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Ah, the battle cry of the “almost adult”! Parents all around the country cringe when they try to enforce a family rule, only to be met with their 17-and-a-half-year-old’s shout: “Soon, you won’t be able to control me at all!”

Is that true? Are all bets off once your child reaches that golden age of eighteen?

The answer is yes and no. (Mostly no.) It’s true that when your child reaches the age of eighteen, they are legally seen as an adult and are legally responsible for their own behavior instead of their parents. They can’t break laws, of course – being 18 just means you can be tried as an adult, not that you’re free to do anything you please.

What concerns many parents is how much control they can have over their child once they reach 18, and many parents abdicate all authority once their kids are no longer minors. So how can you tell your child what to do when he’s legally an adult? The truth is, no matter how old your child, you have the right to enforce the rules of your house. Your 18-eighteen-year-old has to follow the rules just as much as your 4-year-old does. Of course, as kids get older, they can earn more privileges, and have more responsibility, but the age factor does not give them an excuse to be abusive (verbally or physically) or disrespectful. Your house rules are your house rules. And as James Lehman says, there’s never any excuse for abuse – no matter how old someone is.

In EP’s three part series on adult children, James describes how many parents get sucked into feeling like they owe their child a place to live, or food to eat. In fact, many older children begin to treat their parents’ home as though it were a hotel. Teens have an error in their thinking when they believe that turning 18 suddenly means they can do whatever they want. That “thinking error” shows up in many ways, often around issues of school or good grades. If they don’t want to go to school, they’ll say “I’m almost 18, you can’t make me.” Or, “As soon as I turn 18, I’m going to quit and you can’t stop me.”

Both of those statements are true. You can’t force your child to go to school, and you can’t stop them from quitting once they’re 18. You can, however, enforce a family rule. If you believe your child should finish high school, tell them, “You’re right. I can’t force you to go, and I can’t stop you from quitting. However, the rule in this house is that you graduate from high school, or you get a full time job and pay rent. The choice is up to you.” If they come back at you with “Okay, I’ll move out then,” you may just need to let that comment slide. Teens often challenge your rules by threatening you with leaving, trying to get you to give in to their demands.

A more appropriate response to that kind of comment would be: “That’s not what I want to see happen. However, you do need to find a way to comply with the rules as long as you live here.” Then, walk away. Your child might be so shocked by your reply that they’ll find a way to comply with your rules.

Remember, the rules are the rules — and the rules of your house remain the rules of your house no matter how old your child. This needs to be stated clearly and firmly. Your house rules should reflect your morals and values, and provide a safe environment for everyone in the home. For example, no stealing or lying will be tolerated in your home. Curfews need to be met. Basic hygiene and respect for others’ property is expected. No drugs or alcohol, especially if the child is still under legal drinking age. You may have other rules to add to this list. If your 18 or older child is living in your house, they need to abide by your rules, or face the consequences for breaking those rules. Sit down together and talk about your rules and your expectations.

Once you’ve had this discussion, you can sidestep all those cries of “You can’t make me.” When your child challenges you with “I’m almost 18, you can’t tell me what to do,” the most effective response is: “You’re right. I can’t tell you what to do outside of this house. But while you’re here, you do need to comply with my rules. You don’t have to like them, but you do have to find a way to follow them.” Don’t engage in a power struggle over who’s right or wrong, and don’t argue with their faulty thinking patterns and entitlement. If they break the rules, follow through with the consequence for breaking those rules. Remember, whether your child is 5 years old, or over 18, your home is your home, and your rules are your rules. Once they’re 18, you can’t control all their choices,  but you can create a safe, and somewhat peaceful, home environment. Good luck!

Megan Devince LCPC is a Parental Support Line Advisor for the Total Transformation Program. If you are a Total Transformation customer, you can access the Parental Support Line for help with these and other challenges you’re experiencing with your child.


If you find any comments that are rude or inappropriate, please contact us immediately.

  • judy Says:

    what do parents say to a 16year old who says it is unconstitutional to drug test a kid at home?
    He had a positive test once, we tested another time and it was negative but we want to keep it that way ?

  • Carole Banks, Parental Support Line Advisor Says:

    Dear Judy:

    You might say that you are willing to do anything to keep him safe, that drug use is very dangerous and you are very serious about this. James Lehman says that when you participate in risky behavior, you have lost your right to privacy. There a great web site with more information for parents at

    Stay strong and keep in touch.

