For the older generations, graduating from high school was the first step into the real world. You went to college, moved out of your parent’s home and started making a life for yourself. Millennials, on the other hand, are spending more time at home with their parents. While it might help to postpone your own empty nest syndrome, it does make parenting more challenging once your kids have hit 18 and are technically adults in their own right. To help you keep your sanity until you’re adorable young adults move out on their own, here are the top 10 things you should know about raising college kids.
10. They Aren’t Kids Anymore
They may be sleeping in the same room that they grew up in, and they may always be your little ones, but they aren’t little kids anymore. They deserve to be treated like an adult, and at the same time it should be something that they earn from you. Treating them like a kid, even if you’re paying their rent and tuition, is a fast track to making them resent you. Going to college is supposed to be a rite of passage. Staying at home is the best way to save money on the already exorbitant cost of college, but they’ll be hunting for a dorm next semester if you’re insisting on bedtimes and broccoli.
9. Set Boundaries, But Be Flexible
Rules and boundaries are essential for a functioning household, whether you’re 18 or 80, but if you’re in that fresh out of high school age bracket, boundaries can feel like shackles. If you’ve got young adults living at home, it’s important to set boundaries. What those boundaries are is entirely up to you. It could include curfews, money spent on sundries, or anything else that might need a rule applied to it. Just make sure you’re flexible about those boundaries. A 12pm curfew means nothing to a college student who’s working a part-time night shift.
8. Pay Attention To Mental Health
Mental health isn’t something to play with no matter what your age is, but for college students it can be especially important. When it comes to young adults, between the ages of 18 and 29, their brains are still developing. Yes, no matter what stupid decisions they make that brain is still growing and changing. Those changes at this age are also why mental illnesses can begin to present themselves. Just set up an open door policy with your kids starting from an early age. Let them know that they can come talk to you about anything, anytime.
7. Stay in Touch, Even At Home
They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but just because your kids aren’t absent doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t stay in touch. If you haven’t learned how to text yet (how?) then I suggest you learn. It’s the best way to keep in touch with those crazy young kids. It lets you keep your kids apprised of the activities in the home, and keep you up to date on what is going on in their lives as well.
6. No More Helicopter Mom
Stop hovering! You might have been a world-class helicopter mom while your kids were growing up but once they’re in college, it’s time to land the helicopter and let them learn to fly on their own. It’s tempting to want to hold your kids back or clip their wings so they don’t make the same mistakes that you did at their age, but they won’t learn anything if you don’t let them make those mistakes.
5. Stay in School or Pay Rent
Just because they’re staying at home doesn’t mean that they should be exempt from the rules. There’s no reason to charge rent if your young adults are staying in school, but if they’re just staying at home and haven’t taken any steps toward their future, then it might be time to lay out an ultimatum. Stay in school, pay rent, or move out. Sometimes it’s all the encouragement they need.
4. Be Encouraging or Butt Kicking, As Needed
Speaking of encouragement, you know that as a parent sometimes your kids need some gentle encouragement and sometimes they need a swift kick in the pants to get them moving. Be prepared to do both for your at home college kids. Sometimes all they need is a kind word from mom or dad to get them moving.
3. Jobs Aren’t the Devil
College is a job in and of itself, especially for full time students, but there’s nothing wrong with picking up a part time job on the side for spending money. Don’t discourage your kids from getting a job, as long as it’s not going to interfere with their college. If they’ve decided to take a semester break before starting school or not to go to college at all, then getting a job is probably the best thing that you could encourage your kids to do.
2. Don’t Shirk the Chores List
They’re in college, but if they’re still living at home and part of your household. Don’t let them get away without keeping up with their part of the chores. It’s not too much to ask for your now adult children to take out the garbage or do the dishes a couple times a week. It’s not going to interfere with their classes, and doing chores at home is a great way to teach them all the skills that they’ll need to keep their own household once they finally move out.
1. Enjoy Every Minute of It
Last but not least, make sure you enjoy every minute that you get to spend with your adult children before they leave home. It’s a unique opportunity to get to know your child as an adult, after the years of changing diapers and bandaging skinned knees. It’s an opportunity that you’ll never get to have again so make sure that you treasure every single minute, no matter how crazy they might make you.
If you’re paying college tuition, then having your kids stay at home is a great way to keep that tuition bill from totally breaking the bank. Enjoy having your kids at home for a few more years before they finally spread their wings and fly.
Jennifer Landis is a 27-year-old healthy living blogger who loves yoga, running, and dancing it out with her toddler! You can find more from Jennifer at her blog, Mindfulness Mama, or by following her on Twitter: @jenniferelandis.