How is parenting an 18 year old different? BTDT?

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-28-2012
How is parenting an 18 year old different? BTDT?
25
Thu, 09-05-2013 - 10:30am

Our kiddos turned 18 last week and are seniors in HS.  I had someone ask me this week how things were now that the kids were "adults."  It was odd, I had not really thought of them as much different.  Curfew didn't change, bedtime didn't change and they still have homework, etc...  They can legally get tattoos and piercings (this is a trend, I really don't understand) and are legally responsible for all of their own actions.  I anticipate a fairly calm senior year - but who knows?  Any great BTDT advice for surviving the Senior of HS or living with mini adults?

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Community Leader
Registered: 07-26-1999
Thu, 09-05-2013 - 10:36am

People kept asking that this spring when my senior turned 18 and I just kept saying it was no different.  She wasn't treated any differently, luckily we never got any of the "well I am 18 and can do what i want" that i know other parents have gotten.  Yes, they are legally responsible for their actions, but I think as long as you have been preparing them all along that they are responsible for their actions, a birthday doesn't change that much.  The driving curfew by our city was lifted when she turned 18, and I was a bit more lax about her being out later than midnight this summer because she was never far from home and always with her BF and his parents most of the time, but her curfew was always more of a discretionary thing based on what she was doing and whom she was with.  Maybe some others have some BTDT advice, luckily for us, things haven't changed at all.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999

My son turned 18 on 9/1.  I think that since he's just starting his senior year in hs, the only big difference will be that he doesn't have to abide by the driving curfew (can't drive after 12:30 if you're under 18).  And now he can go to dr's appts. by himself.  It's funny--when DD (now 24) was in high school, the driving curfew was 12:00 and she always pushed the limit to the max, sometimes getting home at 12:05 or 12:10 and it would just make me nervous.  Then when she turned 18 she asked me what her curfew was and I said she didn't really have one, as long as she let me know where she was and she didn't go crazy & start coming in at 4:00 am or something like that.  The funny thing is that then she didn't feel that she always had to stay out until midnight--sometimes she'd even come home earlier if she was tired and she really didn't stay out later than 1:00 am.

Once she gave me the "I'm 18 and I can do what I want" line and I told her that she could do that if she moved to her own place and supported herself--she could really do whatever she wanted, but since I was supporting her and she was living in my house I could still have some veto power.  So I don't think she ever said that again.  My son is actually easier.  I am thinking about going away for the weekend & leaving him home alone since he could be living in his own place--I am not worried about him doing things like having a drinking party, which my DD actually did once when I went on vacation & she was supposed to be at her dad's.

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999

We never had any changes, either.  Our kids had gradually aquired both more responsibility, and more freedom, by being reliable, making mature decisions, following the rules and staying out of trouble.  Neither was in any tearing hurry to move out, because they both were very well aware of how far a dollar went.  They had been working and providing for their wants for years.

I think the kids who go nuts, are kids who were having problems before, or have parents who think that parenting ends the day their kids turn 18.  I have NEVER understood people who say, "Well they're 18 now.  There's not much you can do if you don't like their choices."  That's ridiculous.  My kids are in their 30's, and we still influence their choices.  Of course, they respect our input, and OCCASIONALLY, ask BEFORE it is given, LOL.

Avatar for suzyk2118
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-1997
Thu, 09-05-2013 - 2:35pm

Funny thing on the dr appts - ds (now 21) felt empowered when he got to call and make dr appts but then wanted to backtrack when he then had to fill out all the paperwork for specialists and such.  I said nope; you're the adult now; all on you.  (I helped if he needed it but NO one likes to fill all that stuff out!)

DH basically told ds once he turned 18 that now he's on his own; if he gets in trouble with the law, we're not bailing him out.  I think that put a teeny bit of fear into him but thankfully nothing has happened yet...

Sue

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998

Its no different unless they decide to play the "I'm 18 and can do what I want" card. Then they have to be reminded that they are "adults" being supported by other adults, they can do whatever they want when they are financially self sufficient. Both of my kids were done with HS before their 18th bdays so our situations were different than yours.

My ds turned 18 right before he started university, that summer we had already relaxed curfew and some other things in anticipation of him being basically unsupervised at college, and no major problems. I had a lot of problems with my dd when she turned 18 but we'd been having problems for a few years already so I didn't really expect them to disappear when she became technically an  adult. 

My advice for Senior year is, if you have been managing your kids, to step back so your teens have to assume more responsibility for self-management. They will need that skill if they go away to college or decide to move out of your house after HS.

Good luck!

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-08-2009
Thu, 09-05-2013 - 10:44pm

Great question and lots of great answers above!!!!

LOVE that term “mini adults.”

Hubby and I live with our 20 and 21 year old daughters and their husbands, who are the same ages. Starting with 9th grade they have all been taking classes together, with the exception of PE. So far, 18 and 21 have just been numbers, without much change.

