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Teenage Son Wants to Visit Girlfriend at Her College

My 18-year-old son wants to take bus from CT to IN to visit his girlfriend for a few days during his college break. My family and I want to see him here in CT for a week before his girlfriend comes home from break. (He has 4 weeks off; she has 3). Girlfriend wants to buy him bus ticket as a Christmas present. He and she feel I am not letting him be an independent "adult." Should I force him to stay home or let him go to IN?

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Boys will be boys! Forcing him will do you no good. If he is only going for a few days, what's the harm. If he plans to be there for weeks, that is a different story. They want to be together since they have been apart in different schools...... remember what it used to feel to be young ...... just let it be.

Regards, Aida

Just because you want him to come home doesn't mean he has to. He's an adult. He can make his own decisions about where he wants to be. How would you feel if someone forced you to spend time with them just because? You'd probably think it was rude.

The more you push him to stay in CT, the more he'll want to go to IN. I would let him go, it's only for a few days, and if you let him, he feels like you aren't trying to control him. He'll be much more pleasnt when he is home!

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As a mother who has already raised a son, who is now 28, and still lives at home, my advice would be to let him go. Technically, since he's 18, he really doesn't need your permission, but he did have enough respect for you to ask, which is to his credit.

If he's in college, he's certainly responsible enough to make the trip alone, on a bus, and this will give him the opportunity to meet some of her friends, and have some time alone with her, without worrying about fulfilling his family obligations, or hurting anyone's feelings during the Christmas holidays. If he wanted to drive to Indiana, alone, I would have my reservations as well, but on a bus he should be perfectly safe.

As a mother, I know that you might be worried about them sleeping together, and the consequences of that, but believe me, I've been through this, and you'll gain nothing by not treating him as an adult, except to make both of them resent you, and make him less likely to talk to you about the relationship. If they do intend to spend afew nights together, and be intimate with one another, they will find a way to do that, whether its in Indiana or Connecticut, if they haven't already, so keeping him home will just make him less likely to talk to you about it, if he needs to.

At 18, he's old enough to serve his country if he so chooses, so he's certainly old enough to enjoy a few days on his own. If you trust him, I doubt he'll disappoint you. You obviously raised him to be responsible, or he would have simply told you that he was going, not asked for your permission to go.

Also, if you don't allow it, his time on his college breaks may become a power struggle between you and the girlfriend, which could become a real problem someday, if they are really serious, and decide to marry. By letting him go, you are trusting her too, and acknowledging that you know that she is an important part of his life,, just as you are. That will go a long way in earning her respect too.

My feeling is that if you raise them right, and teach them right from wrong, and to act responsibly, without their being forced into it, then what you expect from them is usually what you end up getting.

I know that its hard for you to let him go, and that you will miss seeing him for that one week, but I truly believe that you'll build a stronger relationship between the two of you by trusting him, and letting him go. He's not a boy anymore, but is almost a man, and you'll gain his trust and respect by letting him be one.

Just my opinion.....but I pretty much allowed my son to make his own decisions at that age, and I've never been sorry. Even at 28, he is comfortable enough to come to me to discuss anything that's bothering him, and listens to what I have to say, which, I think, is a rare thing in this day and age.

My advice would be to trust him, and let him go. He's rapidly becoming an adult, and you need to let him be one, and give him some space.

3 moms found this helpful

Hi B.
Since I have twin girls that are also 18 and freshman in college. One is living on campus about 3 hours away and the other is commuting. Since we are still paying the bills, and they are living under my roof, they must abide by my rules.
This is however a tough call. Is she still living at home so he is meeting parents?
When I was 17, I met my husband to be. He traveled to see me about 500 miles often, and we traveled back and forth to see each other. Parents were always there but supportive. We were married at 20, and have been married now for 38 years and have 4 great adult children.
We are thankful our parents didn't put up a big stink as it was hard enough being apart and long distance dating. We didn't have to get past all the harsh words that were said, and the feelings of "your parents don't like me", which I have heard from others, even when they were local.
My boyfriend stayed at the neighbors, not our house, and mom said later she was thankful for friends that would help her in our situation. His parents had a huge farm house and I stayed at their home, with one of his sisters.
I guess I would insist he be home for Christmas and that she be at her home for Christmas and be thankful for the rest of the time you have with one or both of them.
Setting up rigid standards, or rules, sometimes causes them to feel as if they only have each other, therefore cling.
God bless you and give you wise counsel.
K. SAHM married 38 years adult children 37, 32, and twins 18.

