66 answers

How Much Should Your House Rules Change for Your College Student Coming Home?


I am a proud mother of a Freshman College student who lives in a dorm while attending college. He is 3 hrs away from home. He is doing well and we are adjusting.

My question is how much should my set of rules change for him? He hasn't been home since he left for college and he is coming home this weekend. My normal curfew for my high school boys is 12 am unless they are working and 1 am is tops then. I also have never allowed girlfriends to stay over or be in my home when I am not here. I expect all of my children to pitch in. My 3 basic rules are respect your parents, my home, and each other. There are some rules I won't budge on. However, I am thinking a little later curfew may be ok. What do others think? He has already told me most of his friends don't stay at home when coming home to avoid rules. I don't feel this is an option for him because he is still supported by me completely. I pay all tuition, room and board, and basic living needs. I love my son dearly and I want to keep a good relationship but I am not his friend I am his mother. One more thing, I have a hard time sleeping if he isn't home so I stay up until he gets home.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

First and foremost, thank you to everyone who responded. I can't tell you how much these responses helped me. My first take away is that I do have to realize my son is an adult. I spoke to him on the phone last night and we talked about this weekend. He understood my thoughts and he felt like I was being fair. We agreed that his curfew would be 1 am unless we agreed to another time because of a specific event. We also agreed that he could stay at a friends as long as I knew where he was and could reach him if needed. No other rules are changing and he didn't expect them to. I never once brought up the fact I was paying his way and didn't have too because he already planned his weekend. He has plans on Friday night, Saturday he is working at his old job and Sunday we are having family time. Once again I am proud of my son, he knows my thoughts and ways and eased my concerns. I want to say my biggest take away from all of the comments was that I needed to Trust in the Lord and Pray! In the back of my head, I know this is always the answer but somehow seem to always want to take over. I feel so at peace knowing how I will handle my not being able to sleep until he gets home. I also want to take all of those young adults who answered, your thoughts helped me realize I need to loosen the reigns a little. I am going to remind myself to never hold finances over my son's head. Instead I will tell him what I am really feeling. Afterall, if he does something really out of line we can revisit my financing his way. Thanks again to all.

Featured Answers

Well, when I went home for the weekend or holidays, I was expected to let Mom know where I was going, just in case. Although I stayed out real late a few times & she got upset that I didn't let her know, she didn't "ground" me, she just said next time leave a note at least. I think since he's 18??? that 1 am would be sufficient. What is there to do past 1am? If he decides to hang out w/others or sleepover, he should let you know, just in case, so you'll know where he's at or where he was headed off to. Yes, he's in college but just freshly in college. I think it'd be a little different if he was 21 & came home for the weekend. Good luck!

I would tell him that he is in the house now and when he is here. It can be 1 am when he is away, you can't control his actions but you would hope he has and will make good judgements in what he do and decide because that is how you raised him.

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Hi L.,

I’m only 6 years out of college and lived at home the entire time I attended college. My parents didn’t paid for my tuition or books b/c I had scholarships and worked part-time but they allowed me to live in their home to save on living expenses and to this day I am extremely grateful for that support. I say all this to preface my opinion that your “House” rules seem completely reasonable to me. My parents did recognize that I was an adult and ease up on the curfew time while I was in college but some of their rules have not changes just because their children are grown. Like NEVER allowing boyfriends/girlfriends to spend the night, be in a bedroom with us, or be in the house without someone else there. Even when my unmarried siblings go home to visit, these rules are still in place. At the time, I had younger siblings that were still living at home and I understood that my parents had a responsibility to teach them and that I had a responsibility to respect that it was my parent’s home. I never doubted that my parents loved me, but it was always understood that if I didn’t want to respect the rules of their home I was free to get my own home elsewhere. If you were just now trying to implement these rules I could see it not going over that well, but if you have an open conversation with him about this it will probably be better received then you think especially if you are considering adjusting some of the rules to respect that he’s now an adult. Tell him what you told us about not being able to sleep until he’s home and ask him what time he thinks an appropriate curfew is and include him in the decision. You sound like a great mom and I’m sure your son will not forget everything you’ve taught him just because he’s in college. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

