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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.

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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.

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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.

NOT AT ALL! DO NOT CHANGE YOUR RULES! When he comes home, you are responsible (kind of, he also has responsibility there) for his safety and security. Nothing good ever happens after midnight and you are risking DWIs (either by him or others out at those times of night). Do NOT allow girls in the house unsupervised (my inlaws made that mistake and it only took once to change their lives). Maybe it is time you sit and have a talk about the "whys" that you have these rules. It is especially important for you to keep these rules intact because of your other boys...if you lighten up the rules for him, they will expect that for themselves too. Good Luck and God Bless!

My little guy is only 8 months old so I am not speaking as a mother but when I was in college and went home for the weekend, my parents had the same rules in effect as when I was living with them in my teens. The curfew was 10 because that's when they went to sleep. They also had wacky rules such as turning on the timer to ten minutes when you use the phone because they did not have call waiting. When the timer goes off, they would unplug the phone. It was very hard for me to follow these rules when I was independent in college. I was so annoyed that I visited my parents a lot less than my friends who also lived in our hometown.

Your rules sound reasonable to me but as an adult, your son might rebel against them if he feels you are trying to put your rules on him. Treat him like an adult and talk about how things have changed because he is older and come to an agreed upon set of rules. You might have to extend the curfew by an hour or something but if he is part of the process, he might not think of you as controlling.

As a daughter, 25 years of age, I believe that before college, children should strictly follow that rules of their parents at home. At college, they still have to follow but they can choose independence if they want to. and after college, especially when working already, independence is highly preferred.
I am working for 5 yrs already and I decided to live somewhere near my office just months ago. I go home only on weekends and when I am at home, i have to follow the curfew of my mom which is 10 pm (including the past years). Well 10 pm is a bit late because before, it should be like 8 or 9 pm.
The thing is, i did not move out only for the reason of independence and living near my office. The number one reason is, for me to be able to do whatever i want without asking for a permission i believe i can never get.
Lesson here: parents, if you think your child is of right age, let him/her do what she want, go where she want with whomever she wanted to go with (friend or bf/gf).
Why? Because it hurts more when your child would have to lie in order for you to allow him. Example: I am going somewhere with my friends where in fact, ia m going somewhere with my boyfriend
And when something bad happens, you are not very well informed, ouch!


I suggest that you start a negotiation with your son with the opening salvo...What do you think reasonable house rules for you would be? You might remind him to consider that there are other kids in the house and that you don't really go to sleep until he's home. My parents did that at a certain point and it worked really well for us.


Since you have two other adolescent boys at home I think your "house rules" should stay very constant. A freshman is not that much older, ergo, not THAT much more "mature" than when he left home a month (?) ago. And, as you say, you are his sole means of support/finances.

But I do think it is considerate of you to begin thinking of ways to ensure that your relationship with your eldest son stays strong, as he matures into manhood. This will be the model for how you relate to each of your other sons as they mature, too. So it is good to try to make this transition as "right" as you can (knowing that we always learn from our experiences and tend to modify future actions based on the reactions we receive.)

I suggest that you have an "adult-to-adult" talk with him as soon as he gets home. (1) Let him know that you expect him to follow the house rules that are established, both for his own safety/well-being and as a role-model to his brothers that are living under those rules. (2) Then, to show that you understand that he is maturing, let him know that if there is something "special" that he wishes to do that will extend beyond the regular rules, he can talk with you in advance and extend the curfew accordingly, on a case-by-case basis. This should mean that, when he is home and does not have some special, event-driven reason to stay out, that he will come on home (so that he is not just "hanging out" somewhere. An occasional event MIGHT be open-ended simply because he does not KNOW what his group of friends will "get up to" until they are together - but this should be the exception, not the rule. (3) I assume that he has a cell phone (and even if not) he can certainly call you if there is some real, unexpected event that will alter his intended schedule - at any time of the day or night. It is simple courtesy for one to call and inform those who are waiting on them, if their plans have changed (i.e. if he told you he would be home for dinner but, after parting your company, found he had the chance to make a date with the girl he has been wanting to take out, then he should call you as soon as his plans change, to give you as much advance notice as possible.) (4) Last, you need to learn to relax and go on to bed. You will continue to be subconsciously "aware" of the comings and goings in your household, so I don't think you will fail to be aware of a problem, if he does miss his arrival time by an hour or more. THEN you have permission to get worried and call him. Most kids (and young adults) would rather check-in with you, than to risk having you follow-up on their LACK of communication.

Congratulations for knowing your role as "mom" and not "buddy/chum." In your "adult-to-adult" talk with him, I think he should know, in no uncertain terms, that NOT staying at home is NOT an option. For now, this should probably be an unqualified position, but the real basis for this is 'as long as he is under your financial care and/or is under 21 years of age' (or something like that), that will be your position. I say "unqualified" because you don't want state your position in such a way as to give him a "goal" to reach the conditions and then pull this position out and say, "I'm no longer staying here (at home) because...".