1 mom found this helpful

I would let hm go and explain to him although he is going to see the GF he still needs to be with his family for the holidays. It's hard but you have to remember how you felt when you were 18 and "I'n Love". He is your son and he will always remember that. But now is the time he is growing up and needs to make his own choices. Talk to him be firm but let him figure it out.

1 mom found this helpful

He's an adult. He gets to make his own choices now! It's painful, to feel that he's choosing his girlfriend over family. But so normal. I remember that time in my life well, even though it was 15 years ago. I was angry and resentful when my parents guilted me into doing things that I didn't want to do.

He'll be home quite a bit during that 4 week break, right? Explain to him that while he IS home, you really hope to spend a lot of time with him. With and without his girlfriend!

But don't give him a hard time about going. It will only make the time you have together less fun, because he will be frustrated and feel disrespected.

1 mom found this helpful

Just the other side of the fence, as a way of expressing not doubt in you or your son, but where responsibilities lay for you.

You can't 'let' him be an independent adult; he IS one. Except for one area.

I believe in NY you are responsible for your children until they turn 21, unless they or you take steps to emancipate them. I don't know what other states do, or if this is a nationwide thing. My friend had the responsibility for her son until he turned 21, and while he wasn't having girlfriend issues, he WAS having issues with lightfingeredness. Since he was under 21, they were forced to provide him with food/clothing/shelter.

Not knowing what your son is like, and/or how he's changed, I can offer this: Talk to him, express YOUR wishes (you ARE the parent, and YOU have more experience than he does right now) and your thoughts, as well as what you see from his side. Find out where he is with this relationship (and since you have an issue with him going away on his own to stay with a girl - on his own - I am guessing there is a gray area in your understanding of how your son has changed.

Worst case scenario - they wind up 3 instead of two, and you will have an interesting time on your hands should he want to move back in.

Best case scenario - he's found the love of his life at 18 (totally possible) and he wants to spend time with her because it is impossible to do so during the rest of the school year.

And - it is YOUR house he will be coming home to after all this. What are your house rules? Should he want to bend them when he is out of your home?

Just some thoughts that I didn't see expressed, but I didn't get to read to the very bottom, DS is wanting dinner.

Good Luck!

Just because you want him to come home doesn't mean he has to. He's an adult. He can make his own decisions about where he wants to be. How would you feel if someone forced you to spend time with them just because? You'd probably think it was rude.

Hi B.,

I know you received the message of "let him go", and agree with the other mothers. You said your son has changed since she came along, and you may feel like you are losing a part of him, and you are, but you are gaining a young man, who is in college which is a plus for an 18 y/o these days. He sounds like a really good kid. Change with him, but always keep him close without him knowing.

All the best to you.

The more you push him to stay in CT, the more he'll want to go to IN. I would let him go, it's only for a few days, and if you let him, he feels like you aren't trying to control him. He'll be much more pleasnt when he is home!

If you "make" him stay in CT, he will not only resent you but it will romanticize his relationship with the GF. However, have an adult chat with him. Tell him you want to treat him like an adult, and adults talk things over and think scenerios through before acting on impulse. Will she have finals that last week she is on campus? If so, tell him you completely understand they don't want to be apart any longer than they have to but ask him how he would feel if she tanked her finals because she was busy entertaining him, or if she tells him she needs a few hours alone to study how will he feel. If she doesn't have finals, what will he do with his time while she is in class? How would he feel if she decided to skip classs to hang out with him? Discuss the practical realities of the trip without judgements, just as "food for thought" to allow him to make the best decision. He might still decide to go, but if any of these real world things come up, maybe he'll remember that you talked about it and have more adult reactions while he is there.

