Changing Rules for Young Adult and Younger Kids

Updated on May 02, 2016
J.B. asks from Boston, MA
18 answers

A topic came up today that I hadn't really thought about yet. My oldest son is 18 and will be done with classes and exams in May, graduating in June. He will work and go to college locally in the fall, living at home while he earns his first two years of credits towards a degree that he will complete at an out-of-state university later. My younger sons are 10 and 12. Obviously, we have different rules for the older and younger kids in most areas.

The one area where the rules are the same is around video games - we have one gaming system that they share and right now because there is some issue with the TV they used to use for it, the console is hooked up to our main TV. I got sick and tired of monitoring game usage during the week and a few years ago, implemented a rule where I take the controllers on Sunday night and give them back on Friday afternoon. No one plays the PS4 during the week. I relax the rules over vacation but even then, it's not a free for all. This has cut down on a lot of fighting among the kids and between the kids and myself.

My oldest made a comment this weekend that he's psyched that in a month, he can play whenever he wants. I'm I think that while his younger brothers are in school (this year through late June and future years), the rules for this will apply to him as well and that him being able to play games while his brothers can't will just cause issues. Not only that, he's the type of person to totally lord it over them and rub it in. IMO, he has enough ways to amuse himself during down time, including his phone (which the younger boys don't have) and a laptop that he can more or less use freely (the younger boys share a family computer in an open space with time limits and parental controls) and he can very well get in his car and drive wherever he wants and play video games at friends' houses. On the other hand...he's an adult and it does seem silly to micromanage something as small as an adult child's video game time.

Thoughts? For those of you who have had adult children at home with younger siblings, were there any areas where the rules got sticky?

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answers from San Francisco on

I think he should have his own gaming system (which he should be able to pay for himself) and he should spend his free time however he sees fit.
As long as he's working and going to school and being a responsible young man? Yeah, don't treat him like a child.
I'd hate it if someone was monitoring my personal enjoyment/hobbies at the end of the day and telling me how to make "better" use of my free time.
ETA: as far as this causing "issues" with his brothers? No way. He's older, he drives before they do, dates, gets a job, all that stuff, that's life, privileges come with age, and so does responsibility. Period.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Yes, he's an adult. So if he gets a job, uses the $ to buy a TV and a gaming system to put in his room, he can use it as much as he wants.

On the other hand, as long as he's using a shared household item, house rules apply.

8 moms found this helpful

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answers from Portland on

Because the games are played in the living room on a TV shared by everyone, I suggest the rule has to stay the same. I especially suggest this because the rule helps in creating better relationships.

Even tho he's 18, in college, he's still living in your house, using electronics shared by all. When he's living independently, is self sufficient, he can do what he wants. For now he continues to be a part of a household and needs to follow house rules.

Adult privileges come with adult responsibilities. When my 19 yo daughter became pregnant i helped her move into her own apartment.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I don't have the issue of video games (one kid, now an adult) but I think the thing that stands out to me is that your 18 year old, while mature enough to handle more game time and perhaps game topics, is not yet mature enough to keep his mouth shut around his younger brothers. If he's still going to rub it in with the idea of "nyah, nyah, I can play and you can't", he doesn't have the maturity level you require. Yes he's an adult but he can't do any old thing he wants to in your house, even though he's currently psyched about everything changing in a month. Kids at 18 have problems with this - they don't see that they're still living in your house on your dime.

I'd wait for him to bring it up, and tell him you'd consider relaxing the rules if he can manage his behavior. After all, there are all kinds of things he'll be doing and thinking that he doesn't need to share with the younger kids. So I'd put him on a short leash with a trial period, and tell him you'll see how he handles it. The whole point of these rules was to stop the fighting and the arguing, including with you. If he's ready to step up his game, fine. If he's not, you'll go right back to the old rules and consider him in the tween/teen category. It's probably similar to other "rite of passage" - you gave him a laptop and the keys to the car, but I assume you'd take them away the second he abused them. Games can be the same way.

I don't know if you want to emphasize that he can go and do things at other kids' houses. Yes, he can, and maybe they don't have younger siblings, but there's some advantage to keeping him under your roof during this transition period as he gets used to new freedoms. We all know that giving legal rights to kids is progressive (16 for learner's permit, 18 to vote and register for draft, 21 to buy liquor, etc.) but it's usually something like 25 to rent a car or a hotel room because 18-14 year olds are traditionally irresponsible with new freedoms, and the brain isn't fully developed until 25. So let him know he's still in transition.

