How to discipline when their days at home are numbered? - FamilyEducation
How to discipline when their days at home are numbered?
06/20/2007 at 22:01 PM

What do you do with kids who are home for the summer between high school and starting college and think there should be no rules?  Do you just turn your head?  Our family life is totally disrupted.

Hey Sandy


Welcome to the boards.  My daughter is about to turn 15, so I haven't been there yet but I don't think I would just turn my head.  In my house I believe that my daughter has to show my husband and me respect and that includes following our rules.  You are not on your own in my mind until you are paying all your own bills.  Having said that, I do think that you don't have to be as strict on an 18 year old as you do a 15 year old and there should be some freedom there.  But, with freedom comes responsibility and that should be clear too.


I would sit down with my child and have a talk about rules, what they think is reasonable and what I think is reasonable and come to some sort of compromise.  If the rules are broken then at that age I would make them pay a fine, like we have to pay if we are caught speeding.  I think that is a good way to prepare them for how the law with deal with them as they turn into a grown-up.


Anyone else have any ideas?




Hey Sandy:

My daughter is 18 and heading off to college in August.  We were really strict with her in the past, no hanging out during school nights, curfew of midnight on Friday and Saturdays and 9 p.m. on Sundays.

She is now working during the summer break and we've gotten a bit more linient.  We've allowed her to stay out during the week, but since she's working, it's not as appealing to her and she's home after work anyway.  On weekends we've allowed an extra 1/2 hour as well as extending her time on Sunday.  She's proven she can be responsible and that is the key.  She understands that she still has rules to follow.

If your son isn't working then adding some extra household chores during the day to make sure he understands that summers aren't always a free ride might be useful.  He's still only 18 and even though he heading off to college and expected to act like an adult, I'm sure he's looking for bounderies from you.  Sit down and let him know what your expectations are and let him know that these rules apply while he's away as well...No drinking, smoking, inappropriate sexual behavior, etc. 

The main thing is communication.  I think an open discussion with your expectations and his out on the table will be helpful.  Once you've all stated your expecations, and hear his try to come to an agreement you are both comfortable with.  Let him know that these things are subject to change depending on his level of maturity.

Good luck.



I agree, communicate your feelings calmly. Like: "I know you have a lot of fun things to do, but so do we. You live here for free, so you should be helping out more. Otherwise, it ends up that we do all the work for you." Then give a concrete request, that is not open to interpretation, like, "Please take the garbage to the trash can right now, thanks."Our son is living at home while he goes to college, but he needs frequent reminders that we aren't his domestic slaves. Their lives are pretty exciting now, but if they don't learn responsibility they'll make horrible roommates and students. When he gets really "forgetful" about helping out, we take away his computer mouse and keyboard so he can't read his email, play online games, etc. I'm not against taking away his cell phone as well, but it never got that far.


I have a daughter in a similar position.  We've had several serious discussions, and I've been rock-solid firm in my position.  As long as you are living in my house and I am supporting you, there are expectations.  These include being polite to me, doing a few chores each week, letting me know by 5PM whether or not you will be home for dinner, leaving the door to your room open when male guests are here, calling home if you won't be home by 10 PM so I know where you are, who you are with, what you are doing.... things like that.  She argued with me several times about her 'right" to visit a male friend's family for the week-end without my having a telephone number for the family and having talked with the parents.  I finally said she had to call me no later then 8PM the night she arrived, give me the number and let me talk with the parents, or she would no longer be living at my house.  I know, in my heart, she loves me and is just "testing" for independence, but really wants limits.  I also feel if we let our children emotionally abuse us, we are doing severe damage to our self-esteem, but also to their mental health.  When my daughter tried to wear me down, by bringing a subject up repeatedly, I just said, " We are done discussing this."  Then I'd leave the room to make my point perfectly clear.  


It is a wonderful thing that your child is headed to college.  Congratulations!  The process to get them into college and finish high school can be a long and arduous one.   For you child to receive their HS diploma is a huge accomplishment.  As a single parent raising 2 teenagers, one a rising junior and the other a rising sophomore there are many distractions along the way that can prevent your child from successfully completing high school  During the teen years it is important for teens to gain a sense of respect for themselves and the others around them.  Both my children are very different and have various interests that help foster this sense of respect - one is very involved in the church youth group and the other with library volunteering, sports and academics.  Both my children  work - my son at the local supermarket and my daughter as a babysitter.  They enjoy their free time when they have it.  I believe that with too much spare time on their hands there would be an increase in parent/teen conflicts in our home.  Open and honest communication and definite written ruless build structure and clear up ambiguity between the teens and adults.  

It's also very helpful to write up a contract related to certain items - I've been successful with my son's driving guidelines by using a contract.  A contract for the summer behavior can be agreed upon by you and the college freshman to be.  Such items as household responsibilities, curfews, acceptable and non-acceptable behavior can be defined and agreed to.  Successful completion of the contract could be rewarded in some manner that the teen would feel motivated to comply - related to car, matching their summer earnings... So if they work and earn $2000 you would match them .50 to a dollar so an amuunt of $1000.  Then pay it to them during the school year in equal installments  ($100 per month for the school year).  It is essential that the money be paid out throughout the school year so that the same method can be used the following summer if this strategy is successful.    Breach of contract - you'd have to figure out what you are willing to do related to that, removal of car privledges, reduction in discretionary spending while in college.    It is essential that the money be paid out throughout the school year so that the same method can be used the following summer if this strategy is successful.  

It is very important when writing up the contract to have in your mind what is most important to you.  Don't sweat the little things and focus on what is important to you and your child.   Don't change the contract without agreement by both you and your child.  Good luck with your challenge.  


Hi Sandy,

I feel for you. My step daughter is 18 and is always saying, you can't ground me as i am 18 and it sucks, she has her own laptop and is on it all the time, we can't take it away, as she bought it, and her room is a total reck zone, so if she wants to do something, or go somewhere, we now say, if your room is not totally done, you can't go, but she doesn't care, and she doesn't want any rules, but i just figure, she will be out on her own soon, so its not worth it.  But i feel, for your family as our family was disrupted for a while, as the other children, aways said, how come she is never grounded,,, so its a rough time, just stick with your rules, and ask her to help out, as you have too much to do, and would like some help, and then you can do a mom, daughter thng with her... it may work? 




I've read some of these...what about my 19yos who was told by his father to NOT work during the summer (my ex husband)? He helps clean a *little* but he runs all kinds of errands for me, including taking his brother to band practices and sometimes doing all the grocery shopping for me on his own. He also does most of his own laundry.