The summer before college. Parents' Survival Guide.

<p>Well, I confess that title was a little misleading, since this is actually an appeal for survival tips and not a collection of them. How is the post HS graduation summer going for the rest of the moms and dads of soon-to-be college freshmen? And how are you surviving it?
Our latest tug of war is about curfew. But the day to day from S can range tremendously, from offers to pick up little sister at camp to "I hate this family". This last, at moments when I'm feeling awfully sentimental about his going far away to school, is esp hard to take. Anyway, feel free to add your own "last summer before college" anecdotes or gripes or nuggets of wisdom or guerrilla tactics. Funny stories esp appreciated.</p>

<p>This subject is common this time of year. I'm thinking a search for "couch".</p>

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<p>or "fouling the nest"</p>

And how are you surviving it?


<p>Not very well mainly because of this:</p>

Our latest tug of war is about curfew.


<p>I'm trying not to make too big of fuss about the curfew issue because I don't want to spend our last weeks together constantly fighting but we do have to set and enforce some boundaries and he is pushing it every chance he gets. </p>

<p>I will miss son greatly but at this point I think we will all breathe a sigh of relief as we drop him off at college. He is ready...we are ready...I'm trying to savor every moment but he makes it darn hard at times and yes, we're getting the 'I hate this family' bit also. </p>

<p>I think this time period is one of great separation anxiety for all concerned. It's hard on the kids who are about to leave the only people they have ever lived with and it's hard on the parents who know in a few short weeks, you will no longer know your child's whereabouts and comings and goings on any given day. As a wise friend counseled me today "This too shall pass."</p>

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<p>Oh, we had quite a bit of "fouling the nest" at my house. By the time we hauled all her suitcases and boxes up to her room on the second floor of her dorm in the August heat, we parents were quite ready to move on down the road.</p>

<p>We (H, me, D) each took two suitcases and a carry-on for the flight to college. One of the checked bags was D's hard guitar case. In the airport at Denver, items of that size go in the revolving ski rack. So guess what, we left the airport without the guitar and were half an hour up the highway before D noticed. My D was in favor of just leaving the guitar at the airport, but thrifty H was not having that. We returned to the airport, picked up the guitar, and proceeded on the rest of the drive to the college.</p>

<p>And yes, this too shall pass. Now D is in grad school, and she drove herself to that college a year ago. Didn't want any help...and didn't forget her guitar.</p>

<p>Ugh, this is my second time around. I'm convinced that the kids "do this" to you so that you drop them at the dorm and screech the tires blasting as quickly as possible away from the college. 30 days and number 2 will be out the door (yes I'm counting the days). I've got good boys and I love them, but I'm so very happy to take them to college. Do know they come home at Christmas generally happier, more pleasant etc. etc. etc.</p>

<p>I am really so bi-polar when it comes to day I can't wait for that little $h&t to move out of my house, and others I cry because I know he's gonna. Sometimes it's BOTH in one day...</p>

<p>I have a friend with a son who she couldn't wait to get rid of last summer (his frosh year) and now he has come home a new person...polite, considerate, appreciative. She can't believe it. Must take some time away to learn that all the stuff "the family you hate" did for you was missed, and that the same $20 they slid you last summer that seemed so lame and measly, is now really appreciated becuz you now know what it's like to be broke.</p>

<p>I hold on to this hope like a religious medallion...give me strength!</p>

<p>momofthreeboys - you made my day! I was seriously considering doing a count-down calendar (at work, so son couldn't see it :) ).</p>

<p>I've been hoping someone would say they come back more pleasant and happier. Right now, I'm tremendously burned out on the whole parenting thing. It's very hard - they're about to leave home, they're adults but they don't always act like adults, so then you feel like you need to lecture, which irritates them further. I'm trying to back off as much as possible but son keeps pushing the envelope. I think he's trying to push our buttons to get a reaction out of us so he can say "I can't wait to get out of here!' It's working. Husband and I have vowed to try not to lose our cool right now. It's not easy.</p>

<p>I'm thinking I might try to persuade my husband to join me in a long weekend trip somewhere relaxing after son leaves. I could sure use the down time ( and lots of alcohol.)</p>

<p>It is an amazing thing when they come home at Christmas and are grateful, pick up after themselves, run a load of laundry and are generally quite pleasant to have around. My 21 year old college senior son has even outgrown the vampire hours (up all night, sleep all day). He was home for a couple weeks this summer and he actually showed up generally by midnight much to our shock and awe. I pointed this out to him and he says "Mom I have to get up at 6 AM every day either because I have a class or I have to go to work, I need a good night sleep and I don't want to break my routine." What??? Who stole my vampire child and delivered a quasi-adult?</p>

<p>^Still waiting for THAT part...</p>

<p>I was hoping this subject would come up. We're 4 1/2 weeks into our summer and D is grounded for the third week. Does anyone else hear, "I'm 18 and can do what I want!" ???</p>