The sooner that a parent can begin to have adult-like conversations with their mature(ing) children, the better for getting agreement on issues - and the better for teaching moments. I believe that MOST people, regardless of age, respond well when faced with "why" another person (even a parent) feels the way he/she does. I would try to make that conversation a private one with him, when the other boys and even your husband are not around. You want your son to begin to relate to you as another adult, in addition to the dynamic that he will ALWAYS relate to you as a parent.

God bless ya, mom, with discernment, wisdom, and understanding simultaneously with the ability to remain firm, but calm and loving.


I don't have an answer, but I like the way you think. My son will be going off to college next fall and recently turned 18 and he thought we should extend his curfew. I told him only for special occasions, work & school. Currently his curfew is 12 midnight which my husband I both think is a good time. I would also like to know what to do when this happens to us next year.

I know the weekend has passed, but maybe this will help. Don'
t change the things that you expect within your home just because someone has left for a while. You should have a sit down with them, maybe over coffee or something- just them. Tell them that our of respect for things at home, you would prefer that they be in by 1 if they do go out visiting. If you didn't allow overnignt guests before, don't change that. They can do what they decide at their home, but you have other children in your home, and if it is not right for them- your son should be able to respect what you have going on in your home.
My daughter has been off to college now 4 years, and talkiing about what you expect is the key. It is great to have my girl home when she comes, but I get dissappointed when she wants to catch up on sleep- cause she is in the comforts of home. She can come home for the weekend, and sleep til 1 in the afternoon. She doesn't do that any more, but it took a few times of my getting mad, and waking her up! Look darling, I would say..... I never get to see you, can you please remember that when you are home too! I miss you and want time with you too. Her top complaint for holidays and weekends away from studies, is that she is spread so thin. She feels like she is always visiting somebody. When she comes home, she wants to rest. We have come to a mutual up time of about 10 AM............ oh well, life can't be perfect all the time! Best of luck as you enter this time, and your youngins see how things get established too.....
Blessings, Laur

Hi L.,

I do not have college aged children BUT I remember being young and living with my parents rules and I feel your rules are very fair. Children know that they are to respect their parents in their home, I used to smoke, drink,etc but I knew my parents did not allow it so I would not do it in their home out of respect. Your son is still young I am sure since this is his first year in college, rules are a good things and need to be obeyed, when he proves himself to be more responsible, you will know when to lighten up a little more ;)

When I first started reading this I thought "why would she be putting rules on a college student?" but then I got to the part where you pay EVERYTHING for him.
He doesn't pay any of his own bills?
Then you definetly have the rule-making abilities. And I believe that you'll continue to have that ability until he supports himself. Age and school status doesn't earn freedom. Hard work and supporting one's self does.
He sure is lucky to have such a generous mother! I hope I helped a little! Good day

Remember the golden rule: "She who has the gold makes the rules"? Even when he is no longer dependent upon you, he should still follow your rules. For curfew, tell him that if he chooses not to respect the 1am you have in place then for that night he needs call well ahead of time and tell you he is going to a friend's house and to stay there for the night. And "ahead of time" doesn't mean scaring you half to death with a midnight phone call, lol! This way, you are reassured that he is safe somewhere and also you are not kept up till arrival time. If you both have cell phones and he for whatever reason thinks he cannot call, have him text you his sleeping plans.

I am 35 years old, 2-time divorcee and mother of an 18 year old and a 17 year old, and when I go to visit my grandmother, I still follow her curfew and rules. I don't see any reason why rules should all of a sudden no longer apply just because he is a young adult. In my opinion, it is simply showing you respect.

Hi L.! To start, I don't have any college age children, but I'm a little closer to college age myself -- 24 -- so it might give you a different perspective on things. I realize it must be difficult since this is your oldest away from home for the first time, too. It's a great idea to keep the "respect your parents, my home, and each other" rules (they should be kept forever in my opinion, regardless of your children's ages).

That being said, you may consider not giving him a curfew at all, atleast this first time back home go-round (if it doesn't work out for the two of you then you might have to establish a midnight or 1am curfew). College provides a safe place for kids to finish growing up and transition from living under their parent's rules to making their own (hopefully smart) decisions and making "rules" for themselves (even though they don't seem much like rules when you make them for yourself). Tell him before he comes home that the basic rules haven't changed, but that you have decided to trust that he will make good decisions about a reasonable time to be home at night. By now he should know you have a difficult time sleeping if he's not home, so he should be considerate enough to be home by a decent hour. If you're not sure he'll remember or even think about it, you may ask him what time he plans to be home so you'll know if you need to schedule a nap during the day. Or you could simply remind him, something along the lines of: "I know you've been on your own for a while, so you may not remember that I have a difficult time getting to sleep when you're staying here and you're not home yet." Give him the benefit of the doubt -- you want to remind him, not make him feel like he can't make his own decisions. The decision to be home at a decent hour is a coached decision, not one that was made for him. :-)

In regards to the girlfriends staying over .... I agree with you 100% for the high school and younger aged kids because their girlfriends usually live within driving distance. But college is a little different. What if your college student wants to bring a girl home to meet Mom and Dad? Even if this isn't in the near future as far as you can see right now, it may be a good idea to think about it so that you're not caught off guard if and when he does ask. I don't think they should be allowed to share a room or a bed, though (my personal moral beliefs), but you know what you can accommodate.

