Curfew for College Student-Complicated Situation

[deleted account] ( 16 moms have responded )

My son is about to finish his first year of college. He has been away. The Fall semester was extremely rocky. We had some major disagreements, which resulted in little to no communication between us, and no support from me. During that time, he came home twice, but he didn't talk to me or live with me; he lived with his girlfriend. Towards Xmas break we started to communicate and tried to find some healthy boundaries. For the most part, things worked out, but there still were some rocky areas, especially as it pertains to him living with the girlfriend. Since Xmas break we have been talking more and things have improved a great deal in just a month. He has decided to come home to my house over Spring Break and ultimately Summer. There is no more talk of him not coming to my house. While I'm very happy to have him home (for real), I don't know how to handle when he comes in the house. In high school, he had a 1am curfew, but that was abandoned the summer before he left for college. He's been living in the house with his 17 year old girlfriend; yes, her mother allowed it. I never agreed with that and I surely don't want him sleeping there. The girlfriend is pressuring him to live at her house, crying and begging. I don't mind him having her in his life if that is what he chooses, but I don't agree that he spend the night with her OR come in my house at late as 4 or 5am in the morning. What can I do? How can I communicate to him that 4/5am is not respectful without seeming as if I'm controlling him??

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Chelsea - posted on 01/31/2014

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While I agree with everyone else on the fact that building the relationship back up is a great thing, but I think the whole curfew thing is a bit over bounds. Your son is in college, he is an adult now, and more than likely is around the age of 20. I would not impose a curfew, but talk to him about how you feel, and hopefully it will help. This girl does not seem good for him anyways, and being able to make his own mistakes and live his own life will be good for him. Coming from a girl who grew up with parents who did this, and even after I got married and had a child still tried to control me, and we have now not talked in about 2 years, I would give him some space and let him do his thing. I know it sucks, but it has to happen at some point.

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 01/30/2014

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Is your son over 18, Tiffany, because if he is, he is most definitely NOT a "half grown" kid, and you continuing to treat him as if he is is most definitely NOT doing him a favor!

He's an adult. If he fucks up, he fucks up, faces the consequences, fixes the problem and moves on. Thats how adults do things. And if you think he's incapable of doing that, then you need to back off the control stick and let him learn how to be independent.

He's been out from under your thumb the entire time he's at school, and he's not fucked up yet, has he? So why are you assuming that he's too young to be able to live his life?

[deleted account]

Good feedback, Chet. Question: if he's going to stay at the g-friend's house till 5am, is he still living there? Seems to me he's still living there if he's there all night...

Chet - posted on 01/30/2014

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I'm not clear what is specifically disrespectful about coming home at 4am or 5am. I grew up with a father in law enforcement and he came and went at all hours for his job.

Now, if you take issue with your son coming in at 4am because he's with his girlfriend (not working) then you're trying to control him. You're making a judgement about where he should be and what he should be doing.

So I think your real question is "how do I control my adult son such that he doesn't feel controlled?".

It's your house. It's fair to say that you don't want to support him in a lifestyle you disagree with. It's fair to say that someone coming home at 4am is too disruptive to the other people who live in the house (although if you can handle someone coming in at 1am I don't see much difference with 4am). But understand that you ARE making a comment on how he chooses to live his life and that he may not respond positively to being judged in that way.

The late teens and early twenties tend to be a very peer focused stage of life, and it tends to be a time where people learn about life and relationships through experience and mistakes. Your son needs to sort things like this out on his own.

My general sense on this is that you should work on strengthening your relationship with your son above anything else. That doesn't mean agreeing with everything he does, or giving him your blessing when you don't agree. It just means giving him the space to make his own choices and agreeing to disagree on some things.

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Leela - posted on 01/30/2014

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Hi Tiffany I definitely agree about focusing on building your relationship with him. Instead of dictating to him about a curfew let him know your concerns and ask him to be mindful of this. Have some faith in him. You never know.

[deleted account]

I agree that the focus needs to be on further building a healthy relationship, and my hope is that from that he'll be mindful of coming home at a decent hour.
I also agree that imposing a curfew will really hurt our relationship.
One day at a time...

Chet - posted on 01/30/2014

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I never said that I support your son's choices. My only point is that you probably can't have this exactly the way you want it. You just can't.

You need to separate your emotional response to what your son is doing from the reality of situation. The reality is that you can't stop your son from having sex with his girlfriend. You can refuse to let him live at your house, but that will probably hurt your relationship (which you wanted to improve). You can insist that he be home by some magic time you determine, but that's just optics. It doesn't change anything. It just gives you some arbitrary timeslot to fight about and probably encourages him to speed at night when he's tired.

It sounds like you want your adult son to have the "decency" to sneak around because you don't like the way it looks when he comes home at 5am. But if there's no particular problem with him coming in at 5am what's the point? How is 5am disrespectful and midnight or 1am okay?

Honestly, if you work to build a strong relationship with your son, and give him the space to make his own choices and learn from his own mistakes he'll come to see you as a resource and he'll consider and value your opinion.

[deleted account]

@Chet - it matters to me that my son is "shacking" with a teenage girl. If you don't see the multiple errors with that, then maybe our differences are a matter of culture. Where my son lives 'in general' is his choice. What varies is what I'm willing to support, and I am not willing to support him living with his chic.