Good luck! I know you have tons of changes and challenges over recent years and going forward.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

The thing is, he's not following the rules because he's still in high school or because he's under 18. He's following the rules because he lives in YOUR home. If something happened to you and all your kids had to live with grandma or Aunt Edna, they would have to live by grandma's rules or Aunt Edna's rules. People follow the rules of the home they reside in. So until THAT changes, he has to continue to follow the rules. You set these rules for a reason. Life is better with this rule. Keep the rule. Good luck!!

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

This is why it's sometimes a good thing when they move to live on campus once they are going to college.
The bottom line is - as long as he's living under your roof - no matter how old he is - your rules are in force.

That's part of the attraction for moving out on your own - because THEN you can set your own rules (and THEN you don't have the money to do what ever you want - life is funny that way).

I lived at home through college.
My Mom was cool - we both came and went as we needed to - and we left each other notes on the fridge to keep in touch (this was before email, cell phones and texting).
It was understood - I did my chores, laundry, washed dishes, mowed lawn, cleaned the bathroom - just like I did through out high school - and under no circumstances do you wake the wage earner (my Mom taught 6th grade for 30 years) - so no loud music or making noise when she needed to sleep.
Most of the time I was so busy on campus I just came home to sleep.
I didn't feel stifled in any way - but I know a lot of my friends could never manage doing what I did.
They liked the dorms and frat parties and relative freedom that came with being away from home and parents.
You need to sit your older son down and explain to him how things are going to work and how things are NOT going to change like he thinks they will just because he's 18.

Actually, if he's GOT/MAKES so much time to play video games - he's not doing college right.
I'd NOT allow him to get a system to keep in his room and play there away from the rest of the family.
There are adults who are video game addicts - you don't need to let that happen under your roof.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Sure, let him play all the video games he wants at any hour. Oh, just mention that since he'll be making the video game rules for himself, he'll also be paying 1/2 of the electric bill, and the wi-fi bill and the cable bill. And since he's done with high school and is now an adult and makes his own rules, rent and grocery money and car insurance are also required. Don't say it in a defensive tone, simply a matter-of-fact tone.

"Them that pays the bills makes the rules".

Oh, so he's not happy with that? Give him one of those apartment rental booklets that they display in the entrances to grocery stores. Tell him those come with no video game hours or restrictions.

It's not micro-managing. You've already said he has a laptop and phone and car. You are simply maintaining order and boundaries in your own home. Micro-managing would be more like checking the mileage on his car or making him use his laptop at the kitchen table.

Stay strong.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Oh, please JB, still be that good and smart mama that you are. If this young man thinks that just because he finished high school and is a college boy, that he can take over your home, then he's got another thing coming.

If he wants to "play anything he wants", and I'll go farther, come and go as he pleases, do or not do whatever in the house, then he can do that somewhere else that is not your home and he can pay for it too.

He can get a job and go to school at the same time and be on the 5 year plan. Or he can remember that he is one lucky duck and stay on campus during the day, play computer games there if he can, and come home, take out the trash, wash his own clothes, be nice to his brothers, and get himself up and to class the next day without you babying him.

Your TV, your young children used to the rules. Your 18 year old had better remember that this won't change just because he's not having to pay through his nose to go to college. He has to remember that his brothers are just as important as he is and you are too.

Hold fast, mom. He shouldn't TOO comfortable at home.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

Yes - our toughest summer was last year. Our 18 yr old daughter was graduated from high school and headed for college. Our 18 yr old son still had a year of high school left. Yikes! We ended up just playing the "our house, our rules" card. We left no room for argument - ever. Within the end of the 1st 2 weeks, the kids had it figured out and the rest of the summer went pretty smoothly.

I guess if he wants to buy his own gaming system, keep it in his room, and not be a sassy pants and tease his brothers about it, then he can maybe do what he likes. Otherwise, if it is the system YOU own in the home that YOU pay for - well then it should be house rules only.

Remind your son how lucky he is that he can still be at home and enjoy all the creature comforts and still attend college :)

Good luck!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

My birthday is in May, so I turned 18 right around graduation. I can't remember every thinking that the day I turned 18 I no longer had to live by my parents' rules. (Where to people get that idea?)