Now is the time to pray he remembers and utilizes everything you've taught him from the beginning. Kids (and adults) will make mistakes. It's what we learn from those mistakes that matters more than dwelling on why we made them.

I would think extending the curfew would be okay; but I would stick to the "no girls" rule. Your son may be in college; but he is NOT married and he is NOT financing his college or his living expenses. I would expect him to follow the same rules as your other children (except the curfew) to help set the example of still being respectful of your parents and their home even if you no longer live in the same home.

Good luck. I'm sure everything will turn out fine.

I think you should stick to your house rules. My husband and I have two children, girl 21 and a son 20. They both still live at home, work and pay all their bills that they incur, and are very responsible young adults. My husband and I are still holding to the same rules also, that they have to respect the house rules, which are the same, honor your parents, the house rules and everyone pitches in on the house. I think as parents, who serve the Lord, we need to teach our children (whatever age) how to be in this world but not of it as the Bible teaches. There is absolutely no reason for anyone to be out past 1 in the morning,nothing ever good comes out of it. Mom, hold fast to the rules that you place in your home, your children may not like them now, but I promise they will love you for it when they are older and have a home and family of their own. Our kids don't like some of the rules of our house but they are still home and have told us several times that it has taught them to be more responsible and has actually kept them from getting into serious trouble. As you honor the Lord in rearing up your children in all His ways, He is faithful to bring blessings on you and your household. Be blessed

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!

Well, I am facing a similar challenge. I prayed for God to give me wisdom. These scriptures came to mind.Raise a child up in the way that they shall go and they shall never part.Parents be not irritating to your children.Great is thy peace of thy children when they are taught of the Lord. Finally came the conclusion that I should extend the curfew until about 1:30 am. I follow the same rule you have set about the girlfriend.I remind him that he has younger siblings that look up to him.As for going to sleep, I had that problem his freshman year also. He is a sophmore this year.I promise it gets better.Trust GOD in all things.

I also have a daughter who is a freshman in college this year...basically, I am a little more lenient on curfew - maybe 1 hour or so, but otherwise, the SAME house rules apply!! I think of it like this - this is MY house and she will abide by my rules while she is here. I expect her to respect my husband and I, as well as her sisters while she is at home for the weekend. The thing is, I can't sleep either while she is out, so while she is out having a good time, it is at my expense.

Good luck with your college student, and I am sure he will be happy to be home for the weekend and it will not pose any problems at all...I have found that my daughter normally is home to eat some of Mom's cooking (she said dorm food is OK, but not that great!) and wash clothes. :-)

Hi L.,,,,
drop the curfew,, respest your other rules good luck L.

I would extend it to 1am or 2am but no later since he is only home once in a while and I would hope he would want to spend time with the family when he is home and obey your rules. I also hope he is mature enough to know better but I was that age once and I totally understand that he wants his freedom. This is definitely a tough call. Do what you think is best for your family. Good luck.

I'm all for rules, but some rules should be made to adjust with time and age. You mentioned you stay up until he comes home. I can see doing that when your children first start going out by themselves but once they've gotten older I see no reason for it if you trust them. You're only hurting yourself. My mother used to do that until I got married and moved out and it made me feel as if she didn't trust me even though I came in at reasonable times. She made me feel as if it were my fault she wasn't getting enough sleep when in reality it was her choice to stay up and wait. Also, you're choosing to pay for his college and living expenses and this shouldn't be used as a way of having control over him or making him feel guilty. Meaning no disrespect, it sounds as if you don't trust your son and you don't trust the Lord to watch over him and keep him safe. I speak with experience. My "baby" just turned 18 and I have 2 older children, one in college (in a dorm) and one married with her own children. With all of them I did stay up a few nights to make sure they came in at a reasonable hour but after that I was able to go to sleep because I trusted them to make good decisions and I put my faith in the Lord to watch over them. It's not easy letting your children grow up and away from you but if you want to keep your relationship with your son good he needs to feel that you trust him.