L., I know this is a tough adjustment time. My 20 year old is a Junior at the University of Houston. He has always lived on campus during the weekdays and will come home on weekends, unless he has an exam on Saturdays or an activity going on with his fraternity. When he is home on the weekends he is not to stay out all night, unless staying the night with a guy friend. We ask him to be home by 2:00 at the latest but don't get overly upset if he comes in a little past 2:00. We have tried to be more flexible about this as time has gone by because he is after all almost 21. But we have told him there really is not a good reason to be out driving that late mostly because it is not safe. We too have never allowed a girl in the house when we are not here and that still goes. People are going to tell you that you don't know what he is doing while he is away at school. Yes, that is true but while living in our home there must be some rules. We too pay his tuition, room and board. We don't hold that over his head because that can cause resentment. But at the same time we feel if we are doing our best to give him every opportunity at a good education we deserve respect from him when he is home. Plus, he has a 14 year old brother who is looking to him as a role model.
Sometime he does not like the rules but he also sees he has other friends that are having to work their way though school and how hard that can be. Their grades suffer sometimes from having to work and his grades have always been really good because he does not have to work yet. My son though has usually always be a good kid. He has never been in any real trouble. With all this said, it is hard to let go. They are becoming adults, but as long as he lives in our home there will be rules. Rules that can become more flexible with age, but still rules.
Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi L.,

Now that your son is in college you have a new job as his mother...to teach him how to be an adult. He should know how you feel, but you just might lose him if you don't recognize his new statis as an "adult". He runs his life completely by himself at school. Why would he want to come home if you treat him like he is still a child?

He'll come home because he loves you! He'll come home because he wants to be an active member of your wonderful family. My curfew when I was in high school was midnight, yet I didn't have one when I came home as a freshman in college. I respected my mother and came home at reasonable times and always made sure she knew what my plans were, but the "high school" rules no longer applied. She respected my control of my life and I respected her need to know I was safe.

You're in uncharted waters and it's going to have some rough spots, but if you communicate with your son as an "adult" with concerns that need to be discussed, I'm sure that you both can come to a "when you're under my roof" agreement for acceptable behavior.

Good luck, trust, respect and love as you go!

1 mom found this helpful

I'm only 26...so it hasn't been that long since I was in your son's shoes. Once my brothers and I went to college, there was no longer a curfew. Howver, my mom still asked us when we thought we might be home (and she still waited up) and to call if we would not be coming home at all. (no matter the time or reason) That being said, we were still expected to keep our rooms cleaned up when we came home, help clean up around the house (after all we were not guests, but family memebers) and were not allowed to have members of the opposite sex in our bedrooms. My parents decided that once we were in college and making our own decisions during the week, we were responsible to make our own decisions during the weekends if at home...as long as we still respected our parents home and parents. Hope this helps!

1 mom found this helpful

I think that yes, you are Mom and your rules apply but you must also move your relationship into the adult/adult stage. He is no longer a child. He doesn't need you to stand over his shoulder anymore. You need to stand beside him now. You role as Mom takes a different turn. You are now a trusted ADVISOR and listener. I would not hold the fact that you pay all of his expenses over his head. You don't want to push him into making a stupid decision like quitting school to prove a point. That woul defeat the purpose. I would sit back a little and see what kind of job you did raising him. If his grades are good and you know he is not partying his life away then leave the boy alone. I do agree with all of the housekeeping rules. Men need to be self sufficient. Curfews are touchy with older children. I would tell him something like...I think you are old enough to decide when you need to be home. I will expect you to be respectful and quiet when you come in. I will not put up with any shennanigans. Remind him he is setting an example for his siblings and you expect him to remember that. You trusted him enough to let him go to school 3 hours away.

I agree with the no girlfriends rule. I would ask him to be respectful of you and come home at a decient hour. To call you if he is going to be late. I am not sure but most likely he dosent really have anywhere else to stay if you are paying for everything. I would say no later than 2 thats when all the clubs close. If he is of age. I do not agree with the others not staying at there home when they come to town. Sounds like he is trying to get you to lighten up or be lax on your rules. Go with your gut and expect him to live up to the morals and values you gave him and follow threw. If things need adjusting along the way then do so but no to far as to let him demoralize your home and belives. Good luck.

Think 2am is a reasonable curfew for someone in college and living away from home. I wouldn't allow girls to be in the house or sleepover...that is just asking for trouble.
You should try not to wait up for him...try to sleep. Ask him to let you know when he arrives home so you don't worry and you know what time he made it home. If you can extend that trust to him you might feel better when he proves himself and then next time you really can sleep. Good luck.

Hello L., one thing I always helped my children to understand, is, just because you are older, the rules don't change. We have to be very careful with this. If you allow your son to manipulate you into changing this rule, by saying "some of his friends don't go home because of the rules", where exactly will it end? Not only that, but, his brothers are watching, and it won't take long before they are manipulating you to do what they want. If you were already contemplating changing some things, then okay, but don't be manipulated into doing so. Life isn't that convenient, and that is what we as parents are supposed to be preparing them for. All being said, make sure you pray about it and be spirit lead.

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