  • Phil Says:

    What about an 18-year-old (projecting ahead two years for the 16-year-old) who refuses to obey and refuses to leave. How do you have that one evicted — which it looks like we’ll have to do in two years.

    And what if the sub-18-year old continues to steal (have to sleep with credit card)?

  • Sue Says:

    What does a single mom do with a 19-yr-old who refuses to get a job or go back to college (after what I thought was a successful 1st year) and just sits on the couch playing his laptop all day every day? He is up very late and then sleeps in late and this just repeats day after day–he was in the top of his class, got a scholarship, was socially active–he of course denies addiction to his games, or depression–I think he is afraid of responsibility. He did have a part-time job during high school. WHEN I can get him to talk at all he says he doesn’t know what he wants to do–of course his friends are all away going on with their lives—he won’t go talk to anyone and I can’t pick him up and take him anywhere! HELP!

  • Elisabeth Wilkins, EP Editor Says:

    Dear Phil and Sue: We have a series of articles on EP by James Lehman that I’d like to recommend: it’s called, “Rules, Boundaries and Older Children”. The three articles in the series address many of the issues you both bring up in your comments. Here’s the link:

    Start with the first article, which is at the bottom of the page. Good luck to you both!

  • mandy Says:

    Regarding: judy Says: April 8th, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    what do parents say to a 16year old who says it is unconstitutional to drug test a kid at home?

    Actually, what you can do varies by jurisdiction. Generally, it’s a matter of statute and case law, not a matter of the constitution. In Pennsylvania, once a child reaches age 16, they can refuse any and all drug testing. Period.
    For example, there was a 16 yo heroin addict who refused drug testing and drug counseling, just because she could. The only way around the situation was to have her become involved in the criminal justice system. In other words, she had to commit an offense under the law, get caught and convicted, and have judge order drug testing and participation in counseling.
    We no longer live in Pennsylvania.
    Find out what the laws are in your jurisdiction so that your family rules don’t blow up in your face. Once you know the laws, you know where you stand under the law when you stand up for keeping your child safe.

  • Cat Says:

    Boy, do I have a comment. Here is a classic 18 year old story. My son is not even 18, his birthday is in 2 weeks, and he has already informed his Dad and I that he was going to leave the wilderness high school he is successfully attending, for smoking pot, and moving to Costa Rica to surf the rest of his life away. He told us there is no way he is going to go back next year to finish his senior year.
    My husband and I were so worried about our son and almost brought him home for next year, while the program he is attending insists that he is not ready to come home yet. What a hard decision, but the program directors insisted that it was manipulation. My husband and I decided to listen to the directors and not buy into his manipulation, to send him back next year to finish what he has started! Fast forward to this past weekend, My husband and I went out to Montana to spend Easter with our son, and shared with him our plans. After a couple of hours of him digesting the fact that he has no other alternative. He has come to accept this. He even shared with us that he had no intention of ever running away. I told him that it shows how much he has matured in just sharing that with his Dad and I. That I was very proud of him making a responsible decision. We are no longer enabling unacceptable behavior, and it is paying off big time. This is for every parent out there. The only thing you owe your kids is love and love alone!!!!!!!!!!!! Sometimes love is saying “NO”.

  • mom of 5 Says:

    Hi, my husband and I have struggled with our very disrespectful teens, Our oldest just turned 18 and figures she is old enough to do anything she wants. Just because she is an “adult.” She lies, helps herself to anyones belongings just because she feels she deserves to have what she wants, when she wants. She uses her family friends and anyone willing to allow her to take advantage of them. She keeps a job only long enough to get a paycheck and spends it all on herself regardless of how much she owes for rent and food. She bounces from one place to another taking full advantage until she exhausts that outlet and moves on to the next, She has learned to manipulate her family friends relatives with her coniving feel sorry for me the victim stance. And thus the cycle begins. Our oldest boy 15 sees this behaviour and figures it works for her it can work for him. My husband and I definately have given in to our daughters games and are truly frustrated, disapointed and embarrased that she treats not only ourselves inapropriately but is very rude and disrepectful to others. It has gotten to the point we don’t want to include her in family functions and holiday get togethers. Because she will turn our get togethers into complete chaos and embarrasment.She only wants to be apart of these functions for the free food and gifts and makes it very known these are her only intentions. It is truly pathetic. After including her this last easter holiday. My husband and I feel we are not wanting her attend anymore functions with us as a family. As her behaviour never changes dispite us laying out the family rules and her being in agreement. Within a day it all changes to focussing on her needs her wants and to heck with everyone elses needs or wants. Very selfcentered individual. I am @ a loss I love my daughter, not liking the behaviour. I am including her out of guilt and not trusting her knowing our home will be empty while we travel on holidays. Our younger siblings are 2 year old twins and a three year old who adores his big sister. I am concerned about her foul language her inapropriate disrespectful behaviours in front of them as well. Any suggestions?