Absolutely do NOT force the issue, if you make this an issue of exerting control over him you may win this one battle but you will for certain loose the war. Instead, talk it out with him and express vulnerable and true feelings (I really miss you and just want to be sure we can spend quality time together, making memories, etc.). Ask him to help you resolve your dilemma of wanting this time with him but not wanting to force him to do anything. Reach a resonable negotiation. Even if it ends up being (i.e.) the same 3 days versus 7 that you want, I promise you that they will be much happier quality days/time then if you force the issue and he's home for all 7. Best wishes! N.

Yes, of course you should! Try and remember what it was like when you were 18, in love etc, plus he is at college, he is an independent young man now, it is hard to 'let go' but he'll come back to you more if you give him his freedom.

I went to school in IN - and did the bus trip. It was a horrendous over 27 hr bus trip. Doesn't she have exams to finish up that last week?

Maybe you can tell him it would not be fair for her to think she has to spend time with him - that it would be "big" of him to decline so she can focus on her exams.

I took a Greyhound from NY to VA the summer i turned 18 to see my boyfriend who was stationed there. It was a wonderful experience and I would do it again. I think you should let him go- and the bus ticket is a wonderful idea for a gift. It will show him not only that you trust him, but that you support his decisions and approve of his girlfriend, all which will strengthen your relationship. Good luck and Merry Christmas!

Hi B.,

Your son is an adult now, and should be encouraged to make his own decissions. If he is determined to go, let him go with your blessings. However, I believe you should sit down and discuss your concerns and tell him why you don't want him to go. This won't change his mind, but at least he'll understand your point of view.

If you "force" him to stay home, it'll only make both of your lives difficult. He'll be mad at you, and make the week miserable for both of you.

Dear B.,
Your son is an adult now and he can and should be making his own decisions.Realistically you can not "force" him to do anything. If you pick this fight and your son does stay home, he is going to have a miserable week... enjoy the time you have with him, don't make it miserable for the both of you.
FYI: I was 17 when I went 1000 miles away from home and my boyfriend to college. My mother realized how difficult it was for us to make our long distance relationship work and did not begrudge us anytime we could spend together. After 1 semester my boyfriend and I decided to transfer to the same school so that we could be together, both of our parents respected our rights as adults, even if they questioned our judgment. ( we would have moved even if the forbid it though :) Its now 8 years later, and we have gotten married, finished college bought a house and are raising our first daughter. Sometime we don't give Young adults enough credit. Let them live their lives and learn from their own mistakes and they will be better off in the long run. You can't baby them forever.

I take it he is going away to college. I wouldnt force him to stay home, but tell him you miss him and want to spend time with him before the GF comes home. It has nothing to do with is being an adult (which he isnt btw) but rather that you miss him. If he insists on going there isnt much you can do about it without causing hard feelings over the holidays. You have to face the fact that he is getting older and more independent. Tell him what you would rather he does and then let him decide. pssst he will probably go visit the GF. At his age he isnt thinking with his head.

I agree that you need to make sure there would be no issues with him staying there with the school or her roommates. It's great to invite both him and her to spend time with you around the holidays. I can imagine as a mother this is hard, whether this girl is good for him or not, but you did say that this trip was just for a few days. Your son may have changed alot not just because of a girlfriend, but also he is learning to find his own way in this world.
I can tell you that I appreciate the independence and trust my mother gave me at that age. When I was 19 I flew to FL to find my boyfriend who left a note that he was "running away" because he was depressed. I remember my older sisters being so angry she let me go. I know now that my going was a mistake, but it was one I needed to learn and I am so grateful that she allowed me that. That she had enough trust in me to know I would stay safe and let me go (BTW - it was my own $$) brought her and I much closer in what could have been a difficult time for mother and dtr.
I hope this helps, good luck!

