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Summer Survival: 5 Ways to Navigate the Loss of Independence at Home

So you’re struggling with the loss of independence at home? Let’s try to fix that.

College student happy at university and depressed at home.
Illustration by Jack William Arnold

The start of summer can be bittersweet. The relief of classes ending eases the anxiety of leaving your friends and college town. Your daily schedule is freed from the constraints of class times. Summer is the break you’ve been needing. But now, you’re back to your childhood home, which often comes with rules that you’re not used to anymore.

Students studying at a school away from their hometown may know this feeling well. Parents are holding onto feeling like parents, and you’re holding onto feeling like an adult.

Visiting home for a weekend is much different than 3 months. This transition can be confusing; making you unsure of whether to feel nostalgic or trapped.


counting down the days!!!!! ☺️ #college

♬ som original – biel real

As someone typically overly nostalgic, I’m new to embracing my independence at school. Just when I got used to my college lifestyle, summer started. I love home but for the first time, I feel anxious to be back. Home feels like it’s bringing my movement towards adulthood to a pause.

This summer, a piece of my heart seemed to stay in my college town.

Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon struggle among young adults. To help navigate it, I’ve devised 5 ways to work through the loss of independence at home; advice I’m working on following myself.

1. Communicate

A mother and daughter talking about the transition back home from college.
Credit: Pexels/Katrin Bolovtsova

As hard as it may be to believe, your parents are likely feeling a similar anxiety as you.

They’re eager to have you home but expect a change in behavior with your recent independence. It’s easy to block your parents out of your daily life to recreate that feeling of freedom. I challenge you to communicate with them instead.

I know this is much easier said than done.

Try expressing to your parents how much you love college. Let them know what you’re involved in, tell them about your new friends, and give them insight into your young adult life. Let them gauge how you’re doing on your own. The little details let them know that you’re capable without their rules.

Tell your parents the household rules you hope to adjust in adulthood. When presenting this topic it’s vital to step into your parents’ shoes. Are they defensive and reactive? Calm and open-minded? Approach them appropriately. Show your readiness through your tone and reactions.

2. Set boundaries

Man gesturing stop to represent boundaries for the transition back home.
Credit: Pexels/Monstera Production

Boundaries are the key to a healthy dynamic.

Reflect on the current relationship with your parents. Recognize where boundaries may be necessary and decide what is most important to you.

In college, you adjust to doing certain things by yourself. You are likely used to managing your money, schedule, and personal decisions. Your parents may feel entitled to make those decisions while you’re home.

Some possible boundaries to set are:

  • You make financial decisions on your own
  • You make plans without permission, but consideration (say this one extra sweetly)
  • You’re open to input but not control regarding personal decisions

It is important to be clear and confident when setting these boundaries. Don’t allow for any confusion. This conversation can transform your independence at home.

3. Demonstrate maturity

Girl walking dog to demonstrate maturity.
Credit: Pexels/Vitaly Gariev

It’s time to prove the maturity you’ve been claiming to have.

When considering your readiness for more independence, your parents will likely reflect on how you demonstrate responsibility. When allowed to make choices on your own, do you act thoughtfully?

There are a handful of ways to show them you’re ready. Take initiative. Do things that are typically asked of you, before being asked. This especially pertains to household chores.

Show responsibility by maintaining a job or arriving on time to events. Show it by taking care of your pet or keeping your space clean. Prioritize commitments. Demonstrate that you can handle your schedule and remember each commitment independently.

When or if they do become more lenient, prove that you can handle it.

4. Set parental boundaries with dating

College student trying to go on a date but is being spied on by parents.
It can be frustrating trying to get your parents to respect your boundaries, especially with dating. Illustration by Kaitlin Morton

First, accept that this step is going to be awkward.

If you’re in a relationship while at home, this might be the most uncomfortable part of the transition. At school, you and your partner have the luxury of doing whatever you want. Sleepovers and date nights are all your own choice and timing.

Adding someone else’s guidance to the mix can complicate things. You probably can’t do certain activities at home without telling your parents…awkward. This dynamic means a brand new set of expectations is necessary.

Sit down with your partner and decide what is most important to your relationship. To develop mutual respect with your parents consider establishing:

  • How much information you share with your parents about the relationship
  • A need for privacy when at home
  • Expectations for curfews, outings, and/or sleepovers

Prepare responses for possible questions asked. This is a conversation worth having if you have hesitant family members. Claim your independence at home! You got this!

5. Prioritize self care

Young woman doing skin care to prioritize self care.
Credit: Pexels/Ron Lach

Take care of yourself.

We’ve mentioned managing money and schedules independently; don’t forget about the fun stuff. Keeping up with your hobbies and interests is key to your well-being. These things can give you that independent feeling again.

It’s easy to prioritize other people. Every ounce of your free time is filled with commitments you just “couldn’t say no to.” You have to take back your schedule.

Incorporate at least one thing that you can enjoy alone into each day.

There are so many activities that can clear your mind. Go on a long drive. Find a new hobby. Take an everything shower. Listen to your favorite songs. Anything that makes you happy. These plans are often the first to go when our schedule fills up.

This leisure time gives you a taste of independence and control. Hanging out by yourself can be where you find freedom while at home.

Girl sitting in her childhood room.
Credit: Pexels/cottonbro studio

I’m sure some of you are in your childhood bedroom as you read this. Think about who you were when this was still your only home. What made you happy?

There was a time when this suffocating feeling was just normal. Going on a drive was the closest thing to independence you had. How did you handle it?

Tap into your younger self. Embrace that nostalgic feeling. Do those little things that used to make your day.

I hope this guide can smooth the transition back home. But if not, just remember,

Sometimes it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission.

My big sisters!
Written By

I am a junior at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Earning a bachelor's degree in journalism, a business minor, and a digital marketing certificate.

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