How Do You Parent An 18-Year-Old?
Turning 18 and becoming a young adult is a big deal for most people, and it’s probably an even bigger deal when the person turning 18 is your son or daughter. When a child turns 18 there is a over-sensing urge for your child to want to distance themselves from you or want some “adult” independence. The real question at hand is – are they truly independent, meaning that they can live independently and support themselves or are they still in some capacity dependent? They are still a young adult, because in the eyes of our legal system, the age of 18 is an age of consent to be an “adult”; however, in reality and practicality, they are a young adult that is still dependent on support and resources and therefore, parental guidelines can be very useful. Try these steps in order to manage your young adult still living at home: 1. It is your house still. You bought it, you paid for it, and you keep it up and pay the bills. You are still in charge as long as they are still living under your roof. You have to let your young adult know that they are welcome in your home, as part of the family, and that you are still their parents and you still set the rules. 2. Set house rules. Don’t be unreasonable, but set some rules that are non-negotiable. Rules such as no smoking, drinking or using drugs; making major changes in a room – such as wall paint; driving cars without permission. You can also make negotiable rules like which of their friends you are willing to house, and how often; who does what laundry; and the general running of the household. By setting rules you will remind them that you are still in charge and that their newfound adulthood doesn’t change that. 3. Tell them to be considerate. Let your child know that your home is not a flop house and that they should leave kitchens and bathrooms clean; that they can’t just take control of the electronics; and that they should refrain from disrespectful language. Tell them that they should never cause dissention among family members by having a bad attitude. Also tell them that you expect to be told their schedule, and when they will or won’t be home, and that it’s only because you care for them and don’t want to worry. They may be 18 and an “adult” but you’ll never stop worrying about them – and let’s hope they can recognize that they too need to consider your feelings as a parent. 4. Tell them they must contribute in some way. It’s only fair. You don’t enquire rent from them (although you could) but since you are loving parents all you do expect is that they contribute. Mow the lawn, do the laundry or vacuum. Get creative and find something that will help the whole family out. Tell them that you would appreciate it and that they will feel a little less like the dependent little kid who still lives at home. Let them know that if they don’t contribute on their own, you will give them chores just like you did when they were younger. 5. Inform them they can leave when the arrangement doesn’t suit them. Make sure to tell them you love them and that they are welcome to live under your protection and provision, as long as they are responsible and cooperative. You are providing for them out of parental love, and their acceptance of your support obliges them to adhere to certain arrangements. Their age allows them to leave anytime they aren’t happy. As your child grows older you have to set different kinds of rules; and once your child becomes an adult they are less likely to listen like they use to. So it’s up to you to have a conversation with your young adult about what expect from them. Turning 18 can make them feel a sense of freedom, but if they are still living at home and hence, not truly independent they need to still be living by your rules. Have an open conversation with your child about the realities of adulthood, the difference between being truly independent (on one’s own without the need of support, primarily financial) and being dependent, which can vary in level of support but a clear example is living at home. Be sure to express to your children how much you love and care about them and that your ultimate goal is to raise your children/young adults to be able to be independent and successful in achieving their goals. – and you are just helping to make that happen.