College kids home for summer---anyone else having a hard time?

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-15-2003
College kids home for summer---anyone else having a hard time?
Tue, 05-20-2014 - 3:16pm two oldest boys have just returned from their freshman and sophmore years of college and I have to say it has not been fun.  It is a constant worry with them going out all the time and I find that they are in a phase when they feel like they know everything and have made/are making some poor choices. I almost feel as though they have regressed in some ways in terms of maturity level while they were away. Does anyone have any suggestions on how they have successfully handled re-entry and this phase of parenting?


Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999

My kids are grown and flown, but when they were in college, we, and many of our friends, found the best way to get responsible behavior was just like in high school.  Keep them too busy to have time to hang out, go out too late or sleep in.  Our kids took summer classes, and they worked full time during the summer.  They needed good grades, or we would not repay the tuition.  They needed to work or they would not have cell phones, social media toys, or CARS.  So they needed to get up and get to work and class on time, and they needed to function well while they were there.  They also knew from a much younger age, that regardless if they bought the device (or car) or not, or if they were supporting it, it's use was STILL dependent upon our permission.  In a nutshell, screw up and you lose your car, phone, laptop, kindle, whatever.  But you STILL get yourself to work & class, on the bus, or god forbid, shanks' mare.

We had very few issues, but one did lose her car for 6 months, and the other one, after staying out all night without an explanatory phone call, came home to find ALL her clothes on the lawn.  These were valuable, and powerful, lessons. 

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998

I have to admit that its been a while....but I do remember a rocky transition when ds returned from college for the summer, especially after his freshman year. I think its just as difficult for the CS as it is for the parents, to suddenly go from being unsupervised and independent (except for financially LOL) to being back in the childhood bedroom. And my kids did seem to act about 15yo in some ways while wanting to have the freedoms of an adult.

I agree with Sabr about they need to be busy. Fortunately my ds was able to find a full time summer job each year so he wasn't even trying to stay out late on work nights. What are your current expectations? Do your CS' need to have a job or an internship/volunteer position? Do you have a curfew, house rules?

We decided to not bother with a curfew. We did expect basic courtesy and consideration. I asked ds to let me know if he would be home for dinner, and let me know if he was not coming home that night, even if he didn't decide until very late (He rarely stayed away overnight). If he did come in late to be quiet, we had a set time when guests needed to leave, and no drugs or alcohol on the property. Beyond that, it was basically the same as from before he left: he was expected to wash the dishes on certain nights, do his own laundry, a few other chores, etc. That's where the 15yo behavior came back, pushback on dishes and chores just like in high school. Truthfully, this continued much longer than I expected...after he graduated he wanted to move back home to save some money and we discussed our expectations of a good "roommate" and he agreed. But within a few weeks he was being a bad roommate and we ended up asking him to get his own place. So unfortunately I can't promise you that your boys will soon be acting like adults full time.

Since they're over 18 we don't have some of the consequences we used to enact, but there are still a few....use of your car, and money. I would probably insist that they have something constructive to do like a job or internship that fills a lot of their time.

As the summer wears on they will probably settle down, but don't be surprised if things get rough again the last couple of weeks before they return to school.

Just wondering, did you have problems last summer with your older ds?


iVillage Member
Registered: 12-15-2003

Hi...Thank you for response. I was hoping to hear from parents who have been through this phase of parenting or are currently going through it, so I appreciate your thoughts very much.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-15-2003

Hi...Yes both boys have summer jobs, just haven't started yet and that's definitely part of it.  They are starting soon thank goodness!  We did give up on the curfew this summer as long as they let us know if they are staying out overnight, which rarely happens,  I guess I am just mostly struck by their immaturity this summer so far.(Our dd is 14 and a freshman in hs and seems more mature in many ways!)  We did not have too many issues with the oldest last summer, he was glad to be home and seemed to appreciate being here.  It was the summer after his senior year that he couldn't wait to get out of here(his words).  I think he learned alot about how good he had it here by living away that first year.  He did have a rough year this year at school and struggled with depression, which luckily he told us about and got help through the school, which was very supportive of him so I think that is weighing in on his behavior this summer. He does seem to be feeling better after being on med for a few months but seems to be struggling with worries about his future and yet doesn't want any advice.   My husband and I are just doing our best as always to parent but this is certainly a challenging time and I'm finding it hard not to worry.

