It’s been about a month since college students returned home for the summer. I’ve heard from many parents that the “honeymoon” is over. It was an adjustment when the kids left for college and now that they are back, it’s an adjustment all over again. Here are some tips for parents.
Above all, keep expectations realistic. If parents expect things to be exactly as they want, they’re going to be disappointed. Avoid the letdown with realistic expectations.
Avoid power struggles: communicate instead. For example: it’s normal and natural under the circumstances for parents to want to know the whereabouts of the people are who are living in their house; it’s also normal and natural for a returning college student to not want to check in with parents after nine months or more of freedom. The power struggles that occurred before the child went to college can re-emerge. Ideally, parents and young adults should discuss their concerns in advance and develop a plan that works for everyone — maybe an agreement that the child will check in with parents if they’ll be home after midnight, with no curfew imposed. If your child has already been at home for a month, have a family meeting to discuss what’s going well and what isn’t going well. Communicate a message of compromise, realizing that the adult child has surrendered independence in returning home and the parents need to respond with increased flexibility.
It’s OK to expect that adult kids help with chores such as driving siblings places, cooking meals, doing laundry and running errands. In addition, they should be responsible for getting a job, and unless the child is financially independent, parents should discuss with them how the money from their summer employment is going to be allocated. Remind them that if they want to be treated like adults, talking money is one thing adults do.