The books have been closed, the kegs have gone dry, and the semester has come to an end. Maybe you have even donned a cap and gown to receive your diploma. So when the semester ends or you graduate — then what? Are you heading back home to live with your parents? Bet you’re wondering how you will survive “the rents” after having a taste of freedom. How do you adjust to a new life? When you return home from college, do your parents’ old rules still apply?
Returning to the nest can ruffle everyone’s feathers. Your parents have gotten used to you being away, but when you return, they may still see you as a child. You are contending with curfews, sharing space, and your parents’ watchful eyes. Let’s face it, the old way of doing things is not going to cut it — but your parents may have a hard time seeing it that way.
It’s especially hard for them when it comes to seeing you as an adult in terms of your sexuality and relationships. Chances are that you have become sexually active while at college or at the very least sexually experimental. Trust me, not only don’t your parents want to think about this; they are most likely having a really tough time accepting it.
Your parents are mourning the loss of you as a little girl or boy. You are not just theirs anymore but also somebody else’s potential boyfriend or girlfriend (and ultimately, spouse!). They want everything to be the way it was. Now that you are becoming an adult, they are faced with getting older and transitioning to a new phase in their lives. Perhaps college has opened your eyes to social, political, and religious views that differ from theirs, and they may view this as a rejection of their values and their parenting. You have the right to your own adult opinions and beliefs, and if you can address and explain them in an adult manner, the more likely they will hear what you have to say not as a rejection but as growth.
Still, while you’ve enjoyed your freedom, you need to respect their boundaries (as long as they are age appropriate). If they rebound into the overly protective, bossy roles that they played before, it’s okay to discuss this rationally with them. Don’t engage in a power struggle or immediately rebel, if they see how you can calmly discuss the issues with them, chances are they will respect you as an adult.
If they try to impose a curfew, which may seem crazy after the all-nighters and not having to answer to anyone, try to make an agreement that gives them a little comfort — such as agreeing to call if you will be out past midnight. This way, they are not waiting up all night, but you don’t have to check in every moment. This isn’t high school anymore, but you are still under their roof and they have expectations and concerns.
All in all, remember that if you want to be treated like an adult, then act like one! Pick up after yourself and try not to be overly disruptive. Respect your parents’ privacy, and they will respect yours. I know it’s tough to imagine, but they may have enjoyed the freedom of not having anyone in the house. Life after college is an adjustment for everyone, and patience and respect will go a long way.