  • Michele Says:

    I am responding to Mom of 5.
    Do not allow any disrespectful behavior that will lead to compromising your values of your home. Write down the rules and especially to the 18 year old, direct them to her. She should not be allowed in your home or family get togethers with her behavior. If she doesn’t want to comply to your rules of a good family, she doesn’t belong with you. Pack her things in plastic bags and tell her until she wants to accept these loving rules of the family, she can’t be around. It worked for us after a year battle over the same thing. Our daughter left, and returned with a new appreciation of our love and rules. It was hard with her in the house and difficult to be without her. Those years were like a rollercoaster, but not no more. We all agree we will NEVER go back to the old ways of disrespect.

  • Annie Says:

    Hi, I am writing for some advice. Our daughter, 19, has just returned from her second year at college. She has a history of BiPolar Disorder (supposedly, don’t know if I totally believe that) and violence. She has trashed our house (in the past), defaced property, smashed our things; etc. to get her way on things. We have had to call the cops several times (they pretty much didn’t do anything!) and also Mobile Mental Health (last year she didn’t get out of bed for the whole first week she was home for the summer, also only took one shower and one bath in that time period, she would get up at 10 or 11 pm and wake us up for stupid reasons (to get the code for the TV for locked channels, to start an argument about going out at midnite/1 am with her friend; etc. she refused to go to psych appt so we called Mobile Mental Health (they convinced her to go the hospital and get her meds changed.) This didn’t do much, the one med made her practically comatose! She is now off all meds and claims that she doesn’t have rages anymore (which is true, she hasn’t has an episode in eight months). She was failing quite a few classes in her freshman year, but now her grades have improved. I really believe that she is trying to do better. She even got a job for the summer but it doesn’t start for about a week. In the meantime, she is falling back into her old pattern of sleeping all day (and I mean all day…didn’t get up til 6pm yesterday…we both kept trying to wake her up, but she ignored us and then when she did get up she refused to take a shower/bath until we were ready to go to bed at 10pm. She then was crashing around in the kitchen, living room and her old room (which is across the hall from ours…she moved to the guest room downstairs a couple of years ago because we couldn’t sleep with the light on all night, even with the door closed, the light would come through…plus when she would leave the room she banged the door no matter how many times we asked her to stop…anyway…)Lights were turned on and off, then I heard her outside on the driveway going through her car (she was looking for her hairbrush!!! At 1 am!) Not to mention we have special locks on the doors because she snuck out of the house once a few years ago and she took the lock apart to get out to her car. My husband is so angry with her he has already told her that if this behavior continues she has to get out. This terrifies me! First of all, I really don’t want her to get out…she is basically a good kid, doesn’t drink, smoke, or fool around with guys. As I said before, she is trying harder to do well in school and did get a job. Second of all, I know that if my husband tells her to get out, she won’t. She has nowhere to go. I know that he will go so far as to get the cops involved. I really don’t want this!! I don’t want her to hate us for the rest of our lives and I don’t want the embarrassment of the cops coming to our house again! Please help! I don’t know what else to do. Our 15 year old sees her sister getting away with this behavior (sleeping all day, etc) and tries it, but she is more social so responds to grounding. But she is resentful now because she says we have a double standard, and I agree with her, but I just don’t want to set my other daughter off on a rage so I keep giving in to her demands. She doesn’t do anything to help out in the house and when I ask, she ignores me or claims that she is not feeling well. She will take her sister to dr. appts if I ask (when I am working), she has done this in the past and never put up an argument. It also seems to me that my husband hates her. No matter what she does or how hard she tries his opinion doesn’t change. He claims he doesn’t hate her, he hates the behavior. Then why when she is doing the right thing (getting A’s in school) does he brush it aside and still concentrate on the old behaviors. PLEASE HELP!

