Setting Boundaries for College Students Home on a Visit

Parents know the crash and bangs at all hours of the early morning, making you wonder if you’re being robbed or if that’s your college student getting in from a night out with friends. When your baby comes back home as a new young adult, it can be challenging to have that first initial visit when they come home. And I've found, every break when they boomerang back changes a bit, so these are always ongoing conversations. While things can take a while to adjust fully, here are a few tips for setting boundaries for college students when they come home to visit.


Setting Boundaries for College Students Home on a Visit

photo by Essence Media

Lay ground rules

Ground rules should cover a few basic things that you have for anyone in the house. This includes gentle reminders about things like putting plates in the sink or no loud noises after 10 pm. Your student has been away for a little while so a gentle reminder can help. Set these up ahead of time before they come so that expectations are set as soon as they come into the front door.

Honestly, our biggest rule is just to have common courtesy. Everything else falls into place. If they aren't coming home for dinner, a simple text to let me know is common courtesy. Staying out late? Just let me know. I worry, so it's just common courtesy that keeps me from going over the edge and in the end, makes their visits home more enjoyable.

Set a curfew

If you are a parent who can’t sleep until you know your baby boy is safe in bed, you’ll want to talk with your child to set a curfew. They may be adults now, but if they stay with you, they need to respect your curfew. Be sure that as a parent, you also keep in mind that they are a young adult who will want to stay out past 8 pm on the weekend.

Listen, I get it. When the kids are at college, there is no curfew. They are staying out until all hours. For me, setting a curfew {even if it's 4 am!} just lets me know when I need to start worrying about them if they aren't home in bed. 

photo by Essence Media

Set expectations

You're excited for your college kiddo to come home on break, but then you catch a whiff of what they are planning and none of it involves family time. Don't have unrealistic expectations of your college students visit home. Set the expectations that are important to you, and anything else, is a bonus. For example, one dinner with the family when they are home is usually my biggest expectation. If I get dinner a few times AND family game night, bonus! Low expectations are the best expectations I've learned.

Remember they are an adult too

When you’re all caught up in setting boundaries and laying down ground rules, don’t forget that your little one is an adult now. Your child is no longer a child under your roof but an adult coming to stay with you. While you may not treat them like any old house guest, you should also remember that they are an adult.

I also realize what a privilege it is to have a relationship with my adult kids and home is still a soft place to land. Ask them for a few of their favorite foods they want stocked in the fridge when they get home {yep, they change as they get bigger!}, and maybe have a few of their local friends favorites too. 

Respect their boundaries

As your little one has grown up and gone off to college, they likely have new habits, from drinking coffee to skipping breakfast. Respect their new boundaries, and don’t be afraid to ask or see where you can make time for each other without stepping over them. This will avoid a lot of future arguments later.


photos by Essence Media

Remember it’s only for a few days

Your child isn’t moving back in with you, they are visiting for a few days. Repeat this a few times to yourself and breathe. It can be so easy to get caught up in the stress and excitement of having your child come to visit, but you need to keep your head on straight.

If you have a college student coming to visit soon, make sure you use these tips to help make that those visits are a great one. You are both learning to navigate this new relationship between you two, so make sure you’re doing your part to set it up for success.

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