Rules for a Kid Living at Home But Going to College

From financial struggles to a simple feeling of home-sickness, there are a number of reasons why college students choose to continue living with their parents. For the parent, it's integral to establish healthy ground rules that allows your young adult the freedom they deserve, while still reinforcing the idea the college student must respect your home, property and standards.

Establishing the Rules

During the summer before your young adult's freshman year, sit down with him and work through and establish the ground rules. Explain to your child that even though he's technically an adult, he's still living in your home and under your rules. Work with your college student to establish rules you both find acceptable. However, ultimately remember this is your home and you expect your child to treat it, you and the rules with respect.


Talk with your student about establishing a curfew. While it's important to provide your young adult with freedom, it's also critical for them to understand that with freedom comes responsibility. For example, college student may have the freedom to come and go as he pleases, but in lieu of a curfew, he has the responsibility of letting you know where he is and who he's with. Also, let your child know that it's never acceptable to drink and drive, and that you are available to give him a ride home or arrange a taxi to pick him up. Also establish rules about your child bringing people home 1. He is an adult, and this is a distinct possibility. If you're not comfortable with your college student bringing home guests in the night, make this known.


If your young adult was expected to pull his weight in the home through chores while in high school, continue this practice. You might consider creating additional responsibilities, such as doing his own laundry or assisting with driving younger siblings to school or extracurricular after-school activities. Keep in mind your college-aged student is very busy, and won't have time to take on an extraneous amount of additional responsibilities inside the home. However, if he isn't willing to contribute, remind him that it is your home, and although he's an adult, not performing chores is not acceptable. Appropriate consequences could include limiting access to a vehicle or if things escalate, not allowing your young adult to reside in the home any longer.

Paying Rent or Bills

The transition from high school to college is stressful, and very expensive, which is why many parents and young adults agree that it is cost-effective for the child to continue living at home. However, allowing your child to live rent free won't help prepare him for the financial responsibilities associated with supporting himself. Help ease your young adult's transition into the “real world” by insisting that he pay rent, for his own food or that he pitch-in and pay a utility, such as the cable or his own cellular phone bill. Remain realistic about what your college student can afford, but remind him he's no longer a “resident” but a “guest” inside the home, meaning he is also responsible for the bills. If your child is unwilling to meet his financial responsibilities, allow the natural consequences to occur. For example, if won't pay his cell phone bill, turn the cell phone off. If he won't help pay cable, turn the cable off to his bedroom.