12 Most Wise Things to Remember When Your College Kid Comes Home

12 Most Wise Things to Remember When Your College Kid Comes Home

Our college kids. We love them, we miss them — and then, when they come home for school breaks… we are ready to kill them. At Grown and Flown, we have explored life through these tumultuous years as we help our kids ready themselves for the adult world.

Here are some things to remember:

1. They love us but they love their friends too

Don’t be hurt when they give you the hello and goodbye and head straight out the door to see their old high school buddies.

2. They have spent a semester (at least) reinventing themselves and may look a tad different

Perhaps don’t lead with “OMG, you got your nose pierced!”

3. Alcohol is very much part of college life

They drink at school, they will want to drink at home. Get the family policy ready.

4. They may now have a girlfriend or boyfriend with whom they are sleeping at college.

See above, get the family policy ready.

5. Cooking and cleaning, however, are not part of college life

After three months of cafeteria food they will have remembered how much they love your home cooking and forgotten how to put dishes in the dishwasher or where the recycling and garbage recycling and garbage are located. You will need to remind them.

6. Overcook

Family dinner may be at 7:00, but around about 2:00 am college kids get hungry again. Leftovers will be very much appreciated.

7. Sharing the family car

If you are suburban dwellers and used to having your own car, the return of the college student can be a bit of a monkey wrench. Tell them you are happy to share an automobile with those who leave gas in the car, but not garbage.

8. If there are younger siblings in the house

…particularly those still in school and studying, the noise of the night late hours, odd eating times and alcohol consumption might not be the best example. College kids may need to be reminded that younger brothers and sisters are not roomates and should not be treated as such.

9. Money may be a new issue

At school your student may be on a meal plan and living on or near a campus that has relatively cheap entertainment. Back home they may have different ideas of entertainment that will need to be carefully budgeted before the party begins.

10. Many colleges have long breaks extending for three, four or even five weeks

College kids home for that long can easily get restless and bored, irritating the adults in the family for whom life has proceeded as usual. Make a plan with your kid on how this block of time will be spent.

11. Take a deep breath before responding to snide or cynical comments

…and don’t take them personally, regardless of how sharp the barb. You are readjusting to each other. Once the heat of the moment has passed, remind them of the correct way to speak to adults.

12. Enjoy every minute

These years are few and waning. After college your child may find a job and an apartment in a different town or simply be too busy at a new job to spend long luxurious weeks at home. While your house may be turned upside down with noise at all hours and an empty refrigerator, just try to remember how much you are going to miss this.

Do you remember visits home from college? How did your new independent life fit back into your parents home? How will you manage this with your kids?

Featured image courtesy of Photography King licensed via Creative Commons.

Lisa Heffernan


Lisa Endlich Heffernan is one of the voices behind Grown and Flown: Parenting from the Empty Nest. She has an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management and worked as a Wall Street trader before becoming an author of three books including New York Times Business Bestseller, "Goldman Sachs: The Culture of Success." You can also find Lisa on the Grown and Flown blog or on Twitter.

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 Lisa, Oh how I wish I would have read this BEFORE my daughter came home for winter break! Thank you for this great list! I shared it with my husband and we will definitely be referring back to it this summer!!


Every one of these resonated with me, both as a long-ago college student and as the mother of three. Terrific!


every single one of these points is true. Oh! Heaven bless us parents.


You got this perfectly, especially #1. I remember flying home from college and flying right out the door to see my high school friends. Oh and #4 too...I'm dreading that one with my own kids!

Sharon Greenthal
Sharon Greenthal

Each and every one of these is spot on! They come home...and then they leave again. Enjoy it all!


True, true, true. Every single one. Been there, done that, and now I'm so thankful my daughters visit only for a night or two, not three to five weeks. Gah! Good luck, everyone!