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My Kid Wants to Come Home From College

As the parent of a college-bound child, my husband and I did everything within our power to help him find a campus that was the right fit academically, socially and geographically. Once he made his selection, we hit the stores, determined to outfit his dorm room with all of the essentials required to make it a home away from home.

As The Big Farewell approached, my dread grew exponentially with his excitement. After moving him into his room and making his bed for one last time, we finally said our goodbyes.

Turns out he and his roommate aren’t destined to be the compadres my son thought they would be.

Not wanting to rain on his long-anticipated independence day parade, I bit my quivering lip and wished him well. Then, I did what any other self-respecting mother would do: I bawled in the privacy of my car.

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As I was dabbing my nose, I watched him scamper off with the rest of the “newbies,” bound for a week’s worth of fun activities designed to acclimate them to the campus and keep them from feeling the pangs of separation. Since our son had been on dozens of camping trips throughout his scouting career, some lasting as long as two weeks, my husband and I didn’t think twice about his ability to manage on his own.

His first few phone calls home were brief. He was always too busy to talk, diving into his classes and meeting new people. At one point he even blurted out, “I’m probably going to stay here over Thanksgiving break.”

Ouch.

So, imagine my surprise when he called us a couple of weeks later.

“I want to come home.”

Confused, I asked, “For this coming weekend?”

“No. For good.”

It felt like the floor dropped out beneath me. My mind raced. I groped for the right thing to say. I decided to start with the basics and asked what was going on.

Turns out he and his roommate aren’t destined to be the compadres my son thought they would be, after all.

I tried to be empathetic. “No, you’re right. Late night video game playing and sleep do not mix.”

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I suggested earphones for the roommate and earplugs for my son. His reply? “We tried that already.”

I prodded him for more examples. Struggling to think of any, he simply repeated, “I want to come home.”

Short of squeezing myself through the phone lines so I could hug him and tell him to hang in there, I came up with a game plan.

First, I urged him to give it one more month. By then, I figured they would have to establish some respectable boundaries and routines that would enable the both of them to interact civilly, if not amicably.

Second, I suggested that he branch out and find other friends that had similar interests and study habits.

Lastly, I let him know it was OK to consider getting a single room in the future if it should come to that.

Popping a batch of his favorite cookies in the mail, I included a note reminding him that Thanksgiving break would be here before he knew it. Who knows? Maybe spending a week at home will remind him why he wanted to go away to college in the first place. Time will tell.

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