Parenting college kids home for the summer


June 24, 2016

Flexibility, acceptance are key in navigating new adult-to-adult relationships when college kids come home for the summer.


When our daughter started her first year of college, we weren’t thinking of the inevitable transition that would occur when she came home for the summer after her freshman year.  But we learned a few things along the way about parenting a college kid.  Though it was exciting to see how she had changed and grown, we learned that our parenting techniques had to change and grow as well. It’s vital to establish expectations for everyone in this new adult-to-adult relationship. Some of the things we learned:

Identify and discuss potential conflicts early

Communication is the key to peace, and identifying everyone’s expectations can reduce stress and tension so that everyone can enjoy the summer.  Important points for discussion include: summer employment, finances (saving and spending), household responsibilities, use of the family car, visitors, routines and curfew.  We found it helpful to explain some expectations are “common courtesies” rather than “rules.”

Be flexible

Even if you think you’ve established a routine that works for everyone, things can change and you have to be willing to revise the plan with give and take on both sides to maintain a harmonious environment.

Be positive

College students home for the summer aren’t actually “home” a lot, so it’s tempting to impart your advice and feedback (i.e. nagging) on them in the moments you do get to spend together. Even though it can be hard to resist, this is a surefire way to make them not want to come home at all. We found that scheduling time with our college student to discuss truly important matters got better results and let everyone enjoy the time when she was home.

Be accepting

College is a time of change, and your student may return home with different ideas or even a different appearance.  While it’s not necessary to compromise your own beliefs, learning to accept your student as an adult will go a long way toward your future relationship.

Remember to enjoy having them home

Having your student home from college isn’t always filled with stress and conflict. It’s great to plan some special things for the whole family to take advantage of the time you do have together. Just remember that it usually works out better to plan ahead and get everyone’s input.

Coming home from college can be stressful for everyone. It’s hard for a student when parents can’t see how their young adults have grown and changed, and it’s hard for parents to see that their student won’t be stepping back into the same roles they had before they left for college.  However, learning to understand everyone’s needs and how to communicate effectively can make summer a great experience for everyone.


This post was written by Elizabeth Thielke, author of Busy Mom Blog where she’s been writing about whatever comes to mind since 2003. A nurse by day and a blogger by night, she and her husband have three children, and when she’s not at a kid’s sporting event or driving someone around, you can find her pleading with a disinterested pile of laundry to fold itself.