Hi L.,
I am a mom of 8 children. I currently have one whom just graduated from Texas Tech. I also currently have 4 in college, (2) at Texas A&M, (1) at Blinn & (1) at Univ. of Arkansas. I have 2 boys at home, both in 9th grade and 1 daughter at home in 7th grade. Since I have so many they come and go on different weekends and sometime we get lucky and they all make it in on the same weekend. I can visit the ones in College Station when ever I wish because it is only 1 1/2 hours away, which is great. But my oldest who attended Texas Tech, 9 hours away, and my freshman son who is at Univ. of Arkansas is also 8 1/2 hours away, I don't see as often. I understand it is hard for you to sleep when your child is in town and he is not home, but keeping a 12:00 curfew is not really realistic after they have been in college. You should want him to be in your home when he is in town and have him feel comfortable about coming home. Talk to him about what is a curfew he feels is reasonable for you both to live with. So you are giving him some responsibility in the decision making, as he does now at college. He knows your concerns if he lived up to the 12:00 curfew while in high school. And if he is going to go past a curfew you both decide on then he should sleep at a friends home and call you 2 hours ahead so you can get your rest. And offer him the option of having 1 or 2 of his friends spend the night at your house, if he wants to stay up with them and continue past the agreed curfew, this way you have him home, and he can spend time with the guys, because I am sure not all of his best friends attend the same college and when they get the college breaks they want to hang out together and catch up and share experiences. This is what works in our home and I do love having all the kids around when they are in town, don't get me wrong it does wear me out too! But its a good wear out and I am ready for them to go back to college when its time for them to leave. Until the next time...I hope this helps. K.

It sounds as if you are clear on what you need and expect from your son. I don't think the rules should change much, either, unless, as you say, maybe a little later curfew. Talk to him, see what he thinks, and explain that you're not trying to be punitive, but you can't sleep when anybody is out. As for that business of most of his friends don't stay at home to avoid rules, that's manipulation talk. If his friends had a good relationship with their parents and weren't trying to hide anything they would stay with the parents.

Dear L.,

Great question. I can answer from experience, having made bad decisions. In my mind now there is no question - he who holds the purse strings gets to set the rules. Do not question your judgment. An 18 year old is not ready to set his own rules. Like the analogy I've heard before, he is the kite, and you are still holding the kite string. You decide when it is appropriate to let the kite fly a little higher. Someday you will let the string go, and the kite will fly on its own. But until then, you watch for trustworthiness. As he is cheerfully going along with house rules, and being a good role model for his siblings, let the string out a little. Let him stay out later. Make it clear to him from the first: You make your own rules as soon as you totally support yourself. Dont' back off. Someday he will actually thank you for it. My son, at college, wanted to move into an apartment with his girlfriend, with us paying the rent. We said "no way." Of course we said "no" for moral reason, but there is the practical as well. They broke up last weekend. It would be very hard to share an apartment with a girl after you've broken up! He couldn't see that. We could, just because we're further down the road than he is.

Also, give him choices, and let him reap the consequences of those choices. Example: During Christmas break he can 1)get a job, or 2) sleep in every day and be lazy, but make it clear that the consequence of working is spending money (as well as learning to be responsible, etc. etc.), and the consequence of "relaxing" and "taking a break" is NO spending money (as well as laziness, etc. etc). And then do not give in and give him spending money if he does not work! We ALL need to learn that there are consequences to our choices, and the earlier we teach that to our children, the better.
As I said, I am apeaking from hindsight, and knowing that if I could do it over I would do it differently.
One last word - be careful not to go on and on when you talk to your son. Make your stand, stand on it, and then be quiet. Speak the truth in love, then close your mouth. Hug a lot, do special things, show love. Treat him like a man, and show respect, but don't harp at him.

Best wishes!!
Get a book called "The Firstborn Advantage" by Kevin Lehman.

While I don't think your rules are unreasonable, I think it might be helpful to really consider the fact that you are trusting him to make his own decisions while he is at college. And yes, you should have standards for him while he is visiting (which is what he is doing, *visiting* home). But I do wonder if you are trying to keep some rules in place for no other reason than control. Do you stay up at night waiting for him to return to his dorm/apartment/frat while he is at school? You raised him and now you need to put some faith in the job that you did. Relax and get some sleep! Also, keep in mind that while you are paying his college it can be harmful for your relationship long term to use it as leverage to force him to visit you. You are his mother but you can also be a friend now. My husband's father is a minister and was fairly strict in raising him. But when my husband went away to school they became best friends. It's awesome.

I would give up the curfew rule. You have to start realizing he is an adult. The others I do not think that they are unreasonable at all.

You do not say if it is just for the week-end but I am assuming it is. I feel he needs to abide by your rules all the way. Maybe the 12 is a little too much, but he has to understand you still have other kids at home, abiding by those rules & he needs to be a good role model for one, and also it is being respectful to you. What is one week-end & actually he may get some well needed rest:).I know when my daughter was away & came home all she realized she wanted when she came home was a little babying, some good food, & family time.

