As a parent, you’d like to make your kid’s future college breaks as warm and memorable as possible. But will you be able to do that if your newly-flown offspring comes home snarly and inconsiderate?
What if your newly minted college student decides to stay out until all hours on the night before Thanksgiving, and you toss and turn and lose sleep until 3:00 a.m. because you’re worried there’s been a car accident?
What if your child brings home overnight guests without asking — as though your house is his own?
What if your new “adult” college student decides to spend the entire break watching TV and playing video games — while you take care of all the grocery shopping, meal prep, cleaning, and yard work that keeps your household running smoothly?
Will this make for a warm, memorable college break for you, Mom?
Or will you spend the week squelching down resentment, biting your tongue, and chafing inside that your child is not turning out the way you’d hoped?
There’s a great way to head head off these problems early on.
Have a friendly, honest conversation with this child now, in the month before he heads of to college.
Cheerfully let your child know what life is going to look like when he’s home for college breaks.
1. Tell him you’ll expect him to be considerate and fun to be around.
“Son, when you come home on college breaks, we expect that you’ll be considerate and kind to all the people in our home — just as all responsible adults are when visiting someone else’s house.”
2. Tell him you’ll expect him to let you know his whereabouts.
“Son, we’re going to ask that when you’re staying with us during a college break and you go out for a day or for an evening, you’ll let us know where you’re going and when you plan to be back so we’ll have no reason to worry. If you can’t get back by the time you tell us that’s OK — just call or text us and let us know your revised plan.”
3. Tell him that you’ll expect him to ask first before bringing home overnight guests.
“Son, when you’re staying with us during college breaks, we’ll want you to request permission from us before having any overnight guests.”
4. Tell him that you’ll expect him to cheerfully chip in with household chores, as all responsible adults do when visiting other people’s houses.
Put in the phrase: “That seems reasonable, doesn’t it?”
5. Tell him just how long his “college breaks” can be.
“Son, and oh –one other thing. Remember that staying at our house is free for you! We’re glad to have you live with us rent-free as long as you’re enrolled in (and making good progress through) a full-time academic or job training program. If you decide at any point not to go to school anymore, don’t worry. That’ll be OK; we can work out some market rate rental payments for you.”
(Be kind and cheerful, but firm as you say this. It may one day be the boundary that protects you from having to support college-dropout adult children into their 30’s and beyond.)
Are you kidding?!?!
“Are you kidding?!?” I can hear some parents bellowing. “What 18 to 24-year-old kid is going to want to live under these conditions?”
Our goal is to treat our children with deep and tender love at every point on their growing up journeys, but at the same time make Mom and Dad’s soft padded nest just uncomfortable enough that the little birds can’t wait to fly.
Want a little more help from me on this subject?
My post on “7 Criteria To Decide: Should Your Healthy 20-Something Kids Live With You?” is here.
My emphatic post recommending the must-read Meg Jay book The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter–And How to Make the Most of Them Now is here.
Remember, there’s no part of parenting more important than setting your kid up for successful college and career life.
For clear, step-by-step help getting your kids through college debt-free and into jobs they love afterward, don’t rely on a loose collection of blog posts. You’ll miss hundreds of details that way. Instead, get your copy of my book:
You can “Look Inside” the book on Amazon for free by going to:
(Tell your friends.)
You can see the “Top 9 Questions Parents Are Asking Me About LAUNCH,” here.
Read just one chapter of LAUNCH every 1-3 months while your child’s in middle school and high school, and you’ll know every viable strategy for debt-free college at exactly the right time to implement it.
And if your child’s already well past middle school? That’s OK; you can run to catch up. But the process of getting your kids through college debt-free goes more smoothly the earlier you start it – especially if you’re not planning to save up any money to pay for college.
Do you have friends who are parenting kids ages 18 – 26? SHARE this post on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn right now.
What about you?
What strategies have you found for having a great time with kids who are home on college breaks? Comment below or LIKE Jeannie Burlowski Author on Facebook, find this post on that page, and let’s talk about it there.
Who is Jeannie Burlowski?
Jeannie is a full-time author, academic strategist, and speaker. Her writing and speaking help parents set their kids up to graduate college debt-free and move directly into careers they excel at and love. Her work has been featured in publications such as The Huffington Post, USA Today, NerdWallet, and US News and World Report.