Countdown to College: What to do when the kids come home for the summer

When college kids return home for the the summer, everyone needs to know this: Parents can’t revert to treating their college students the way they did in high school. And college students need to remember that they aren’t living in a dorm or frat house any longer.

The biggest gripe on both sides seems to be a pronounced lack of privacy. Many parents feel the need to know what their children are doing and where they are headed while they’re living under their roof. Their kids are confused because they haven’t had to report in for the last nine months.

Parents, especially empty-nesters, can become resentful of the changes and accommodations that need to be made by having their child/children re-enter their physical space.

Some of the major challenges faced by parents:

Not asking too many questions. This is especially true if the children are approaching their junior or senior year in college. Parents want to make sure there is a return on their college investment and are often anxious about their children landing a job or making plans for graduate school. Students often feel that these conversations turn into interrogations, and everyone leaves unhappy.

Negotiating responsibilities. Some students act as if they are guests at an all-inclusive hotel. They don’t feel the need to do chores or help out around the house.

Establishing boundaries. Life is different now, and parents often feel that they are walking on eggshells. One minute their son/daughter is an independent, soon-to-be graduate and the next they’ve regressed into childish behavior.

Don’t let negative feelings percolate. The best bet is to set the tone from the get-go, make your expectations known and discuss any issues openly.

Once the dust settles, you’ll enjoy spending time with your young adult children. Don’t be surprised if you’re impressed by their maturity, their curiosity and the way they have grown.

And guess what? You’ll have to go through the whole “letting go” process again in just a few months when they leave.

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