Wednesday Wisdom Tips – Visitors from College


Today’s question comes from Lucy:

“I would like some insight on the best way to deal with older children who return home between college years. My children know my “open” heart, and they take in “stray students” who either don’t want to go home, or can’t afford to go home, and they volunteer for them to live for the entire summer at OUR HOUSE!  Extra beds to set up, extra mouths to feed (an additional 21 year old college senior boy eats a lot!) and extra clothes to wash…and I work 40 hours a week on top of that!

Of course, I want to be a servant of God, and the kids say, “Mom, you are always offering to help other people.  I thought you would WANT them to stay here!”  And I do ….or at least, most of the time I do.  But not only do they think that they can move home and keep the same rules they have set for themselves while they are away at college, but they bring home all of their friend’s extra dorm stuff, because they told them we would store it for them for the summer.  I don’t want to lose my cool, but I need some control over my home! HELP!”

I know many of you are not at this point in raising kid. My husband and I are and having grown children is a whole different dynamic.

Lucy, I love that your kids see the heart of Jesus in you; what a compliment! I certainly understand your need for boundaries though. When my son left for college, I told him that I knew at some point he would want to bring a friend home, but please ask me first. Unfortunately, the ask usually came after he had already told his friend to come on!

I have learned some pretty valuable lessons watching my older siblings and their children;  I’m number seven of eight, so I have plenty of role models! I watch the interactions they have with their adult children and have learned:

If I want my kids to behave in a certain way when they are adults, I need to tell them now. Some examples that I have covered are:

* When you have company, it’s important to change the sheets when they come.

* Don’t forget your dad is allergic to animals, so if you have pets, you’ll have to clean extra well before we visit.

* Be sure to offer your guest something to drink/eat when they arrive.

* When you come and visit me, please be sure to help me clean up the meal afterwards.

There is something extremely uncomfortable about having to ask a 20-something to help you wash dishes.You would think that manners like these would be learned from observation, but there is something that is often missed between demonstrating manners and copying them.

Although this doesn’t help for this summer, Lucy, clarify with your student your heart and your expectations, so everyone can have an enjoyable summer! I hope you at least have some extra summer help!

What do you think Lucy can do to help her get through the summer?

P.S. I asked my soon-t0-be 18 year old and her friend what they thought. Their advice, “When kids come home for the summer, they need to resume whatever the rules are in the house.” Glad they see it that way! I’ll have to remind her of that in a couple of years!



  1. I forgot to share how Greg and I handle this…our son stays at college and goes to summer school. 🙂

  2. I would expect that whoever comes home for the summer live under some general rules that are set forth at the beginning – such as that they will do their own laundry and be responsible for cleaning – say the bathroom that they always use if you have more than one – and help with the dishes every Friday or something like that. Don’t just give them free room and board but make them help out just like they would be expected to (I would hope) if they lived at home or in their own apartment. Don’t do it all for them but set forth a schedule of when you expect them to do what and how often it will need to be done.

  3. It will all stop when they get jobs, and you look back with fondness, missing all the activity:-)

    1. Pam…so true! I miss my son all the time!

  4. Now my home is always open and I have a big heart for strays, animals, elderly widows, foster or troubled children, ect… But college kids are in most cases different. My son’s friend tried this once. He was only stopping by for a home cooked meal on his way home which turned into an overnight which turned into a weekend which turned into a week. His friend loved it here and just didn’t want to leave, nor did he want to get a job or do anything but play and sleep. So….. perhaps I am a selfish mom but my summers with my children are short enough and I look forward to some quality family time with them. They are also expected to have full time summer employment, do their own laundry, and help with chores when needed. They are free to come and go and visit their friends but we try to set some family time a couple of times a week. So…. one morning, when my long standing plans with my son was about to become a threesome, I gently told the young man that we loved him but I hadn’t seen my son in months and I was really looking forward to having some alone quality time with him that summer and although he could visit on occassion, he really needed to go home. The kid said he understood and willing left on good terms and visited on a short term basis on occassion.

  5. I use to say, “I have to get home, I have 5 teenagers in my house”.
    People at the store would respond, “Why is that?”
    “Well I gave birth to 4 of them.” was my reply.
    Now they are 21,19,17 1/2 and 16.
    The 21 year old moved out on her own last Christmas.
    The past 4 years I have had a lot of kids come and stay for various amounts of time.
    To boy friends, “After the 3rd time you come over, you are no longer a guest, and with all these girls in the house, don’t forget to put down the toilet seat.”
    To girl friends, “Make sure to not leave hair in the shower, or any person hygiene product in the bathroom visible”
    Any friend, “After the 2nd dinner expect you will be asked to do dishes.”
    This last year I have had a rash on my hands that is made worse from hot water. Everyone must help.
    As far as the unbelievable amount they can eat, I am up front with my kids about the grocery budget. If you want snack food, provide it yourselves or there is always popcorn and water.
    These kids (the visitors) will remember you their entire life and give you many grandkids.

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