1. When your child brings a boyfriend or girlfriend home to visit, what should the sleeping arrangements be? Let's be honest -- even if they start off in separate rooms, there's no guarantee they'll stay in separate rooms unless you plan on becoming the house RA. For me, once they're shown their separate "quarters," I'm no longer in charge. I tell myself repeatedly, my child is an adult now. And I think about anything but what I'm thinking about.
2. When your child is heading off to freshman year at a school away from home, do you go to help move him in, even if money is a hardship? And if you don't, will it create lasting emotional scars for your child regardless of how practical and self-assured he seems? A woman who works at a car rental company told me she couldn't believe how many parents were helping their kids move into school these days --- how she had to do it on her own, and how her parents just said see you when she left home, and how they never stepped foot on campus. By the time I signed my rental forms, she had talked her way into a tearful frenzy. It was the first time I've ever said I'm sorry while paying for something.
3. Once your child has been at college for a semester, is it fair to impose a curfew when he's back home for a visit? I've found that parents with more than one child tend to be more lenient about curfews post-high school -- they get tired of staying up, waiting for multiple children to arrive safely. Regardless, a curfew is tough to enforce once someone has lived without one. I say, if it helps you sleep, then yes, impose away. Not all of us can turn the worry off, just because our kids are of legal age.
4. If something happens to you, a family member, or family pet while your child is away at school, is it best to let him know immediately or to wait until you think the time is right? We spend so much of our parenthood protecting our kids, and revealing bad news carefully and judiciously. When I had an emergency recently, I didn't want to alarm my son, but I also didn't want him to think he was forgotten -- not part of the family anymore. In my opinion, it's best to discuss how they want to handle things ahead of time, so you can respect their wishes as a young adult.
5. If, while home for a visit, your nearly 21-year-old tells you she'll be going to a friend's and will have a beer or two while she's there, that she has a ride from a non-drinker, whom you know, and that her friend's parents, whom you know, will be there -- do you forbid her to go or let her? If she's in college, this happens plenty, minus the parents. Still, she's telling you the truth and wants you to know. However, she's underage and so are most of the kids, and they and the parents can get into trouble. What to do? Other than calling the parents, which seems extreme, I say you remind your daughter of the potential issues, and then turn it back over to her. You cannot control all the decisions she makes, and at some point, she's got to start assuming responsibility for them.
What are your thoughts on these questions? Weigh in below.
Join me next Monday for another installment of the Pre-Empt Chronicles, as I transition from full house to empty nest.