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18yo returning home after semester away

WhatToDoWithThemWhatToDoWithThem Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
edited January 2013 in Parents Forum
My 18yo lived on campus at a local university in the Fall, and did not do well without the guidance and supervision we gave him in high school. He has returned home, and will now commute to classes. While I recognize his disappointment in himself, and his irritation at living at home after experiencing freedom, we need to have some kind of agreement about his residing here. He has already created havoc in our home, just by being the unorganized, lots-of-large-projects, impulsive guy that he is. His younger siblings are annoyed that he is back - and frankly, so am I - but that's what we have to work with right now.

I want to have some kind of contract or agreement about what is expected of him to live in our house. Do any of you have experience with this? He is not in the same category as the younger ones, nor is he as much of an adult as he seems to think he is, regarding following the rules of the house. It is over an hour each way to commute on mass transit, and he argues that he needs a car in order to have enough time to study. He also can't study at home, so will be on campus most waking hours. I think having to commute is part of living with the consequences of having to leave his housing, and I don't want to let him use a car. (Not to mention that he is a careless driver.) But 3 hours a day on bus/train???

And with that kind of schedule, how much should we expect from him for helping out around here? He will do his own laundry, but he creates more mess than he cleans up in every room he goes into. (Yes, I should have trained him better long ago, and now I have to live with it.)

I am not sure what is fair and normal for a "housing contract." Any suggestions?
Post edited by WhatToDoWithThem on
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Replies to: 18yo returning home after semester away

  • marybee333marybee333 Registered User Posts: 766 Member
    Why does he have to come back home? And is being back home going to make him a better student? Just curious, because you did not actually say why exactly, he was returning home. I would send him packing back to the dorm, if it was going to cause that much stress on myself and the rest of the family, unless he cannot return.
  • allyphoeallyphoe Registered User Posts: 2,339 Senior Member
    I agree - if he can't do his studying at home, where does the guidance and supervision part come in?

    IMHO, 3 hours a day on the bus / train, particularly if he can read / listen to lecture tapes / make some good use of that time, is a better deal than an hour a day of a careless driver driving.
  • flyaroundflyaround Registered User Posts: 434 Member
    Agree. I would not want him home, the quality of my life and the lives of the other people living in the house is just as important. Can't there be consequences and greater structure while he lives I the dorms?
    It is unreasonable to expect much in the way household chores with a 3 hour commute and a full course load.
  • MirabileDictuMirabileDictu Registered User Posts: 243 Junior Member
    I don't think it makes sense to place too many conditions on his staying at home, given that he feels that coming home is a punishment. Not so sure why he would want to comply in order to keep the "privilege" of staying at home. Additionally, you don't want to threaten consequences that you cannot really follow through on. If he causes chaos at home and you will not allow him to stay in the dorms, what would your next step be?

    Assuming that he wants to move back to campus, I would set conditions on his performance this semester that will allow him to earn his way back. What are some concrete markers that he can reach? Improved grades, of course, but also possibly some behavioral objectives at home.

    p.s. Does he have a diagnosis? If not, you may want to have him evaluated. Once he has a diagnosis his school (and you) will be able to provide appropriate support.
  • happymomof1happymomof1 Registered User Posts: 29,457 Senior Member
    Lots of kids in my area commute to college. Certain bus routes are full of them at different times of the day, and they study, listen to music, take naps, etc. Public transit is much better than driving.

    It might help if you can ask him what he thinks he needs to do around the house. What responsibilities did he ostensibly have on campus? Just laundry and keeping his room relatively neat? Or was he also responsible for a shared bathroom?
  • jonrijonri Registered User Posts: 7,389 Senior Member
    The OP has posted about the situation. It sounds as if she had very valid reasons for forcing her S to live at home.

    I live in NYC. It's pretty common for high school students here to spend 3 or more hours commuting via mass transit. It is also common for kids who attend CUNY or the community colleges. So, it certainly can be done. I wouldn't give a kid who has his history a car.

    You might look into some other place to study, though. Is there a public library with quiet space near your home? Or along his route? Or are there hours, e.g., while his younger siblings are at school, when it would be possible for him to study at home?
  • 2016BarnardMom2016BarnardMom Registered User Posts: 1,852 Senior Member
    I would focus the contract on things like attending classes regularly. As far as the commute, does anybody in the household drive to work? Perhaps he could be dropped off on campus and picked up if it would take less time than the commute. If he says he's going to be on campus studying a lot, then he could use those hours between classes to do his studying.

    If he is really on campus most waking hours to study, then maybe he won't be home long enough to make too much of a mess. I don't think it is unrealistic to expect basic self maintenance- not leaving personal belongings in a common area.
  • oldfortoldfort Registered User Posts: 23,011 Senior Member
    It is certainly doable to commute one hour each way. The time won't be completely wasted if he could do some reading on bus/train. Why can't he study at home? He did it when he was in high school, right? If he is going to have to do all of his study at school, then what kind of guidance and supervision are you going to give him? I could see him sleeping over at friend's dorm more often than not and it would defeat the purpose of him living at home.

    I would have him take care of his own dishes, laundry, and one chore around the house. More importantly, to set a target for his grades for him to return to campus housing. I would also set up some house rules about when/how he is to come and go without disrupting other people and if he is allowed to have people at home (if yes, then when). He is an adult now, but he is also living with you and he needs to be respectful of your needs. This is all better discussed upfront rather than having a discussion (fight) whenever there is an incidence.
  • jreeder64jreeder64 Registered User Posts: 32 Junior Member
    You obviously have a tough situation.