Avatar for suzyk2118
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-1997

Our circumstances are a little different but absolutely we get the pushback.  DS just graduated college and is going to continue on to grad school so doesn't have a 'real' job that can support him.  We bought a condo for him to stay in WHILE IN SCHOOL FULL TIME  (and we're in the same metro area as that and his U) so he feels like he's used to staying there, why can't he now? (same last summer, winter break, etc.)  We just stand firm, say if you want to, you pay utilities, condo fees, your phone, internet, food, gas for car (this one is regardless of where he's staying) etc. - which basically with the pay rate he's getting even with 2 part time jobs (~$8/hr), would leave him pretty tapped. So we just get ready for that 'talk' after each semester and he gets over his 'independence' frustrations and moves on.

We tell him he can have the whole basement besides just his bedroom; he's set up his tv/gaming system down there so he isn't taking over the den/our tv and has privacy.  He can come/go as he wants (he is 21), eat when he wants (with us or not); just leave me a list of food or join me at the store.  The issue right now is more kids are moving on to 'real' jobs or going on fancy vacations and he's not, and his circle of friends is shifting thus so is his whole world, and I'm sure his pushing back is part of that uncertainty.  So I gently give ideas (he has an interview tomorrow for a part to full time real job in his field that he's very excited about; sure hoping it works out - that and a summer class will keep him busy this summer, then grad school plus the job(s) in the fall, etc. where he can go back to the condo as he'll be in full time grad school)

At any rate, believe me, I've BTDT in technicolor - they feel 'independent' but obviously can't make it on their own quite yet (or at least their school plans won't let them at this point)...


iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999

OK, my DD graduated from college 3 yrs ago so I am trying to remember--I don't think it was really that bad.  First of all even if she stayed out late, she wasn't noisy when she came in.  I only had the rule that if she was going to be out overnight, she had to at least text me.  I started that rule when she became 18 when a senior--I didn't want to wake up at 3:00 am, find out she wasn't home and start worrying about accidents.  It was funny that when she was 18 and I said she didn't have a curfew any more, that's when she didn't even stay out that late because she had nothing to prove--the latest was really 1:00 a.m.  I also found that she became much neater after having to share a small dorm room w/ a roommate--no more throwing all her clothes on the floor until she washed them!  In our area, it's very hard to find a full time summer job, so she only worked part time.  I think they will probably get better once they start the routine of working.  But threats probably work pretty well!   lol

Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997

Mine just came back this past weekend.  DD just finished her freshman year and DS just graduated from college.  We haven't had any issues with them.  They are both the type to keep themselves super busy at all times, even if that busyness means long hours of writing or drawing instead of something that looks productive to other people.

14yo DS is the one who's a bit irked by them.  When they're at college, he's an only child, and life at home is pleasant, quiet and stable.  When they come home, there's a lot more noise and stuff.  He & I both have a harder time dealing with the noise and stuff than DH who kind of likes the chaos.  But soon enough DS will be going overseas and DD will be working at a camp, so things should settle down.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-21-2004

Oh can I relate.  I have 4 children, my last being 15 and others 27, 24, 22.  My 22 yr old is in his last year of college. 