I am also the mother of a college student. Shannon is now 22. My rules are don't do anything in my home now that you didn't do when you were in high school. The main thing I asked of Shannon,is let us know where you are going and if you are not coming home let me know so I don't worry. It's not about rules anymore it's about respect. Be courteous and pick up after yourself, it's not a hotel. Go to bed and if you can't sleep until he gets home, he won't know it, but you will have a peace of mind that he is home safe, and good luck.

Do not change one iota - you are still the parent supporting him, but most importantly, nothing good ever happens after midnight. If nothing else, those who have been drinking or doing drugs, are on the road. Save your sanity and your child's life by sticking with midnight!

I would say little or nothing. Seems to me that you are doing a great job not only with your rules but also by raising them. Consider makeing an exception every now and then with previous request but that's all. Besides, college kids should come to visit to spend time with the family anyway.

Not too long ago I was in your son's position. Now I'm a wife and mother and I feel I can understand you. The basic rules should apply. With that said, trust him to respect you even when you're not around. Don't let females sleep over, but let them come over when you're not home and let him stay out. He will come home, after all you said you pay for everything! Allow him to show you he can be trusted. When I was in school many of my friends didn't go home because of rules. A good number of them found some reason not to go like summer school or friends' home. Understand that he lives on his own with his own rules. I'm sure you did a great job with him, so allow him to show you!

Hi L.

Many moons ago, my mom and I came up with a compromise. She explained that her reason for setting a curfew was so she would know when to worry about me - not to try and control me. She said that she would be up waiting for me until she knew I was home safely. Yes, she said, I know that you are out all night at school and I don't know the difference, but I do know the difference when you are staying at home with me. What we did was this: I would tell her when I planned to be home, say 2:00 (after the clubs closed and we had gone to IHOP for breakfast). We would set an alarm clock for the time I had picked. I was responsible for getting home and turning it off before it woke her up. If there was a change in plans, I could call her and change the time (although, I never did this because I didn't want to be rude and wake her up). This way, I was able to stay out as late as I wanted to, and she knew not to worry about me. I respected her feelings (and her sleep) enough to get my butt home on time. Its an idea that might work for you...

Your house policies should shift from a focus on "protecting the child" to "respecting those who live in the house." Therefore, curfews should revolve around the disruption to the rest of the house when someone comes in late. Agree on a time he can come home after having a reasonable amount of freedom where it won't affect your sleep too much.

As for girlfriends, if you have a 12-year-old son, the example he sets for him should be the deciding factor. You might offer him the compromise that if a girlfriend stays over, she gets his bedroom and he must sleep on the couch. If she lives in the area, there might not be much need for her to stay overnight. And, if you personally find it offensive for religious reasons, etc., you are allowed to make any rule for your own house that would apply to ANY houseguest or family member.

He may be an "adult" now, but adults need to make smart decisions about their own behavior because of the consequences that affect OTHER PEOPLE. You can tell him that you understand that he has had to take care of himself, and you taking care of him is not the reason for the rules.

This might go better with a conversation between the two of you where you create the rules together based on the best interests of EACH person in the household, rather than you laying down the law.

I think whatever we instill on them to be we do while they are growing up so for that part your through raising him into being a good man, and I will add that it sounds like you've done a great job. There are still little eyes in the house so definately no opposite sex sleep overs. The curvew I'd lift to at least 230 a if any. I can't sleep either when they're out so I need a time for them to get put up safe. I call it respect for my beauty sleep. Back to lil eyes watching you don't want to be to strict lil eyes are looking at the advantages of graduating hs and going to college. So when they say uh he gets to... then well you graduate from school and go to college and you'll get to also.

You have gotten a lot of good advice. Keep the lines of communication open. Let him know that you expect him to be an example for his siblings and if they see him coming home at 3am , drinking and bring home girls then your other children are going to think it's okay. Also make him see it's not because you are treating him like a child but because you have to have respect for everyone in the house.
Good luck

Have the rules at your house changed since your son went to college? Sure your son is in a different environment at college and "everybody else... " Have God's rules for us changed since God gave them to Moses? After all we live in a different environment with different challenges and situations than our forefathers. You have two more sons at home. If you change the rules for son #1, what if son #2 decides to live at home and attend college? Then what, he lives at home under the "college" rules while you're still trying to enforce the rules for son #3?

You have worked hard teaching your son to respect himself, his family, and God. Can't he continue to show that respect for a weekend...or while he is home? If he chooses to stay at a friend's while home to avoid your rules, who chose to stepd away from the family relationship?

I am in a Sunday school class where many of us have college age children and grandchildren. What baffles me is when one has a pregnant daughter and the parents forgo the standards in which they raised their children and allow the daughter's boyfriend to move in, with the rationalization they are already living in a "marriage" relationship.

You are be tested mom, and not just by your son. Stand strong in your moral convictions. That's what builds character...in all of us.