Obviously he will continue to make more and more of his own decisions, but he will also have more responsibility. His decision to live in your house and go to community college means that he still needs to respect the rules of the house he's living in. The benefit is that he has (much) cheaper tuition and does not need to pay room and board.

The rules about video games were put in place for the benefit of the people in the house, not just to keep everyone from playing video games during the week. If this is important to him, talk to him about ways he can make it happen - save money, but the things he needs and put it in his own room. If he does save the money to buy a tv and a game system, he might decide that those things are really expensive and that there are other things he'd rather do with his hard earned money.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Tyler on

Your house, your rules. When (not if) he throws out the "I'm an adult" card, then it may be time for adult responsibilities. Being an adult doesn't mean unlimited freedom, especially when said adult is living under the same roof as younger siblings.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

One thing he could do is live on campus and make his own rules or buy his own console and TV for his room at your house. I'd tell him that he should be getting some graduation gifts and if he wanted to buy his own set up that he could within limits on the size of the TV and stuff. It has to fit in his room okay.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Beaumont on

I am not in your situation however, your house, your rules. I'd hold tight to the rules especially if giving him more freedom would encourage him to "rub it in". On the other hand, if he wants to buy his own he could play more freely. (If he started acting like a jerk to the younger ones then I'd say no). Seems like a responsible young man and with that comes more freedom.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

The rules are different for adults vs. kids. That's just reality. But if at 18 he is still so immature as to "rub it in," then take it away.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Give him an extra hour on Sundays.

Do not make him want to leave to seek freedom in a 7 guy shared apartment.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

when i was going to the local college, and was working full time there was no time left for sleeping let alone video games. i would keep the rule as it is and not change it. doing so will only help him manage his time better. professers don't hold hands and tell your homework, they give that out at the beginning of the semester and expect it to be done.there are more reports and long papers and speeches and such that will take longer than what homework takes him now.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

Still your house, still your tv, still your xbox, still your rules.
If kid wants to play whenever he wants, let him buy his own tv and games and keep them in his room.


answers from Jacksonville on

Um, yeah.. no. Look, yes, it's still your house and your rules. And yes you are paying the bills. But you really think it is appropriate for a college kid (or even an 18 year old high school kid) to have such strict limits on his video game time? I mean, sure, do what you want. People can make different choices here.

But, this seems to be an issue more aptly aimed at your younger 2, who are of the ages where they *should* need a adult helping them manage their time. Your eldest *should* be at an age where he is or HAS learned to manage his own time well enough, that he can decide for himself if he can spend time of video games (during the week, late at night even...).
Yes, by all means, you are correct it's your home and you make the rules. And he should be grateful that you are providing him continuing room and board. Even with restrictions. But I have to wonder what the goal is here. To be arbitrary and make it easier on you or your younger kids? Or to help your eldest mature and learn to manage for himself? Maybe somewhere in between.

He still has the urge to lord such privilege over his younger siblings. That sounds awfully immature. Until you stop and realize that some siblings just tease each other that way forever in fun. Or that maybe it's because he doesn't HAVE many such distinctions from them. He feels as if he is VIEWED BY YOU as their age as well? could that be part of it?

I have a 17 and a 14 year old at home. They have different rules. When they were little they shared a bedtime. And a bedtime routine. But as kids grow up, their needs and abilities to manage for themselves change.

If it were me, I would allow him additional privileges here. Why not? How hard would it be, really, to tell your younger kids, "Sorry, he's a college boy now, he's earned it." Or, "when you are 18, you can manage your time for yourself as well." I mean it. Really, you are talking about making it easier on you. Not on what is right or fair. It's not so different than, "yes, he can drive the car, because the state issued him a driver's license and they didn't issue one to you. When you are old enough, you can take the test as well..." Or did you not feel your younger kids would understand why the rules changed about that?

He's not 12. He's of the age where he can leave your home and never come back and there is nothing you can do about it. So why not treat him with a little bit of respect that he is a man. *WE* all know that he's an overgrow kid in a man's body, but in his mind, and legally, he IS a MAN. Not a child. I've found with my own son, that treating him like a man gets better results. Treating him like a child gives me a surly, offended, disinterested son.

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