<p>MomLive: kudos to you for trying to be less lecture-y ;) I'm a newly minted grad and I've realized that while I generally know right and wrong in life and can feed myself, make sure I don't smell, and take care of necessities on my own, my parents don't always see that. At 22 we/I may not know the best decision for our/my life right now, but we/I usually evaluate our/my actions before doing them and if we/I won't harm myself/go broke/go to jail/die from the action, we/I think it's an okay thing to do (sometimes with caution still). It's tough on our end too because some things we just don't know (ahem, finances and house buying and being, well, a grownup that contributes to society). I get really, really frustrated and crabby when my parents try to lecture me on stuff that I already know and need to take care of, but I have a plan to do such. Even when I say I have a plan, if they don't agree everything goes batty.</p>

<p>We're trying. You're trying. It's going to take some ebb and flow, but generally we like growing up and taking responsibility and while we still need some guidance, parents need to learn that we're becoming adults and an adult-to-adult relationship needs to blossom from the kid-to-adult relationship. If that ever happens successfully for me, I'll fill you in ;) The nice thing is I've found like..responsibility (omg)...and I set my own curfew and they're pretty cool with it. I'm in bed by 11 on weekdays because I get up at 7 to swim and then go to work. Weekends I say "hey, I'm going out with so and so to this place" and they kind of leave me alone. They do demand to know where I am so if they have to go looking for me, they can narrow down the ditches I could be lying in, and also want to make sure I'm safe. But there aren't too many questions of "when are you gonna be home?" and most of the time it's early, but a few times it's 2am and they don't really bother me. I've also put my foot down that if I stay at a friend's place, it's because I'm being responsible and I'll text both of them to let them know such.</p>

<p>Just remember, you're child is not the devil child, we're all like this :)</p>

We're 4 1/2 weeks into our summer and D is grounded for the third week. Does anyone else hear, "I'm 18 and can do what I want!" ???


<p>Every day - except son will be 19 soon, so it's that much worse.</p>

<p>In last 4 weeks, we done the grounding thing, the taking away the car thing, the lecture thing repeatedly, we've also taken away some other privileges that he has just proven himself too immature to handle at this point. Right now, I'm just trying to hold on. He missed his curfew by 1 hour Friday night and 1/2 hour last night and was totally unapologetic about it. It's probably not the right thing to do but I didn't pursue it (other than some slight grumbling when he came in) - I'm trying to pick my battles and hold on to some semblance of calm in the house.</p>

Just remember, you're child is not the devil child, we're all like this.


<p>Thank you, Shoebox - it's always helpful to hear it from a young person's perspective. I have to keep reminding myself this is perfectly normal and not some sort of sign that my child is on a downward spiral. </p>

<p>We have already told him that next summer he will be working or going to school. This is the last summer where he has no real responsibilities. Too much free time is not a good thing at this age.</p>

<p>I've also told him that everything (curfews, spending the night out, etc) is all up for renegotiation when he comes home on breaks. For me (as probably your parents) it's just a gradually process of letting go. It's hard to go from being totally responsible for your child for 18 years to giving them full rein overnight.</p>

<p>well, shoebox10, i'm not entirely convinced my S is not the devil child, but i have to say that either misery loves company or there really is strength in numbers, because i feel a lot better knowing many other parents are going through the same as we are this summer. (and i do appreciate, shoebox10, that the kids have an entirely different take on all this, believe me. thanks for your post with recon from the other side. :))
i am esp happy to hear that there's light at the end of the tunnel, and that someday the sweet, kindhearted little boy who was kidnapped by aliens sometime around age 14 (if memory serves) will return and the creature left in his stead --the sullen, selfish, foul-mouthed clone who marginally tolerates his family and seems to limit his hours at home to eating, sleeping and late-night computing-- will go back from whence he came. (though he does seem to have other adults --teachers, neighbors, parents of friends, grandparents --well fooled). not holding my breath, though.
i def feel like nicksmtmom on the conflicting emotions. maybe it's because (esp when he's still sleeping, as now, and hence can't burst the fantasy with his waking presence) i give in to nostalgic reverie about that little boy and how much i'm going to miss him come the fall (cinematic kodak-moment reel, cue the sappy music: first steps, kindergarten, little league games, beach vacations, etc.) and at other moments (say, when i try to wake the sleeping dragon, or make a comment about wanting him to spend time with us or (i know, i know) curfew), i am counting down the days until he leaves. of course it's a terrible vicious circle, because this last just translates into guilt / sentimentalism about how little time he has left at home and realization that everything will change which then feeds the (entirely unrealistic) vision that i had of this summer as a stress-free (no more nagging about getting the college essay started or studying for standardized test), idyllic time together.</p>


<p>I loved your post! :)</p>

<p>You sound like my kids. It's true - we parents have to begin developing adult relationships with our kids. It's hard to do, especially when they seem young and irresponsible. Yet, it's a learning process, too. If we don't give them a chance to make their own mistakes, they never will learn from them.</p>

<p>I worry less about my kids making super horrendous mistakes, then I used to. It's hard letting go. You just hope you told them enough times to be careful and make good choices over the years so that they hear it in their heads when they are thinking about doing the opposite.</p>

<p>We've never had a curfew for the boys ... but now with 2 recent grads ( one college, 23, one high school, 19) we now have a curfew. </p>

<p>It's 11 pm on weeknights and 1 pm on weekends. You need to be either in the house or out of the house at that time, and I need to know where you are. Otherwise, I start calling you <em>and</em> your friends and sending facebook messages to anyone I can find who is still up. Embarassing? Sure. I figured it would be. So plan ahead and stay in touch.</p>

<p>I'm fed up with trying to run a business and a household with the craziness that comes from having people in and out at all hours of the night. Can't do it -- neither I nor my husband can handle having our sleep disturbed night after night after night because it might be fun to go see friends at midnight. NO MORE!</p>

If we don't give them a chance to make their own mistakes, they never will learn from them.


