My oldest graduated high school last June and I’m finding myself in very unfamiliar territory. For so long, we were in the routine of school and carpooling and he had a reasonable curfew. Now that he is eighteen and taking some time to figure out what he wants to do with his life and what he wants to be when he grows up, I get to watch his life unfold.
He decided against college and is instead working full time in the trades — something he opted to do because it felt organic and right to him at this time in their life. I am more than happy to be living with my high school graduate but that doesn’t mean the rules have flown out the window and his life is now a free-for-all.
Eight rules for my high school grad living at home
1. You will work
You don’t have to choose the career you want for the rest of your life, but I think most parents would agree with me when I say if you aren’t in school, or heading up a charitable cause, you have to get to work.
Working will help you build skills, figure out what you want to do with your life, teach you how to manage money, give you important life experiences. It can help you get a thicker skin and build character so I don’t care if you change jobs seventeen times this year but working is a must.
If sitting around on your phone playing video games is what you want to do you can figure out how to do it elsewhere. I love you, but this is not a way of life, at least, not in my house.
2. You will join the rest of the family for dinner a few times a week
I realize you need more freedom because how else are you going to learn to manage your time, figure out when you need to get to bed so you are rested for your workday, and how to navigate the real world? When I went to college at your age, I was on my own, completely. The only adult supervision I had was my teachers and the complex coordinator who lived in the building and honestly, I wouldn’t call that supervision.
I want you to grow into your own person, but remember, this isn’t just a place to sleep and grab food and go. You live here and we want to see your face every once in a while so a few dinner dates a week isn’t too much to ask.
3. You will let me know where you are
No, you don’t have a curfew but I want to know where you are at night. Whether it’s at a friend’s house, the gym or you want to jaunt out for a late-night food run, just let your mom know okay?
I still worry, and it’s important to let me know where you are for safety precautions and because when you live with someone, it’s common courtesy to let them know your comings and goings in a general way.
4. You will be responsible for all car expenses
Your car gives you a lot of freedom and since you are eighteen and not in school full time, there’s no reason why you can’t cover these expenses. From gas to repairs, this bill is yours. It’s a small stepping stone in teaching you how to budget your money and plan for the future. The beautiful thing here is you get to have whatever car or truck you want, so long as you can afford it.
5. You will be held accountable for your mistakes
Yes, you are eighteen and almost an adult, but you are not twenty-one. There are many things you simply can’t do yet and just because you don’t have a curfew doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want.
You are not above the law so you will abide by it. I’m not going to bail you out of trouble. Drive responsibly, don’t do anything that’s illegal, and please remember that, although you may think differently, you are not invincible.
If you decide to show up late to work, or not go in at all because of decisions you made the night before that’s on you. I am your mother but I will not make excuses for your behavior, call in sick for you, or do any other favors to help you out if you’ve willingly made a bad choice.
6. You will be patient with me while I watch you turn into an adult
This is hard for me. I am used to being your mother full time, not just here and there which is what it feels like right now. I know you don’t need me to remind you to eat or help you with homework. Many days you are at work for eight hours, then you are going to the gym and out with friends for dinner. I miss you. I miss us. And yet I know this is a transition that is supposed to take place so you can find your own life.
That doesn’t mean it’s easy for me, so be patient while I try and work through my own emotions and feelings about the fact that I have a man as a son now.
7. You will (please) come to me if you need help
Just because I will make you right your own wrongs doesn’t mean I don’t want you to come to me. I can offer you support, a listening ear, advice, and I will always be your safe place. We always need our parents in some way. Don’t forget that.
8. You will have chores as long as you live here
I know you aren’t here as much and you are working, but you still live here and I expect you to chip in. That means keeping your room clean, doing your own laundry, and doing your part with a few household chores. At eighteen, this is considered your rent fee and if you ask me, it’s a very good deal.
I know things are going to change very soon and it won’t be long until you are out from under my roof and completely on your own. But there needs to be some kind of a transition period and so far, these eight rules have helped me (and my son).