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College Kids Living at Home? Pointers for Peace

written by: RobinRaven•edited by: Donna Cosmato•updated: 6/29/2010

Many parents are relieved to have college kids living at home. Not only can parents save on dorm expenses, but they enjoy savoring the last few years they may experience having their child living under their same roof. Here are some tips for keeping the peace if you are so lucky.

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    Adjusting Rules for Students

    If your child opts to live at home while in college, you are doing something very right. He is obviously happy with his home life. College is a time when students find ways to live at home, even when he is limited on funds, thanks to financial aid, student loans, and the availability of loans and credit to young students. Even if you cite financial benefits as the main reason for college kids living at home, it is a great sign.

    To keep the peace in your family as the student experiences college, keep in mind you will need to change the house rules. A college student needs and deserves more freedom than a high school student. As such, if there is a curfew, expand it. Depending on the maturity of the student, you may wish to lift it altogether, provided he lets you know where he is if he stays out late.

    Do you have a no-drinking policy? Consider how that will change when the student becomes of age. If there is a rule for no overnight guests and your college-aged student is in a serious relationship, you need to discuss openly how to handle that situation when he is in college. Adjusting or negotiating the rules may be negotiable, but be clear where you need to set limits.

    Also, keep in mind; there are certain responsibilities that you, as a parent, have to take. Because your child is a college student, you may think it is okay for him to party and drink. However, if you supply him with access to alcohol before he is 21, you could be criminally and ethically liable, especially if he spreads it around to friends or if someone drinks while driving. Keep in mind, even though your college student is getting to be more of an adult that you can develop a close relationship with, you still must keep parental boundaries and clear authority when it comes to setting limits and rules.

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    Communicating with Your College Student

    While a college freshman is on his way out of the teenage years, he is still a teen, and relationships can be strained between parents and teens. It is so common that it has become almost a cliche.

    Be proactive about mending fences in the relationship between you and your college student. Have an open conversation before the school year starts. Ask him what his expectations are while living at home as a student. Hear what he wants to see changed in the home as he adapts to college. Really listen to his needs and desires. Let him know you are honestly considering what he has to say, before you respond or deny his wishes. While you do not have to give in to everything he wants, you want to hear him out. If you do not understand why he wants a certain rule to change, ask him why. The answer may surprise you.

    Speak to your college student as a mature adult, if you want her to act that way. If you act respectful, you are likely to get respect in return. A student who feels appreciated for the efforts she makes will not be quick to disappoint.

    Let your student know your own expectations, hopes, and desires for the living arrangement. If you want them to do household chores, tell them up front, instead of getting angry and resentful because they do not notice the dirty dishes or fail to pitch in. Classes and college social life are very distracting. If your student does not know what is expected of him, there is no way for him to meet your expectations.

    If there is something your child does that really bothers you, make sure to address it. Ask your student to do the same. Open communication is the best way for parent-child relationships thrive, especially with college kids living at home.

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    Overall Pointers for Peace when a College Student Lives at Home

    Keep in mind that the relationship between you and your child far transcend the four years of college that he experiences. Do not sweat the small stuff, and try to enjoy the time you do have with your college student. While it is harder to reduce the amount of parenting you do when your college student is still living at home, keep in mind a college student is going to need more space than before. Let him make his own mistakes. If you are constantly calling your teen out on small mistakes or potential mistakes, he will not learn the lessons he needs. Express your love and grant a more freedom as your child continues to mature in college.