Sit down and talk to your son about your concerns. It will show your respect for him and his new maturity and independence, but also talk about safety and his respect for you and your house rules (which are based on love and guidance, not the need to hover and control your kids!) He may be fine with a little later curfew, but with a phone call, or whatever. He'll have no reason to avoid the household rules that he himself helped to create and agreed on! And you know he'll be back off to school and his own life soon enough, so hopefully he'll see it as "humoring mom" in order to get some nice family time and free meals and laundry as a bonus! Hope you can work it out so you both have a nice time and can enjoy the visit!
My mom always waited up for me, too. Now I have three boys and completely understand! :)

My parents fully supported me through college and I had to respect their rules or the funds would dry up. I never had a curfew but new to call and let my parents know where I was and when I would be home. I also had to be part of the family time and my parents would let me know what was planned before coming home. As for the girlfriend issue. I grew up with 2 sisters so no boys in the house without a parent and no boys in the bedrooms. Well in college we brought home guys and they had to stay in a separate bedroom, no if ands or buts on this one. When I got engaged I still could not share a room. When at my parents house I respected their rules.

One rule that was set a long time ago was if I move home after college I would have to start paying rent after 1 year.

Relax a little but talk with your son about expectations before something goes south.

You sound EXACTLY like me!! I'm going thru the same thing with my 20 yr old son who just got home from Colorado. The rule for him is if he's not coming home (against the way I raised him, I know he drinks when he goes to friends houses so I don't want him to drive)he HAS to call and let me know. Yes, he's 20 but it's a respect and courtesy issue. Remember that you have other children who are watching how you are with him. One of my rules was no tatoos when you live with me or you have to move. My daughter got one at 19 and I calmly had a talk with her and she had to move out. (it was friendly) My son wants one but knows if he does, he'll have to move so he hasn't gotten one while living with me. Ease up a little, don't give in to the respect issue and all will work out fine. Good luck.

Like a lot of the responses here I would have to say at this point a curfew is probably a little unreasonable, b/c at this point he comes and goes as he pleases at school and you don't sit up waiting for him then. It's the one rule my parents eradicated for each of us when we finished high school, and it's a really great first baby step to establishing an adult relationship.
The other rules though should definately stand (drinking/smoking/girls etc.) esp w/ the younger siblings at home.

I agree with your 3 basic rules of respecting your parents, home and each other. But also remember that you also need to respect your son as an adult now too. Decide if you feel that the financial assistance you give him for college is because it is what you want to provide - or will you hold him "hostage" with it.

The world treats our 18 yr old and older children as adults (ie: the colleges will not allow you access to their info unless they authorize you to) so i feel as parents we must too. I personally think a young adult in college has the right to determine their own hours . BUT, i also agree that when they are living in another's home - they need to abide by what makes you comfortable, especially since you still have younger teens still at home and you will continue to "keep that one ear open" and not be able to sleep until all are home and safe (i was the same way).

i suggest you think a little about what you would expect if you had an adult friend staying in your home for a short stay (based on your current family situation with teens at home). If you would require them to be in at a certain time - then expect the same of your son. So whatever you would require, then have an "adult to adult" talk with your son and explain your expectations and why. Try to present it in a manner as what you would expect from another adult cuz the kids at this age do get defensive. Be real clear about expectations and responsibilities but also allow some leniency because he is an adult and needs to make judgement calls as well to learn to function as an adult - even if it is sometimes the wrong one.

My son has lived at home on and off since high school graduation. I no longer "listen" for his late arrival home and actually wear ear plugs to bed now). Because his work hours are weird and he often comes in really late after 3am, one of my rules is he cannot have any guests in the house while we are asleep (with the exception of one friend who we have known since they were in grade school).

FYI - it is great that you can provide all of your sons living expenses - but if he is not currently working - i suggest you encourage him to do so. Life is about setting priorities and multi-tasking. A young adult needs his "own money" to make purchasing decisions - that may be different than yours. Also when he begins to look for a career job after graduation, potential employers look at resumes to see work experience while a student to see how you can set priorities and manage your time.

About Me: i am a 54 yr old working mom of two adult kids - one still in college. Married 31 years.

I will give you my opinion although it may not be in line with your thoughts. I too am Christian and we serve the Lord with diligence. I have only one son, he is 23. He was almost 20 by the time he graduated high school. ordinarily, you have to let loose the reins at age 18, but since he was still in high school and living at home I still made the rules for him. Once he got out of high school, i treated him like a man and not a boy. I had some basic rules like call if your not coming home, or if you will be very late, just so i don't worry. but he is an adult, and should be treated like one. I don't really think that a curfew is fair to an adult. Or perhaps you could tell him that since you can't sleep while you are waiting for him, if he can't be home by X-time then make arrangements ahead to sleep at a friends house that night, and of course let you know by the X-time. Even though you pay for his college, you can't run his life, you can only take away that support if he can't live a decent life style. and then he still gets to be the one making the choice. My son chose the army, and he has trully become a man, i don't support him, stopped when he got out of high school, i gave him a certain amount of time to get a job and begin paying room and board. he did, but later when he quit his job and couldn't find another one, he ended up joining the army because I wouldn't just pay his way through life at age 21. As far as letting girls spend the night it is your house you don't have to let non-christian behavior into your home. of course if it is his college girlfriend he is bringing home to meet you, then I would suggest letting her stay in a room seperate from his, and maybe sleep with your door open. You don't want to put undo strain on your relationship with the girl he may end up making your daughter inlaw. Pray and ask God's guidence in what is appropriate, as you said you are not going to let sin into your home, but you can't control an adult child either. there is a happy line there somewhere! as far as chores, all family members should pull their share of the load, even a dinner guest would offer to help with the dishes! Blessings, S.

