They’re Baaack! Enjoying the Summer with your College Student
Relax! College students are often caught between realizing that they are still mostly dependent, but wanting to be fiercely independent. Here is where I would like to encourage you to take this time to get reacquainted with your ever-evolving child. My husband and I had at least one college-aged son for ten summers in a row, so we have a bit of experience with this. My best advice to you is to set up parameters soon after your student gets home. Your child will likely remind you that he/she has been away for nine months and has gotten along very well without your rules. We approached it like this; we know that you want to be treated like an adult, and that is exactly what we’ll do. Treat you like an adult.
In our home, the adults have parameters. For example, we wouldn’t dream of just not coming home one night and not telling the other person where we are. We expect the same of you. If you haven’t decided by midnight where you will be for the remainder of the night, plan to spend it at home. If we have agreed to eat dinner together, and it has been prepared, plan to eat with us. If a “better offer” comes along, please tell them you already have dinner plans. In addition, all of the adults in our home have responsibilities or chores; you will have a few that you’re expected to do.
Reality is that you are allowing your student to come home and live essentially “free” for the summer. They do laundry, eat food, have a roof over their heads, etc. You might even be helping them with rent to allow them to hold onto the place that they live in during the school year. You are likely providing them with health insurance, car insurance, a cell phone, free Wi-Fi – you name it. There is nothing wrong with asking them to follow a few rules in order to have these wonderful things provided for them at little or no cost.
Once you set up the basic boundaries that will make things run smoothly for all of you, you are much better able to enjoy your time with them. Grab an ice cream once in a while together, or take time to watch a movie with your student. Take them shopping for the things they’ll need when they go back in the fall. Go fishing. Most importantly, take time to listen to your child. Many times he/she doesn’t solicit your advice during this stage of life, but simply needs a sounding board. These are precious, fleeting moments that should be savored by all of you, free of conflict.
If you’re like we were, you will be simply amazed to see the young adult that your child is becoming. You will be happy to see that they are taking the skills that you gave them throughout their childhood and using them as they ease into adulthood. You will be wistful in wishing that you could have some of those childhood years back, as they are so fleeting. Your life will be richer through moments spent together in those final years before your child is no longer dependent on you. You are setting the stage for your adult relationship with your student in the future. Embrace it.