  • ellan Says:

    But dont you think that if you try to enforce so many rules and things your child must abide to, you will eventaully push them away. You dont want your child to be so scared and worried that they can’t talk to you about anything. Like say if your 15 year old daughter wanted to tell you she was having sex and she is being sensible about it but is too scared to, in fear you’l stop her seeing her sexual partner and will never understand. In my opinion setting so many rules and thing’s a teenager must abide to will only push them away and make them think even more that when they are 18 they can do what ever they want. Then when they reach this age they mnight go a little crazy indulging in the fact they are finally free and this is clearly the wrong message to send out to your child/ren. Of course there must be some rules and regulations in place in your household your child/ren must follow. You dont want to scare your child so much they cant tell you anything. Every mother should want a comfortable and strong relationship with their child/ren where they can talk to their parents about things. A parent should be realistic towards ideas such as sex, you can’t stop it and you can’t stop your child seeing their partner over it. You should be able to talk to your child about this matter and offer them the support and care they need along with as telling them and informing them on the responsibility needed and how to be sensible. You can set guidelines and ways of life for your child/ren to follow but you can’t obsess over this, as growing up a child needs space to develop who they are and find there way in life rather than being told and forced to be something they are not.

  • EP Blog: Our Top Ten Posts of 2009! | Says:

    [...] When Your Teen Says, “I’m Almost 18–You Can’t Tell Me What to Do!” by Megan Devine, Parental Support Line [...]

  • May Says:

    Just a couple of comments regarding drug testing and older teenagers who refuse to act responsibly at home.
    When my son was in high school, he was experimenting with drugs – to what extent we don’t know. He maintained good grades and was on the varsity tennis team. However, we told him that he would be drug tested and he’d never know when his dad would demand it. If he tested positive for drugs, certain privileges were taken away but if the tests were negative, we told him we’d buy him a video game. He liked that idea and then asked if he could request drug testing and so we said sure.
    He was living with his dad, step mom, brother and 3 step brothers so they were all subject to the testing. I don’t know if he ever requested a drug test (he’s 28 now) but the positive aspect helped him accept the threat of negative consequences. Even though I wasn’t living with him, he knew that his dad and I were united on him acting responsibly.
    I hear lots of parents call Dr. Laura about their 18 year old + teenagers who think they can take advantage of their parents. A parent’s job is to make sure their kids learn responsibility – even if that means kicking them out of the house. If they think they are adult enough to live by their own rules, then they must accept the responsibility of providing for themselves. It’s part of natural consequences.
    Google Discipline Without Stress and read about the 4 levels of responsibility. As an educator, I have used the system with all ages and it helps. One of the biggest plusses is that it causes the child/teenager/adult to quickly analyze their behavior. Just by recognizing which of the 4 levels a behavior is leads to improved responsibility.

  • April Says:

    I have an 18 year old daughter with medical problems that require medication every day. She refuses to go to school, or to get a job. She is disrespectful, and holds her medical condition over my head in case I threaten to put her out of the house. I have stated my house rules including going to school or getting a job and paying rent, but it falls on deaf ears. What are my options as far as consequences for her defiance besides kicking her out of my house? Help!

  • Says:

    Dear April:

    Remember that in James Lehman’s Total Transformation Program, consequences are only one part of a larger system that changes behavior. A much more important part of that system is helping your child to learn how to problem solve.

    It’s important to have structure in the day and set limits with kids. This teaches kids that there are rewards and consequences in life for the choices they make. In addition, in order for consequences to work, you have to offer rewards or else your consequences just become punitive. Try to think of an incentive for your daughter to encourage her to work toward finishing school or to seek employment. This can be a daily incentive earned for spending time working toward her goals.

    Don’t forget the Support Line is available to assist you in applying the techniques from James Lehman’s Total Transformation Program.

  • momofLexi Says:

    I adopted a daughter when she was 7 months old. In 2 wks she will be 17. The last couple years have been stressful and frustrating, causing my heath to go downhill. She has severe asthma yet I constantly catch her smoking. The consequences are , she is “Unplugged”. Which means no phone, computer, video games etc. A week ago she became unplugged again due to severe disrespect. I noticed that unlike other times when she was unplugged she was spending an unusual amount of time in her room. Usually when she is unplugged she spends more time with me. Then I started hearing her up at all hours of the night. So I went to check her room and found a computer under her pillow. I have no idea who’s computer it is, but she has been going online all the time despite the fact that she is on consequence right now. Also right next to the computer was a pack of cigarettes. I don’t know what to do anymore. I’m sick of fighting with her. In July she is supposed to go on a mission trip with her youthgroup. I’m wondering if I should take this away from her. I hate to since it’s a good thing, but I’m at a loss of what to do next. She refuses to keep her grades up and I’m paying dearly so she can repeat the classes online so she can graduate. Please help.