Hi B.,

I think you should let him go. I remember when I was a teenager and you believe it's love, some of the time it is and other times it's infatuation. You should let him go see her being young and in love is hard enough without outside inteference. I know he's your oldest, but when they are that age family is seen as always being there. Just suggest to him that he protect himself and that you will see him when he comes home. It's hard not to treat them like kids when that is what they are in our eyes. Just tell him that this year he can do this, but next year it's family first then a love interest.

Good luck and try to enjoy the holidays no matter what you decide. ;-)


You should let him go. Look at it this way: when school is in session, for all intents and purposes, he is an adult, and he can spend the night in his girlfriend's dorm room whenever he wants to. I'm sure he has done a lot of things that you would not approve of while he has been in school- we all did in college. But at a certain point, you have to let them go and trust that you did a good job. Sure, you can give your opinion, but once they have left the house, you can't expect them to act like a child once they come back for a break. This is nothing dangerous and you have to show him that you trust him, or else he will not be able to trust himself to make good decisions. It's not a big deal if he is gone for a few days. Make a deal with him that he has to spend a certain number of days with your family, and then he can spend some time with her. Have him call you as soon as he arrives and check in every few days.

If is 18 can you really force him to do anything. Time let him make some adult choices.

I'm not at that spot yet... but I think it's important to talk to him.. Tell him your fears. Make sure he knows about birth control... alchohol... and anything else. I remember me - with my first boyfriend.. I lied to go away.. said I was going with the girls... At least he is being upfront with you.. that's a plus. It's hard when they grow up. Talk to him.. tell him your fears.. and tell him you trust him to act the right way and do the right stuff - and then pray... good luck with whatever you decide... P.S. ask him what her parents have to say about it?? Make sure that they know he is going to visit.. because if they don't they might just call you when and if they find out. Tell him you want her to let them know too.. because you don't want trouble later on...

You should let him go. He already is on his own at school, making all his own decisions every day. Whether they are the same decisions that you would make or right choices, it is his time to learn from mistakes and flourish from his sucesses. I would just make a contact with the girls parents (if you haven't already) to let them know you are around if any problems do arise and let them know how to reach you. It'll be an expereience your son won't forget and he'll see it as a vote of confidence from you. They'll be plenty of other Christmases when he'll be home!

I know it's hard, but you need to let him go. After all, he is an adult now. Tell him you would like him to spend the first week with family since he'll still have 3 weeks with her, but let him make his own decision. Just try to gently tell him that you have missed him, and his family would like to spend some time with him before you have to share him. :)

He is 18. Whether or not you feel he is mature or not, he is an adult. If you are paying his expenses you can try to use that as leverage. I would suggest otherwise. My brother and my mother had a strained relationship for years when she tried to control his life while he was in college.
I am a mother with a son who will be starting college in a few years. I do understand that you want the best for your son. Unfortunately, we have to let go and let them make their own decisions at some point.
Good Luck and Happy Holidays,
S. K

Boys will be boys! Forcing him will do you no good. If he is only going for a few days, what's the harm. If he plans to be there for weeks, that is a different story. They want to be together since they have been apart in different schools...... remember what it used to feel to be young ...... just let it be.

Regards, Aida

Having worked in student affairs for many years, the visitation issue comes up a lot - especially at break times. I understand where your son is coming from and where you are coming from BUT, if the girlfriend lives in college housing I would suggest finding out what her college has for a visitation policy. Not all schools allow opposite sex visitors so he may not even be allowed by policy to stay in the girlfriend's room or even residence hall. Also, many colleges/universities have limitations on how long a visitor can stay - especially during finals week and the beginning of the semesters. If the girlfriend has a roommate already, putting a third person of the opposite sex in a two person room for a week can be problematic. To find out more about the visitation policy, I would suggest you/your son look on line or give her residence life/housing department a call. Residence Hall living has changed a great deal in the last 10 years - its not like it was back in the 70s or 80s.

its ok, but studies is the most priority

Ahh let him go. No harm no foul. Just tell him to bring protection unless he wants to be a young daddy. I was that age going from Niagara Falls to Rochester to visit my (now) husband. Maybe there is a way to arrange it so everyone can see your son?

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