When it comes to the rules of your home, you can set whatever ones you want. however, i'm sure your son already knows what those rules are - so you probably don't have to go through them for him. he has tasted some freedom and is now not used to checking in and things like that, but I'm sure he'll pretty much follow the rules he grew up with. You may want to relax a little on the curfew thing and ask him to call you if he'll be out passed midnight or just explain to him that you're up worrying about him even though he is an adult now, so being home at a decent hour would be appreciated. I know when I came home from school that's what my mom told me. She didn't give me a curfew at all, but I was always home before 1 am (even of weekends) b/c I knew she'd be up too and I never wanted her to stay up till the wee hours of the morning. Your rules will have to change slightly now that he's an adult, b/c really - he doesn't have to follow any of them. punishment is pretty much out of your control right now. But I highly doubt he's gonna go wild and blow you off. You obviously set boundaries when he was growing up and I'm certain he'll respect those. just don't shove them down his throat. Above all, just enjoy the time he's at home.

Let me first say that I have the utmost respect for you and how you run your household. As for my house, we will serve the Lord too.
In my opinion, and because you have laid down the law to your children, your son should know what to expect when coming home. The rules are the rules of the house and there are other children to consider. Your oldest has a responsibility to set an example for younger sibling and it wouldn't hurt to point that out before he gets there.
However, he is at the age where it is normal to seperate from the parents rules and start to make his own based on the wisdom you have given him. Because he perhaps has earned it, I would extend the curfew maybe an hour for him, just to let him feel a sense of trust and respect towards him from you.
You have brought him up right, now put it in God's hands and give Him your trust. Pray that your son will make the right choices and continue to respect you and his dad. And when you pray, pray that you will have peace with this and therefore be able to sleep. After all, he does not live there on a full time basis, and I am sure you sleep when he is away even though you don't have any idea what he's up to!
God bless you and your home and enjoy your visit with your son.

They should not change that much. He should definitely respect your rules and not bring girls home and expect them to spend the night. BUT he is not in high school and college kids don't even head out til around 11pm and clubs don't usually close until 2or 3. We do not sleep until our child is home either, but at 18 he is an adult and letting him stay out one or two nights on a weekend is not bad. I assume he has a cell phone and you could request some kind of communication. Also let him know the household will not revolve around him, so the normal weekend activities will continue and not stop just so he can sleep. It is important to keep communication open. Don't assume they know what you want unless you say it.

It was 1990 when I graduated college and I am a girl but we still at curfews at college when living in the dorm. It was not til we were juniors that we didn't have a curfew. Of course I went to a church school so the boys curfew was 1 am and ours was 12 pm

As far as "curfew" goes, tell him that he should be home by 1, and if he wants to stay out all night then he needs to stay over at a friends house and that he has to tell you before he goes out or call you and tell you by 9 pm so that you are not up all night. I think, even though you support him completely, you have to give him the same freedom he has had at school. Don't play the control game; my house my rules....it will only deter him from coming home in the future. Mutual respect is best. Set some resonable rules, and if they are not followed then tell him he has to go. It's all about respect, understand and respect his new freeedom and "adulthood" then he will return the favor and hopefully comply with your rules. POwer plays are usually not the best way to get respect......so watch out! 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.

I have to put in my 2 cents worth too... I was one of those kids who didn't stay at their parents' house when they went home (which was not very often!) because of the rules. I fully respected their right to their rules, including the 12am curfew, but I didn't agree with them, so I didn't stay there.

I still think (now as a parent) that it is the parents' choice to make the rules of their house, but it is also the kids' choice on whether they want to stay there under those rules. I would be prepared that he may make that decision and be ready to respect that decision- both your decision to stick to your rules and his decision to go somewhere else.

Your house, your rules. You still have other children living at home. The only rule that I might reconsider is the curfew, but not by much. Besides, it's only for the weekend.

I'm in my 50's, and I (and my children) still abide by my parent's rules when we visit them at their house.

He sounds like a good boy. And I guess I'm wondering what kind of rules his friends are trying to avoid. They've all got "free reign" while they're off at college, so what's wrong with having to fit back into an old routine for a day or two every now and then?

