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Five Ways to Cope When Your Child Returns to the Nest

Final exams at Kansas University begin next week. My daughter, Caitlin, has been working very hard and will successfully complete her freshmen year in very good academic standing. Caitlin has learned a lot about being on her own and other important life skills, too.

However, she has already informed her mother and me that her car will be packed and she will be ready to pull out of Lawrence, Kansas and head back home as soon as she completes her last exam. While Mary Beth and I are looking forward to spending the summer with our daughter, we just hope her return to the nest will be equally successful.

In anticipation of her return home, my wife and I have been discussing how to embrace this change to our routine. We want the next few months to be happy and productive ones for the sake of the entire family. We have settled on these five ways to cope when our daughter comes home, again. I hope you will find these useful too:

  1. Establish Some Ground Rules.The first place to start is with establishing, and communicating, the fact that the house rules have not gone away even though Caitlin has been away from the house for the past 10 months. Things like curfew times, noise levels, keeping up with assigned household chores and friends coming over will all be redefined and enforced.

Being part of a family is a privilege. The ability to enjoy a comfortable home, food in the fridge, cable television and a computer with a fast Internet connection all come with responsibilities. The most fundamental of these responsibilities is to be accountable and to follow the family-approved rules. No one is exempt for these and there are no exceptions.



With that said, my wife and I still have a right to privacy and to our personal space. It’s important for all of us to have some personal space to retreat to when the need arises.





We invest so much time and effort in our children when they are young. This investment yields very, very favorable returns when we get to experience them as adults. The years of reading bedtime stories and believing in Santa Claus are indeed magical. The time spent talking about who should win the next presidential election over a cold beer can be just as delightful. Gradually, and without much notice, our children become our friends.

I’m looking forward to finding out more about the reasons behind Caitlin’s choice for president. I’m looking forward to nurturing an adult relationship with my daughter this summer.



Within a few days of her return home, we will quickly develop a new routine and grow accustomed to her new-found presence in the house. We will also need to help transition her back to her college life.

Shopping for new items for her apartment, gradually giving her more autonomy as the summer wanes into the fall, and planning the Thanksgiving holiday details when we will unite as a family again, are all things we can do to help with the transition from the nest and back into her independence.

Thomas Wolfe may suggest “you can’t go home again,” but you can welcome your child home again and begin building a new relationship that can be sustained for the rest of your lives together.


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