheap AT&T pay go phones that sell for ten or twenty bucks and last several years before you have to buy a replacement. If you lose the phone, you buy a new cheap phone and a new HO2 wireless sim card that sells for $10 at Best Buy, so you don’t need insurance on the phone. I used less than $30 last year and the balance rolls over when you renew. You can also transport phone numbers into and out of these HO2 wireless phone plans.

Stop paying for his car insurance and if the title is in your name and he is not paying you for the insurance, dispose of the car.

As a side point, if your name is on the title, get it off the title as you are also liable for any accidents he gets into. None of the six parents are on title with our two couples. You don’t have to be on title, to guarantee any debt on the car. You’re not liable for the accident as a guarantee signer, but you are liable if you are listed on the ownership. Making the guarantee will make you liable for any loss due to reposition, but that is very limited liability. Having said that, you want to be very careful about how large a loan you are signing for because, for example, if you sign for a $20,000 car loan for a borrower who stops buying insurance and crashes the car before the reposition and the reduced value of the crashed car is $5,000, the $15,000 amount of loss can be quite staggering.


Deposit the crap back into his room when necessary, vacuum the floors as necessary, and say nothing more. Some battles are just not worth the effort.

Stop washing any of their clothing as they are all old enough to operate a clothes washer and dryer. They will not go out the door dirty.

Rather than get into a battle over them not helping with the kitchen duties, go out to dinner with hubby at your local Costco where the food is cheap and leave them at home to fend for themselves. They will not starve. If you think they might burn the house down, load the freezer up with microwavable foods for them to heat and provide cheap paper plates.

For every issue, try to figure out how to make it the least disruptive to you.

Never lose your cool, just simplify your life, and keep a smile on your face.

If he says something mean like, “I hate you.” Respond with, “We love you, will always love you, and because we love you, we’re not going to contribute to your personal destructive activities.” Or just stop at “we will always love you.” Most people who are in the wrong, know they are in the wrong without having to be told they are in the wrong..

Nobody ever said parenting was easy and nobody was certainly correct. LOL

Hang in there, the light at the end of the tunnel is probably not an oncoming train. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-19-2013
Sat, 12-21-2013 - 3:14am
Thanks Rambler, you have validated most of what we have done already. We do the budget exercise and we did plan for a 5 year college plan at a small school with the right degree and wrestling program, community college will use up eligibility if he has hopes of wrestling again. we don't pay for school that is all financial aid, and scholarships so far no loans other than ours, the first year he miss planned and we helped him out. the second time we bailed him out with the understanding it was a loan and would be repaid any A or B in an academic class was worth $100 any balance remaining at graduation would be paid in cash. because of the late change in plans not to return to school we gave him 1 year before he would have to start repaying because he says he's going back to school and wanted to follow through with the agreement we made. we have had all of the conversations about curfew and parent worry. and you are correct kids don't get it at all and i am not sure if they ever will. it will be interesting to see. as a teen i understood this fact because every year we had at least 5 casualties due to reckless behavior mainly drinking and driving. i always checked in when i couldn't make curfew. I have started removing the crap from the community areas, because it isn't worth the battle and if i were to wait for the battle people might start to think we were hoarders. it's hard to have a conversation when no one is around. when the kids were younger the rule was if you left stuff out it was taken and you may or may not get it back. i always did eventually, that seemed to help for awhile. the phone unfortunately is on a contract and is in my husband's name, we need to be more strict about taking it or using the parent limits to reduce service (but my husband needs to get on board with this piece). the main car my son drives is ours so it's in our name and we pay the insurance the plan was for all the kids to be able to drive it although the other two don't have licenses. he just decided to buy the other one and thankfully it was with cash not a loan, he has financed some of the repairs. in the end if someone is going to sue you they will whether you are on the title or not we have an umbrella policy for this reason. i get what sabrtooth is saying although most if it doesn't pertain to us. and what does pertain we agree with. i am struggling with how to enforce being paid first. i don't have access to the bank account, this has been a hard one to wrap my head around. i like the 6 month plan that will be a good solution when and if we get to that place. lastly, i am pleased that we have never heard "i hate you" although the actions sometimes make me think that. and yes, i generally respond with i love you regardless to what you say or how you act. we had another talk last night about the curfew and basically said if you can't be home then you need to decide that by midnight, call us and find somewhere else to spend the night, we'll see how that goes. thanks for the support and advice everyone. happy holidays.