  • Sara Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor Says:

    To ‘momoflexi’: It’s so frustrating for a parent to discover that their child is sneaking around their consequences and continuing to engage in behavior that is not allowed. It might be helpful to talk to her doctor about the effects of smoking in someone who has severe asthma and also discuss some smoking cessation options she might try. It might also be helpful to stop giving your daughter cash so that she can’t get cigarettes as easily. My guess is people will not want to buy them for her, and she won’t be able to buy them, if she doesn’t have the money. Regarding the mission trip, that sounds like a wonderful opportunity for her and we don’t recommend using things as consequences if they can’t be earned back. Ultimately, or course, it’s up to you. My guess is, though, that losing the trip would cause a lot of resentment and it would not teach her how to stop smoking or how to follow your rules. Here are a couple of articles I think will be helpful: My Child Is Using Drugs or Drinking Alcohol—What Should I Do? & Risky Teen Behavior: Can You Trust Your Child Again? We wish you luck as you work through this. Take care.

  • DC Says:

    My 17 year old daughter doesn’t want to abide by the house rules of coming in on time. Matter of fact she stayed out all night and stated that she’ll go to school the next day and won’t be home until the that night [we had purchased her a car 1 year ago but definitely will take it away when she does come back home]. She stated that I’m a “traumatized mom” and she’s tired of arguing. But the arguing comes from her defying the rules in house. Thank You!

  • abzmomof5 Says:

    It’s spring break week, and Tuesday I spent the entire day with my children taking them shopping, running errands for my 18 year old (10 days after her 18th birthday), and taking them to lunch… My 18 year old wanted to go to the pet store to look at fish stuff, so all 7 of us went. She was walking around with her daddy, looking at fish stuff and realized she didn’t have the money for all the stuff she needed (got paid $51 on this day and only had about $99 to her name), plus fish… I was walking around with 2 of my other children looking at everything, including the humane society cats that were there and she came to where I was and started talking about this cat and how she wanted it… I told her to ask her daddy because I didn’t think he was gonna let her have a cat… She was very adamantly telling her dad and very loudly, I might add, that she was 18, could do what she wanted and that we couldn’t tell her what to do… She said she was gonna get the cat and pack up her stuff and go move in with her aunt. I thought she was kidding like she always does (these threats of moving out are constant, before and after she turned 18)… I made the comment that she could pack her stuff and I would help her… I was laughing when I said it… Two of my other children and I went through checkout and went straight to the car without another word to her because I wasn’t going to be embarrassed by my 18 year old in the pet store because of a cat, which is the fit she was throwing with her daddy not me! She had apparently started to text some friends to come to the pet store and I didn’t know it. I’m in the car for 10-15 minutes with two of my children. I told her dad when he and two more of my children came to the car that I was ready to go… I wanted to get stuff for supper and go home. I was tired and wanted to eat and go to bed. I hadn’t slept since early Monday morning. By that time her friends came to the car with her and she climbed in the back out of the rain and introduced her new friend to me and her friends said, to my 18 year old, “do you wanna go watch movies, hang out and eat pizza?” She said, “I guess I’m just gonna go with them…” (talking about us), and I looked at her and she said, “can I go with them?” I said, “you are 18 and can do what you want no matter what we say, so it doesn’t matter to me… I don’t care.” I wasn’t rude to her, just extremely tired at this point… She got out of the car and left with her friends, without another word… We went to the grocery store on our way home (about 30 minutes from when we left her), in that time she had her friends bring her to my house where she came in through my little girls bedroom window, she broke a mirror and pulled the speaker out of their stereo,in th process of coming through the window… She came in, packed her stuff and left before we got home. When I figured out what had happened, because she left the front door locked but not closed completely so it was open. By this point my husband gets a text from his sister saying, “just thought you should know your oldest daughter is at my house”. He told me that his sister text him and I text my 18 year old and told her, “its time for you to come home.” She never responded. So, I called her. I told her that she was a chicken in how she handled the situation. She talks big about being an “adult” but that she acted like a child sneaking out and running away from home the way she left. I told her to bring me her phone that I wasn’t furnishing her a phone on an account with our names on it if she didn’t live here. She knew the rules about moving out and honestly she was just looking for any little excuse to blame any of us for her moving out and moving in with her aunt. She’s had it planned and it was supposed to be a big secret from me and my husband. She and her aunt have been planning her moving out for over a year… She told my oldest son on the night of the military ball (late February or early March) that on the Sunday, after her 18th birthday she was gonna come home and pack all her stuff and move out. So anyway, she called her dad about an hour later, after I called her, on Tuesday night and told him I was rude to her in front of her friends in the pet store and that she was embarrassed. I didn’t say a word to her in front of her friends in that store… I wasn’t in there with her and her friends… I was already in the car. She has everyone believing that she is the victim and that I am nothing but a mean, horrible person. She has pulled this with me before… Not to the extent of moving out but just acting out impulsively… And it’s always my fault… Then Thursday is my husband’s grandmother’s funeral… She walked up to me and stood there looking at me when I was sitting in the church… And I said to her, “I don’t have anything to say to you here… It’s not about you today.” She looked at me and said, “I can’t come say hi to you?” I said, “I’m not doing this with you, it’s not the time or place… It’s not about you today!” So, she with all her attitude, rolling her eyes and stuff, turned around and walked off. I wasn’t in any kind of mood to deal with any of it. She went and told everyone that she tried to hug me and I told her to go away… In between all of this stuff, she has called my oldest son and asked him to check and see if she left anything on the headboard of her bed and asked if I was mean to him… He said, “no why would she be?” Then she said, “don’t tell mom and dad I called.” She has text him and told him to delete the text messages. She and my middle daughter were messaging on Facebook and she asked if I knew that my middle daughter was talking to her and my middle daughter said, “yeah why.. Why does it matter?” My 18 year old quit talking to her. I sent her a message on Facebook on Thursday night that said, “why do you think I don’t want anyone talking to you? And why can’t you be adult enough to come talk to me and your dad?” Then Friday morning, I sent another message that said, “you need to come to our house and sit down with me and your dad and have a conversation. This doesn’t need to tear our family apart.” She never responded to either.