Yes, it most definitely bothers me that he is fucking, period. While I realize that he is not a virgin, I feel as if I am promoting that when I say that coming in at all hours of the night is acceptable. While I realize that he isn't a child, I think there should be some healthy, respectable boundaries when he is home. I understand that fucking at 5am could happen when he's at school, but that's not on my watch.

I haven't decided to give my son a curfew. But I'm thinking about repeated nights where my house becomes a hotel versus a home where integrity and respect are instilled.

Please keep in mind that I am not working with a mature adult.

And, this matter is not merely one where he leaves his girl to go home to mama. It's a matter of respect for the people that are providing and sacrificing for him; it's a matter of respect the overall flow of the home/family that he is a part of.

Chet - posted on 01/30/2014

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Why does it matter where your son is officially living? It may matter, I'm just wondering what you're getting at.

Does it bother you that he's having sex, or just that he isn't coming home right afterwards? I don't understand why this is coming down to where your son is between 1am and 5am. Any mistake he can make in the wee hours of the morning he can make any other time of day.

Many parents feel that they have a right to say how their adult child should live their lives as long as they support them. Sometimes this works, sometimes it causes kids to drop out of college and work at crappy jobs for the rest of their lives. Sometimes it helps kids to focus on school and getting themselves setup in a stable financial situation, other times it forces kids further into bad relationships that they stay in way too long because they can't stand to go home to their parents who they think will just say "I told you so". Sometimes it keeps kids under your wing until they fully mature, other times it keeps kids under your wing forever because it grossly stunts their independence and self confidence (or they just leave you for a spouse who controls them instead).

You can take a hard line on this girlfriend thing and where your son officially lives... that's completely fair. It's your house and your money. However, it's pretty much impossible to get an adult to bend to your will AND to improve your relationship with them at the same time.

You may not see your son not asfully an adult, and I don't doubt that he has lots of maturing to do, but that doesn't mean he sees himself as a dependent child who has to leave his girlfriend and go home when his mom says so.

[deleted account]

...every night... just doesn't sit right with me. I may just have to wait and see how it goes. I surely don't want to inflict a curfew; seems juvenile.

I don't understand this comment: And, how would it NOT be on him if he, as you so quaintly say, 'fucks up", unless you plan on just taking over for his responsibilities at that point?

I don't think (if you will) "half-grown" kids are the only ones that suffer the consequences of really bad mistakes they make...

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 01/30/2014

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How is coming home at 4-5 am 'irresponsible'? Theoretically, you have no idea what he's doing, so you can't judge by that.

If he's not out raising hell, and coming in quietly...I don't see a problem. And, how would it NOT be on him if he, as you so quaintly say, 'fucks up", unless you plan on just taking over for his responsibilities at that point?

[deleted account]

lol! Compromise is good and that has worked on a few issues so far. For ex: he wants to return home in April for her prom. I disagree with this choice, but I didn't say no to it. I just put that responsibility on him in terms of finance, school responsibilities, etc. I've tried to help him think the situation through in terms of things he needs to consider, but no dictatorship happening. If he elects to come home, i'll welcome him home.
... but the coming in at 4/5 i'm still struggling with. every night... it's irresponsible and the consequences aren't some that he can handle. I guess I could take the "well, if he fucks up it's on him" approach, but really it won't be entirely on him...
thinking...

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 01/30/2014

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If he's in college, he's over the age of 18, which is considered to be an adult in most countries, including the US.

And, he IS capable of making decisions, as most 18 year olds are. Proof of that is that he's finished a year of college. A KID doesn't finish their first year of college.

If he's not paying his way, he needs to get a job, regardless of school. My son works, goes to school, pays his own flat, and personal expenses, and has since he graduated HS (Paid his expenses, that is, not lived on his own)

But, here's the difference. My son has always known what is expected of him. He's always known that, at a certain age, the 'providing' goes away, and he needs to be responsible. HE was the one who wanted to pay me room/board. I agreed that it was an excellent idea to get him ready to move into the 'real' world.

So, if you're not charging your adult child room & board, and allowing them to live in your home, then by all means, enforce childish rules on them. But, if you want him to respect your rules, respect him, treat him as an adult, and come to a compromise, rather than you remaining a dictator. Otherwise, he'll either expect you to support him for the rest of his life, or he'll cut you out, and he will move in with 'girlie'.

[deleted account]

Thanks, Shawnn. I appreciate you taking the time to post. I struggle with the whole "he's an adult" concept when he's really NOT an adult. He's an older child that is dependent on parents for his livelihood. If he truly were an adult, he'd have his own place and be able to fully dictate his journey without consulting me. An adult can handle sleeping with "girlie" and making a baby... He can't...
Also, a "tenant" pays to live. Another indication that he's not an adult yet.
Disruption is minimal, but respect is the bigger issue here, at least for me...
Oh, and if he does move back in with her, he can count on her supporting him because I don't take care of people that live with their girlfriends. I think he knows that by now...

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 01/30/2014

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Um, dictating how your adult child can spend is time, or who they can spend it with IS trying to control him.

However, you CAN treat him as a tenant, and have mutual respect between the both of you. He contributes by way of room & board to your household, and the both of you sign a contract agreeing to terms.

If it is disruptive for him to come in at any hour, then you can indicate in the terms of the contract that you would like him to be in by a certain time as a courtesy to his housemates. But, you cannot dictate to him that he cannot spend the night with his girlfriend...because he's an adult, and he'll just move back in with her.

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