It helps if your kid is NOT “hell on wheels.” And I think that in many cases that has much to do with the parents’ GOOD FORTUNE. I have known good parents with problem children and questionable parents with great children; some are parents on both ends of the spectrum with kids on both sides of the spectrum. Go figure!

I have also known parents whose kids go bonkers all of a sudden, just like Angie described her DD with provocative clothing and dancing and showing her panties. (I did not watch the video as I get jealous of young people with those gorgeous bodies. LOL)

I think you have to start early in preparing your kids for becoming responsible adults. This starts with them keeping their room clean, picking up their things and putting them away in their room, helping with chores like vacuuming, putting the dishes and cloths in the machines, etcetera. Doing work for extra money and learning the value of money, where it comes from, budgeting, differed gratification of saving for something, doing without other things, etcetera. Also important is the child developing the ability to set aside time to do homework before play time. What you hope for is that by mid teens you can start taking off the training wheels.

As a side point, I don’t think they have to be 18 or 21 to really screw up their lives. They can use drugs, get pregnant, rob convenience stores, and commit murder long before 18. And sadly some do. I bet it really sucks for a judge who has to send a 16 year old off to prison for forty years to life.

By 16 or 17 the cake is often baked and it is very difficult to change things at that point. What can happen is that the “school of hard knocks” can knock off some of those rough edges. That started happening to hubby and I at 21.

Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Fri, 09-06-2013 - 10:33am

It's no different from any other age change.  Parenting an 18yo is a bit different from parenting a 17yo, which is a bit different from parenting a 16yo, which is a bit different from parenting a 15yo, and so on, but none of them is a radical change from the year before.  I thought of my high school seniors as high school seniors, not adults at all, regardless of age.  As seniors, they're busy studying hard, applying to college, and having their best year of high school yet.

I NEVER have bought the "he's an adult now" concept.  18yos are NOT adults - certainly not in the way 28yos are.  Brain development continues into the mid-20s - science has shown that.  Therefore expecting them to make good decisions simply because of the date on the calendar is foolish and an abdication of responsiblity.  Just my opinion, and not that I thought *you* were going to. ;)

The real transition is to college.  Last month, before my DD started her freshman year of college, I sat down and went through expenses with her, so she would know what we pay for while she's a student and what she has to pay for.  I gave her an estimate of how much of her summer savings seemed reasonable to spend each month, and on what.  And I told her that I consider her a "mostly dependent young adult," since she is not in a position to provide for her own food, shelter, clothing, or medical care.  I think she liked that description, because it describes her in relationship to her family, which after all has provided everything for her during her entire life.

21yo DS, OTOH, is on the verge of becoming a "mostly independent young adult," a description he likes too.  When he graduates college in 9 months, we will expect him to provide for his own food and shelter.  If he doesn't have a job or internship, then he will have to come back home where our only cost will be to feed him while he looks for a job and applies to grad school.  I told him that I don't expect him to be a "fully independent young adult" until he is done with grad school and gainfully employed - probably not for another 4 years.

For both of them, calling them "young adults" creates a meaningful distinction between what they are and what a 40yo is.  It helps both them and us to recognize that.

Hope that perspective helps.

Avatar for suzyk2118
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-1997
Fri, 09-06-2013 - 1:10pm

I like those - might use the descriptions on ds21 but he's still at the mostly dependent young adult stage as we're paying for his college and grad school (he just pays gas and his fun money). He *thinks* he's more the independent level but to him that just means he grocery shops (on our dime), does his laundry, takes care of his lodgings...um, not the same as independent!

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-28-2012

Thanks so much for all of the great input - it lines up really well with what I think we have experienced, and hopefully will continue to experience.  The kids all have jobs and are responsible for some of their own expenses which has gone a long ways to helping them understand how  costly things can be.  It's amazing how everyone orders water when we eat out now - lol.  Currently working on learning to "let go" some.  They have gotten to drive a couple of hours away to visit friends and go to a baseball game.  Curfew is more flexible as long as they let us know what they are doing and I seldom remind anyone to do homework - they understand grades and class rank by now.  I love the terms "mostly dependent and independent young adults."  Perfect descriptions!  My child who streatches our parenting skills is getting a tattoo this weekend.  Can't say either DH or I love this choice, but he had a surgery and long rehab 2 years ago and it was a goal he set to remind him of how far he had come, and how hard he worked.  He dealt with that like an adult when he was 16 and this tattoo is not the battle that I want to use extra resources fighting.   Thanks again for reading and responding !

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999

My son is talking about getting a tattoo as well--I can't do much about it and I'm not paying for it.  Luckily what he says he wants is a small one.  I think it's something like the symbol for infinity--don't ask me why.  What really shocked me was when DD got a tattoo--I thought she'd be the last person since she's very girly and loves fashion.  She got 3 pink stars on the top of her foot, so not that bad.

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