Saturday, February 26, 2011

College Age Child

Questioner: sandy


Category: Parenting --Teens
Question: My oldest child is taking a break from college and working - but continues to make poor choices by coming home late and many free hours with her boyfriend. My home has become a "hotel". There is clutter left at the entry door, cups, shoes, messy living room from staying up late watching TV, we don't even talk about the ugly state of her bedroom anymore.

Conversations between us are brief, I go into lecture mode easily even though I have gotten better at NOT doing it, I am so aggravated with her most of the time for her staying out late. I mean, what good things can be happening with her until 3 or 4 in the morning, you know?


I was that age once myself, exercising my freedom and breaking rules, and even though I would not want to project any of my own mistakes onto her, I still strongly feel that there is no legitimate reason for her to be out that late. She then sleeps until noon, 1, 2 or even 3 in the afternoon! With the rest of the household in school/work, she is able to do that.

She does not contribute to the household monetarily or with chores. In fact, my husband continually fusses because she leaves the light on in her sink area when she leaves the house... costing us electricity. We have assisted her with things, such as car tires, insurance, dental appointments... She is 20 and has developed bad habits, most of them were allowed to continue because I am in such confusion about how to handle an 'adult' child!

I told her at summer's beginning, when she was complaining about her siblings being home (and bothering her carefree lifestyle), that she could respect the house rules and get along, or she needed to find her own place.

She looked for a while and discovered (!) that she does not make enough money to move out. Confirmation that she needed us to survive, and so her disagreements became less vocal HOWEVER her coming in so late REALLY bothers me. A LOT! I am frustrated and find myself wanting her out of the house so that I do not have to deal with my emotions regarding this.

Answer: Dear Sandy:

Your college age adult child needs to be treated the way you would any other adult. She is not in school and living at home for free?

What are your teaching her about how to treat you and what to expect from the world. Surely she is expected to pay rent? Utilities? AND if she is a messy roommate then by all means charge her a cleaning fee! Trust me when the money tree stops they start making other choices quickly!

And furthermore, it is your house and your rules. Her coming in late needs to be negotiated. Either she is in by midnight or stays over someplace else. There is no need to disrupt others by her choices.

Give yourself an good laugh and rent the movie "Failure to Launch," if you haven't already seen it. Look to see what these parents are doing to encourage their adult child to "hang on."

Her under earning is her problem and she needs to address it seriously. There is a great book out, "Earn what you deserve," for under earners.

Get a grip on this before you have a houseful of adult children that hang on until your have grandchildren! :)

Best Wishes!

M Kay Keller