I didn't mean to talk this much -- my vote is: later curfew only

I graduated in 2002 which isn't that long ago, but long enough for me have a wonderful 3 yr old and a great hubby. I lived an hour away from home (I went to OSU in Stillwater, OK-Go Pokes!), and when I came to visit my parents my curfew was 2am. You have to realize that your son is becoming an indepent person and is capable of making his own decisions and knowing right from wrong. I know you know this about him, but giving him the benfit of the doubt will let him know that you trust him and his decisions. If he knows he trusts you then he won't overstep his boundaries. The more rules you make the more chances of him breaking them. You sound alot like how my parents are (they are wonderful and I miss them so much-they live in Tulsa)! My mother was always up when I got home-I never really disobeyed my parents-they too paid for everything! But you also have to realize that he has been living on his own and is not used to "rules" anymore as he is having to make his own decisions at school. Good luck and God Bless!

Not speaking from experience, but I'd say that if you think he's responsible enough to live away for college, then he's responsible enough for you to sit down and talk about what is acceptable when he is home. He is an example for the other kids in the house, so of course, he shouldn't bring girls home and should be home at a reasonable hour and if he can't then he should call at a decent hour to tell you so.

Just talk to him and remind him of his responsibilities to the the family and him setting an example.

Good luck!

Good rules, keep them he already knows the rules and that is what he thinks it will be.
They have rules at school also, as we do even as adults. Called laws. Am sure that you not only want him safe but also want some sleep. Friends can come over and so forth. Good luck and keep it up.

Hi L., My opinion is that NO the rules should not change..he is coming home to visit and is still in your finacial care.he should respect that.After all he is 18 not 28.After he finishes college ,he can be on his on..1am is late enough for anyone to be out..Actually my 18 yr.old had to be home at 12 also no matter the cause.What will the other two boys think? Good luck and God Bless...

I recently went through the same thing. When my child came home, we sat down and talked about the rules and came up with a new set. She still has the same curfew, which is 12:30 and if she is going to be even a minute late, she has to call or her cell phone will be taken away. As for friends in the house when I am not home, they are allowed but only in the game room. Her younger sibling is a great resource of any wrong doings, which is good and bad. AS you stated, you support him and if he wants that to continue, he is going to have to play by the rules. Remind him that you love him and only want what is best for him - blah, blah, blah - but get your point across!

I feel like he is old enough to make his in choices. He's in college, Just because you pay for everything doesn't make you the ruler over his life anymore. You are his mother and that is what you are suppose to do. If he is doing good in college let the reins go,cause if he knows how to get things done away for home when your not there and all the parties are going on I surely think he can get through a weekend at home. If you set rules he will try to break them. My mom didn't set rule when I came home from school but I just had respect for my mom. He know right form wrong and I'm sure he will show you and you can not compare a 16 and 12 yr old to him. Let me know how it goes.

I am a pastor's daughter and was raised in a pretty strict home (only to put this in the right perspective). Yet, my parents treated me as an adult when I turned 18. I was in college, though I stayed at home. My curfew was always midnight with few exceptions until I turned 18. I still had to be respectful, follow general rules of the house, and honor the fact that they worried about me and wanted to know if I was going to be out very late. But, I had no curfew. It made staying at home so much easier knowing that they considered me an adult. -- I wouldn't allow girls to stay over, or allow drinking, etc. But I would relax the rules a lot if I were you.

The curfew rule is the only thing I would change. He should call if he is going to be later than 1am so you don't worry, but otherwise it's up to him as to what time he comes home. If he was 30 and visiting he would still be expected to pitch in and treat others with respect, but he would not be expected to be home at a particular time (though he would be expected to call if he were going to be very late so you wouldn't worry). That was how my parents approached house rules once I went to college and it worked well for us.

Let me tell you about when my first one went away. He was only a couple of hours away. That first year is a trying one, in that they have all this new freedom. On week-ends that he came home, AND STAYED AT HOME, he was given two extra hours of curfew because there were other children at home of dating age. He most often just came in on Friday, dropped off his dirty clothes for me to wash while he and his buddies went off to other universities to visit friends, then he came back by on Sunday afternoon for a short visit before heading back to school. That's what freshmen do, visit each other and see what it's like on other campuses. All other house rules remained the same. When he was at home, he respected that we worried when he was out so he came home when he was supposed to. He respected us and our wishes just as he did when he lived at home. The same held true during Christmas vacation and during the summer. During the summer he usually worked and went to summer school to pick up extra classes. So really, the added curfew was the only change we made and he turned out OK.

Other than curfew all of the house rules stayed the same for me. There are some rules that should not be changed, especialy if there are younger children in the home. It is your home and you set the rules. Let him know that if he doesn't want to live by the rules then he needs to stay somewhere else (even though you really don't want him too). If he has a hard time with it then just remind him that you pay for all of his expenses. If he doesn't feel like he is being treated like an adult then he needs to act like one and be responsible for his own expenses.

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