Just this last weekend I had the 22 yr old home and I have to say that there was a little too much beer drinking going on for my comfort level.  Granted he's of age as was his friend and no one was out driving, but between staying up late and consuming and day drinking at the house and beach, it was a bit much for my DH and I.  So here's what will happen.  I will wait till my DS says he's coming home next, regardless of whether he brings a friend or not he and I, or he and his Dad will have a pre coming home conversation.  I will explain that the last time he was here he drank too much and that he's gonna have to scale it back -  a lot.  If that doesn't do it, and I'd really be surprised if it doesn't, then we'll have to ask him to not come home, and no one wants that so it will be a conversation for sure.  This DS lives almost year round at his school due to job and co-op opportunities.

I truly believe that each college kid is different.  Mine all got the party gene in spite of my DH and I being very pretty conservative, I mean we enjoy a drink out at dinner, and will have friends over for drinks some, but we are not big drinkers and always tried to set a good example.  For whatever reason all my kids like a good time.  So we've had to set limits.  I or my DH have had to sit each one down at certain times and have a 'talk' about their habits with each one.  IT seems to remind them that when in Rome, do as the Romans do kind of thing

And that's what you need to do now while yours are just getting their first tastes of adult livng away from home.  They bring dorm behavior home with them and since they've had 10 months to practice, it feels perfectly normal to them.  Truthfully, they know deep down inside that it's not going to fly, but they're testing the home turf to see how much they can get away with.  

Have a sit down.  Make it brief and make it pretty much a one sided conversation.  Let them know you have a home with certain expectations, and even though they're older and wiser (wink wink, sure throw them that bone if you want) they need to come home and while there follow the 'house rules'.  These rules need to be decided upon by you and your spouse or just you if you're single.  I don't think you need to know where they're going every minute, and maybe you say 'if you go out, there can be not drinking an driving and you need to come home at a respectable hour (give them one if you want).  And then the rest of the rules can be household expectations, clean up after yourselves, do your own laundry, give them household chores even.  

Here's the thing.  They might sit there and roll their eyes or even give you the 'hey, I'm a college kid now, I really don't need to be told what to do' kind of thing.  Acknowledge it, and then let them know that you understand how they feel but too bad, it's gonna have to be this way.  As for enforcing it, if your DH can help, please do get him on board.  If it's just you, decide what you can let go, and what you can't and then be prepared to enforce.  How?  IF they use your car, take the keys for a couple of days and let then know you mean business.  IF they try coming home at 4am, lock the door and let them sit outside or sleep in the car in the driveway.  Then take the keys and have them work out their transportation however they need to.  

These are things I had to do, along with very stern talks over the years.  IT drove me crazy.  I remember one day all 3 of the older kids where home for the summer, leaving sandy towels and dishes and clothes all over the place.  I just had had it and I let them know it.  We kinda laugh about it now, but I had to tell them how much my home meant to me and how I'd no interest in living like I was 19 again!

If you need more specific advice please ask away, I'm sure mine have been there done that.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-23-2003

Our daughter came home the third week of April and is going back next week for the second summer session and to her new apartment.  She has vegetated on the sofa for about the entire time.  She's hung out with me and her nieces a little bit.  She's been in contact with her friends from college and has also hung out with a group of friends here a few times.  One time was an overnighter which she didn't do because I was opposed to it, since she didn't explain it clearly and it sounded like trouble.  The second overnighter was OK, but she did ask.  One night she came in late (2:00 a.m.) and I woke up to find her standing over me.  My heart nearly jumped out of my chest!  She was just trying to tell me she was home.  Gotta find a better way, lol!

She has been very considerate and has helped around the house.  She also squeezed in a tonsillectomy.  DH and I have asked nothing of her and have wanted her to just decompress and regroup since she has been enrolled non-stop since graduating high school in 2012.  There have also been some hiccups and bumps along the way and she just needed a break.  She'll be home again for about a week in August for routine doctors appointments.

I remember my own school breaks and all I can say is, I'm glad she's not like I was!

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-06-1999

DS graduated high school on May 17, had a job all lined up, a few road trips planned life was good until he broke  his collarbone  on  May  11.  He had surgery last week and will be unable to work  this summer, school doesn't start til the end of  Septmber. This is going to be interesting.