Going home to finish the semester sucks.  Period.  No one signed up for this.  Your college student really feels like they got the short end of the stick for their Freshmen (or Senior) year in college.  No matter your year in college, this is not how we expected the year to play out.  In fact, it’s not how we expected 2020 to be at all.

Parents are trying to be empathetic, hide their enthusiasm for having their student home, and also trying to scramble to put together house rules.  It’s adorable and well-intentioned and yet it a situation of walking on eggshells.  First and foremost, as a parent you must stifle your enthusiasm to make room for your child’s grief and loss.  You must normalize their frustration and anger, and ensure they’re not out drinking away their sorrows and compromising the health of the rest of your household.  By aligning with them emotionally, they will feel a lot more comforted and at ease moving forward with their new normal.

If this is your first born and you’re not sure how to tackle them being back home so soon, seek out support.  Finding a parent coach to help you during these wild times will really ensure that the blow ups in the home are kept to a minimal.  Although when you look at your kid you may see them as the kindergartner you dropped off at school, they are technically an adult now.  You must treat them like an adult.  Again, if you aren’t sure how to navigate this, connect with professionals who can help!

One of the first thing in treating them as an adult is to not ride them about their schedule.  They’ve been a college student for the last eight months.  They know what they must do.  They will either get it done, or they won’t.  Your responsibility is not to ensure they are waking up and doing their work.  Your parental role is to leave your college student alone.  You need to see if they have the executive functioning skills and ability to successfully do this on their own.

Where I draw the line though is in making sure your young adult is not treating home like they’re on spring break.  If they aren’t doing school at all, that is a major red flag.  You can’t control the schedule they keep around academics, yet if they aren’t doing the work at all – that’s where the biggest concerns lie.  Especially if they are not only living at home and not doing schoolwork, but also not practicing social distancing and honoring sheltering at home orders.  They are home because of a public health epidemic.  This is not a time to catch up with your friends from high school, unless your practicing social distancing.  And we all know Gen Z isn’t practicing social distancing with their friends.

Outside of the academic scheduling and high school reunion, if your college student lets you know they’re struggling honor that.  Or if they aren’t telling you they’re struggling but you have a hunch that they are, also honor that.  A lot of colleges are still trying to offer support remotely.  That’s not the same.  They can find a college coach that’s not affiliated with their campus to help provide support though.  It’s better than nothing!  And worse case scenario, if they need to withdraw or request incompletes it’s important to understand the implications of this process.  With them being home, it’s hard to hide if they are failing their classes.  There is no room for shaming, and if you hold the boundary of no longer paying for their college education, they may find themselves much more motivated to become a full-time student.

And between all this madness, you must take care of yourself.  You weren’t planning on having your college student home for a couple months.  Parents are riddled with the combination of excitement, and sheer terror.  Make sure you are taking care of yourself in all of this.  And if you need guidance and support, don’t hesitate to find a professional to help support you during the next few months.  You didn’t sign up for this, just like your college student didn’t sign up for this.  Take care of yourself!  You deserve it!

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For questions or comments contact Joanna at 970-218-9958 or via email.


  • Joanna Lilley, MA, NCC

    Therapeutic Consultant / Young Adult Transition Specialist / College Success Coach

    Lilley Consulting

    After previously working at two institutions of higher education, specifically in Student Success & Retention, Joanna hung up her shingle to provide support for the flight of students leaving colleges campuses.  She now dedicates herself to working solely with emerging adults who unravel when they land on a college campus.  Her passion and drive is to coach this population back into good academic standing, or connect this population to mental health and substance abuse treatment programs that will provide stability, sobriety, and the executive functioning skills this population needs to move forward in life.  Most of her clients are currently enrolled on campus, or those who have already left feeling defeated.  With a magic wand, Joanna supports young adults with mental health issues with their the transition into adulthood and back into higher education.  Fear not, she works with the entire family system to help them heal and grow as this is not a "quick fix."  You can learn more about Lilley Consulting by checking out the website.  You can also listen to the Success is Subjective Podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or any podcast listening platform where she interviews individuals across the country who took a break during their emerging adulthood years.  This podcast is ideal for young adults or families members who are looking for hope and relief in supporting a loved one.  When not working with young adults, you will find Joanna writing or playing outdoors with her rescue pup in the mountains of western Colorado.