Parenting College Aged Children

By Joey and Carla Link
August 4, 2021

When our daughter Briana went to college, we couldn’t wait for her to come home for Thanksgiving. We were surprised when she kept disappearing into her room for long periods of time. When I asked her what she was doing there, she told me she needed privacy to chat with her friends from school. I am sure I was not calm when I told her to give me her phone if that is what it would take for her to spend time with her siblings and us.  
Surprising? Yes. Uncommon? Unfortunately, as we have now learned from many parents who have dealt with the same thing, it is not. Their roommates and friends were now their daily life, and we no longer were. It hurt and it was hard to deal with.                
The difference between parenting children inside your home and outside your home is not easily defined or explained as it is seen and felt in many big and little ways. Parenting children in your home is a full-time, hands-on job. Parenting them as they leave your home and giving them the freedom to discover their own journey is an entirely different matter. 
We have found ways to make this transition a bit easier. Here are some great ideas for how to parent your young adult children.
1.     Determine what areas of their life they should be independent in and which you still have authority over. You should have been using little authority with your teens for a while now, yet as you have most likely experienced, when it is needed, the word authority fits the circumstance.
·       If you are paying their way through school, you have authority over the effort they are putting into getting good grades.
·       You have authority over any part of their lives you are paying for, including their phone. If they don’t want you to have this authority, then tell them they can pay for it themselves. This includes car insurance, car maintenance, entertainment and so forth.
One of Briana’s favorite expressions that first summer she was home from college was “I’m independent now.” One day, she was going to lunch with a group of widowed ladies from our church that she and her sister had dubbed their “Grandma’s Club”. I (Carla) asked her to ask them what they thought being independent meant. When she came home, she looked at me and said “You knew what they would say!” I knew what I was hoping they would say and they did. They told her that being independent meant you were paying your own way. I asked her if she was paying her own way and when she responded “No”, I told her I did not want to hear the word “independent” out of her mouth again.
2.     Determine what their time at home will look like. I hate to say this, but most likely they will not live in your home full-time again. They come home with the mindset and attitude of a guest. We worked with each of our kids when they left home for college studies to come up with a plan for what the time they were home would look like that we all agreed on. 
·       They would still have to do chores and we expected them to have a good attitude when they were asked to.
·       They could not sleep away their days.
·       When they left the house, they were to tell us where they were going and when they would be back out of courtesy and respect.
·       They attended church with us.
·       Their phones were put away and their time was spent with their siblings and us. (Summer break was an exception)
This is the time to give them the freedom to learn and grow from their experiences and mistakes. It is also the time to sit back in joy-filled wonder as you watch your now young adult kids explore the path God created them to journey on. 
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your path straight.”
Proverbs 3:5-6