Mary Pat: Micromanaging a College Student

Dear Mary Pat,

My son has been home from his first year of college and we have already had several minor battles about his independence and our rules. On his second night home, he came in at 1:30 am and woke us up when the dog started barking. Over breakfast, I told him that we didn’t appreciate being woken up in the middle of the night. He told me that we can’t treat him like a baby anymore since he’s used to coming and going from his dorm without any kind of curfew. I went to work, he went back to bed and I forgot about our conversation. It came back to me, however, when I went to start a load of laundry after dinner and nearly tripped over a huge pile of his dirty clothes. I guess my son’s definition of adulthood doesn’t include doing his own laundry. I don’t want to argue with my son and I have no desire to micro manage his life. I’m sure things will settle down once he starts his summer job, but then again, maybe not. Any advice on how to make this transition an easier one?


Not the Prison Warden

Baileys Harbor, Wis.

Dear Not the Prison Warden,

I’m dying to know…did you do his laundry for him? I hope the answer is no. If he has the luxury of staying out until 1:30 am and taking a nap after breakfast, he surely has time to do some laundry.

It is an adjustment getting used to having your son back under your roof just as it was an adjustment when he left for school last fall. You and your husband have to simply spell out what your expectations are. It’s reasonable to have a curfew if, for no other reason, that you don’t want to be woken up in the middle of the night. It’s reasonable to have your son pull his own weight with laundry and the occasional chore. Even though he’s an adult, house rules have to be respected. It’s really no different than being considerate of a dorm-mate or a roommate.

Good luck,

Mary Pat

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