    I would first make sure the contract is one that you can live with. What would you do if he continue to be disruptive? What could you take away as a punishment besides paying for school? I think a contract might be a good idea, just not sure how you would enforce it.

    From reading your other posts, you have another son with BPD and he needs attention and possibly a special school. You also mentioned spending a lot of money for college as well as a Pell Grant which probably means that funds are now limited.

    Given this, I don't think driving is a good idea - I would guess that driving is more expensive with the gas, maintenance and parking. The commute isn't impossible and he will have time to read and study while commuting. It will also minimize the disruptions for the others in the house.

    I would require him to grant you access to his grades. I forget how the process works but I believe once a student is 18, parents don't automatically get access to grades. Given that he stopped going to class last semester and skipped finals then you need to be able to track his progress.

    While you want to support him, you can only do so much. He needs to be accountable and have skin in the game.
  • MadaboutxMadaboutx Registered User Posts: 1,592 Senior Member
    Freedom isnt free. Lol.

    I know a lot of kids that messed up that way nd my S struggled but we were on top of it early because we have access to his online account with the college. The problem with the college system is they cater to the student/ consumer and not the payer/ customer/parents. We told him if he didn't turn things around in the class he was struggling in, he will move back home. That advanced warning got him motivated.
  • AeroMikeAeroMike Registered User Posts: 281 Junior Member
    It sounds like you've made a lot of decisions for him in life, especially given your comment about supervision and guidance in high school. What makes you think he's so incapable? Young people are going to make mistakes, but you have to let them so that they can learn from those mistakes. You also sound like you have some major favoritism towards the younger kids. If I was as unappreciated as the son you're now requiring to stay at home, I'd act out too...

    Just leave him in campus housing. If you've instilled decent character and values in him, he'll shape up. If he hasn't learned how to act responsibly, you can't do it for him. He's an adult now, and he should be free to succeed or fail on his own.

    Not to mention if he's as bad as you make him out to be, he'll only drag down the rest of the family.
  • blossomblossom Registered User Posts: 9,598 Senior Member
    OP- I think you need to figure out (with your son) what your near and long term objectives are.

    If the focus is on getting him a BA in four years- that's one long term goal, which suggests several short term goals along the way. If it's something else (getting a BA at the lowest cost, or graduating eventually with a degree in X, or whatnot-- all laudable goals) then your short term goals need to shift.

    If the purpose of having him move home is to make it easier on him to study and get good grades, then adding household chores (apart from him taking care of his own needs) are probably not going to help him. If the purpose is to have you better able to monitor his study time-- then setting up a quiet and distraction zone space for him at home seems to me a better solution than having him hang out on campus after his classes end for the day. But that means distraction free- no dog walking, no throwing in a load of laundry for you just because he's home.

    I agree that having a sloppy kid move back home is annoying and disrupting for everyone- so I think a candid conversation with him is in order. You've all got to be on the same page for this to work. Is he coming home to resume family life, to give him quiet and structure for studying, to save money on a dorm but allow him to maintain his college social life, or whatnot?

    I know dozens of kids who commute- train, subway, bus, etc, and some of them use the time very productively to study. Others nap. Others socialize with friends who are doing the same routine. All are fine uses of the time- as long as it's built into the day.

    But get everyone on the same page before you drive each other insane.
  • ClassicRockerDadClassicRockerDad Registered User Posts: 6,365 Senior Member
    It sounds like your son is in a no-win situation. I read your other post. He obviously has emotional issues, he's probably ashamed of what happened. He's probably stressed beyond belief.

    He feels homeless, and is a candidate to become homeless or worse, suicidal. Because he's forced to live in YOUR home under YOUR rules and everybody is annoyed with him being there, he has no refuge.

    He "can't" study at home? Why is he taking a full load? The commuting sounds very hard. Is there no place closer?

    I think a loving understanding approach would be the best. He is an adult but he needs to know that you have his back, which it doesn't sound like you do. You can't punish or discipline an adult. It's counterproductive. You don't have to put up with him making a mess or making your household unpleasant, but you need to have an adult conversation about his situation and offer to pay for the therapy. I think therapy is money better spent than college. I think that it would be best if he quit college for now and looked for a job, any job - grocery, gas station, fast food, etc. He needs to know that you would love him regardless. College, if it's to be part of his future, can wait until he's in a right mind, and that if he is to return, he needs to do what's necessary emotionally and to find self-motivation to get there. He can't be continually made to experience your disappointment. This is a bad scene.

    We let our children drive as soon as they got their licenses. You become a better driver by driving alone. I don't know your means, but your adult child needs your love and understanding.
  • SteveMASteveMA Registered User Posts: 6,079 Senior Member
    I think the issues lie with you and your spouse WhatToDoWithThem. I think perhaps counseling for YOU is in order. You won't let your son live on campus, you don't like him in "your" home. You won't let him live on campus and study in his dorm but you also won't let him study at home so he has to stay on campus to study and drive back and forth to sleep?? How about showing some compassion and understanding. How would you feel if your "family" hated you? How bad is it really? What is his GPA? What is his major? I just can't imaging trying to live under the iron hand you portray and doing well at ANYTHING. Does he do ANYTHING right in your eyes? Poor kid.
  • Erin's DadErin's Dad Super Moderator Posts: 36,453 Super Moderator
    SteveMA, perhaps you should look at the other posts by the OP before piling on.
This discussion has been closed.