How to Deal With Your Parents While Home for the Summer

Saving money, seeing old friends, eating a home-cooked meal every night… living at home for the summer definitely has its benefits. But “too good to be true” is a saying for a reason, and typical family friction and old arguments are bound to come up again.  Not to mention the added frustration as you transition into an independent college student. Her Campus is here to help you through those annoying arguments with the advice of Dr. Roy Stefanik, a psychiatrist who specializes in working with college students.
Problem: “My mom is constantly trying to push boys on me and asks me why I don’t date more often.” –Kate, Ohio University
Solution: College is a chance for you to explore your sexuality and figure out how to build your own relationships, and for some people that may not mean always having a boyfriend. Dr. Stefanik suggests you talk to your mom about how having a boyfriend might make it harder to figure out who you are on your own, and you’d rather focus on yourself and not get bogged down in a relationship until you have your future and goals a bit more worked out. And a lot of times, parents just don’t get that people date a lot less than they used to, at least in the traditional way. Try explaining to her that you might have a short fling with a guy before it fizzles out, or that everyone at your school is more into casual hookups than long-term relationships. She may be surprisingly cool about it!

Problem: “I want to change my major, but my parents think I’m being unrealistic and childish.” - Lynn*, Duquesne University
Solution: No one says you have to stick with your major ‘til graduation do you part. It takes years, sometimes even decades, to figure out for sure what you want to be “when you grow up”, and college is only the beginning. Dr. Stefanik says, “The average person has at least three different careers during her lifetime, and this is the time to experiment with what you want to do.” Talk about your parents’ concerns, and show them how serious you are about finding a career that is both challenging and enjoyable. Do some research on your chosen field to prove to them that you’re serious about your decision. For example, if your ‘rents are set on you going pre-med but you’re just dying to try graphic design, show your family projects you’ve been working on and share what firms or industries you hope to design for after school.

Problem: “My parents are always comparing me to my older sister and her successful career and life.” - Olivia, Ohio University
Solution: Your parents are always going to have certain expectations of you that can't be met. You’re their perfect little girl, and sometimes it’s hard for them to understand that you may have goals, values and skills that aren’t quite what they’d envisioned. Instead of getting jealous and defensive when your parents bring up your sister’s great job, stellar grades or steady relationship, remind them of why they should be just as proud of YOU. She may be a successful lawyer or a high-powered business executive, but maybe you’re a talented musician or a gifted athlete. Keep working at what you love, and don’t let them push you into the shadows!


Problem: “My mom makes me feel guilty about not being home for dinner enough.  I tell her that we aren't usually home to eat with them during the school year, so she shouldn't count on us in the summer, but that doesn't help much.  I feel bad, but if I was home too much more, I think I would go crazy.” - Brittany*, Boston College
Solution: Coming home from school for the first time can be a huge shock for both you and your parents. You’ve just spent a year living on your own, but your parents may still want to treat you as they did before you left for school. It may be hard for them to back off and act more like a support system and less like a police force. Dr. Stefanik says, “It's important to realize that your moving out to attend school may be rougher on them than on you.” Try to think of how your parents are feeling before you blow up on them about the small stuff. A simple dinner twice a week won’t kill you, and your mom will be over the moon to be able to cook you your favorite home-cooked meals again. And even if you can’t make it home, don’t forget to text—a quick message can make all the difference in keeping the peace.
Problem: “I fight with my parents about curfew. They don't make me come home at any particular time, since I'm 22, but they'll still get upset if I come home very late. They’re overbearing and say that I should be checking in, but it's not like I do that when I'm at school.” - Katie, Indiana University
Solution: Dr Stefanik says, “If your parents continuously push you to conform to their views, the push back can be pretty hard. Sitting down and talking with them to clarify expectations can make it easier on everyone involved.” If you still have a curfew, try to meet in the middle—if your parents are still pushing your high-school 1 AM cutoff, and you’re used to staying out all night at school, negotiate for a 2 AM curfew time instead. And either way, be considerate. If you’re going to be sleeping out, shoot your mom a text, and if you come home late take your shoes off to reduce noise. A little respect goes a long way!
*Names have been changed