<p>CHA-CHING! Please inform my mother that other parents can think like this. Everytime I do something dumb and they go "we knew that would happen" I have to kindly remind them that I've never had half these experiences. Mom and I have been talking credit card stuff all day and she's all "well it's so easy". Yeah, ok..not. We're kiddies all over again, it's just with different stuff. So if anything, everyone here can look forward to, in a couple of years, helping them with adult stuff like this. Just go easy, we may be more mature, but this is like learning how to ride a bike to us.</p>

<p>Summer before I left for freshman year (oh so long ago) I was...meh. I had a boyfriend and a silly job that I kept on the side so I had occupation stuff, but mom was hurting and dad was worried and I never really realized it. I just tried to avoid trouble so I wouldn't get grounded (always been that way though, other two siblings are the issue-ful ones). I'm sure I blew up enough, but mostly, I was nervous about college. On shorter breaks from college I liked helping around the house. First summer back was miserable because I missed friends, I was transferring, had a 9-5 job, and I didn't live living with rules again.<br>
Second year, everything changed. I realized I actually liked my parents and they liked me (duuuhhh). They stopped trying to micromanage me and I tried to have a cohesive life. Third year I became 21 which was..interesting. And now, we all seem to sorta be on the same page. They don't like all of my life decisions but I keep reminding them that I am or atleast think I'll be happy and they should be too (this is a work in progress). We all still have our fights, there's lots of times where I go "this is ridiculous, I want to move out for good" and there's lots of times where I go "heck, someone made me breakfast and we're going desk shopping today for mom's new!". Everything seems to be working out and going well for us..for now :)</p>

<p>I have a 16 year old brother and read the alien quote to my mom. Her response: stop reminding me ;)</p>


<p>That is eerily similar to the transition it has been for my kids. </p>

<p>There are many things that we can teach our kids, and some of the lessons they will learn from us, some from other people and experiences.</p>

<p>What we may know as adults may be different for our kids. One of the lessons I had to learn in high school was how to balance a checkbook. You still should know how to do that, but it's different now. You can get your online balances for things every day, you can download your transactions from your bank into Quicken. </p>

<p>Managing money issues may be one of the things that we can really assist our kids with, but we also have to understand the tools at our disposal. Whether it is a checking account, getting credit cards and managing them wisely or buying a house, renting an apartment, buying a car, doing our income taxes, it's important to show our kids how to make big decisions and be responsible about them. Some kids will do better with this, than others. One of my kids is great at managing money, the other not so much. He is learning how to do a better job of it, after some big mistakes that he has learned from.</p>

<p>The nervous energy you described before going off to college is pretty typical. Parents trying to figure out stuff, you nervous about the new transition. The summer before college can be pretty frightful for both kids and their parents. It's a big step. Whether the student lives at home and commutes or goes away to college, or maybe they don't go to college at all and just move out and get a job. It's all a different dynamic.</p>

<p>It's hard, too, for parents. We work so hard to be good parents, and then by the time we figure out one developmental step, another one comes along throwing us out of whack. Then, we get through your teenage years and you are bucking to move on with your lives, leaving us to realize that we are soon out of a job.</p>

<p>I can't tell you how much I enjoy getting an email or text or phone call unsolicited from my kids. It's a joy. Having them come home and bring laundry is also great. </p>

<p>Don't get me wrong. Sometimes they are boogers. Other times, wonderfully sweet. They are kids - my kids - and I am delighted they are part of my life. I look forward to their next adventures. </p>

<p>For those in college, throw your folks a bone, once in a while. Reach out to them to talk about something silly or important. Just a text to say hi and how your day is. Even if they annoy you. ;)</p>

<p>And parents should do the same. ;)</p>

<p>Wow! No grounding, but how about piling wet clothes on the washer instead of in the dryer. I so wanted to do that last night, but didn't. At 1130 PM, she stood at the dryer, folding her clothes as she took each piece out while I waited to use it. "That's the way I do it at school".</p>

<p>This year I have my second D going off to college and I'm waiting for the "Lasts" to start. I remember them with my first.</p>

<p>"We're going out tonight because it's Sam's last night at home". Followed by a "Last" celebration for every friend, a "Last" trip to the mall, the beach, the movies, last meal at Sarah's house, etc.</p>

<p>It went on and on and on! Drained everyone's emotions while it drained everyone's wallet. Sweet, all the same.</p>