    The part that hurts me is that I’ve always bent over backwards for her. I’m the one who is ALWAYS there… I’m the one she calls when she needs or wants something… I have done so much for her to keep her happy, so she would stay… She had a big party for her 18th birthday (over $350 in gifts, food, etc… & 43 people in my house.) I had all her Sr. prom planned… all I had to do was get the kids to decide on the limo and stuff so I could get it reserved… Had the hair, dress, shoes, flowers, jewelry all planned… And I was gonna pay for it… I don’t know what more I could have done to make her happy and make her stay… All of this 33 days before graduation from high school… Any advice?

  • Teen Says:

    As a 17 year old myself, I can find truth in a lot of what you say. There are however a few responses which I felt were somewhat demeaning-

    If they don’t want to go to school, they’ll say “I’m almost 18, you can’t make me.” Or, “As soon as I turn 18, I’m going to quit and you can’t stop me.”

    In my opinion, this is highly generalised and although I can acknowledge there are a number of parents who have been unfortunate to experience this, it was offensive to find.

    I wish everyone the best with any issues they are having concerning their troubled teens, and to not take the dictator approach!

  • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parental Support Advisor Says:

    To ‘abzmomof5′: It’s hard when you do so much for your child, and the response is an ungrateful attitude. It is normal, though hurtful, for kids not to recognize the sacrifices that you make for them. It might be helpful for you to look at what you can control in this situation. Your daughter is 18, and can make the choice to move out of the house. She can also make the choice of whether she is going to speak with you or not. You ultimately have control over yourself, and your actions. You can keep the lines of communication open with her by sending her messages on Facebook, or calling her on the phone at her aunt’s house. You also can control which “extras” you choose to provide to her now that she is not living with you, such as paying for her phone. If she does make the choice to move back home, it might be helpful to look at writing up a living agreement which outlines what your expectations are for her behavior while living in your home. I’m including a link to an article I think you might find helpful: A Message from Janet Lehman: Does Parenting Feel Like a Thankless Job? (Then Read This.) Good luck to you and your family as you continue to work through this.

  • JKMsMOMMY Says:

    My daughter just graduated high school and will be 18 in a month. She no longer wants to stay with her dad (for school) and wants to come back home with me. He is refusing to let her leave now. He says what he says goes and if she don’t like it, too bad.
    What actions can she take as well as myself?

  • D. Rowden, Parental Support Advisor Says:

    To “JKMsMOMMY”: Thank you for asking such a great question. I can hear how much you want to be supportive of your daughter and her choices. Usually when a child turns 18, ultimately it’s they’re choice where they live. If there is any sort of divorce decree or residency agreement in place, it may be helpful to talk with a lawyer or someone who has knowledge of those laws within your state. You can contact the 211 National Helpline to see if there is any sort of legal service within your area where you could have these questions answered. You can reach this valuable resource by calling 1-800-273-6222 or by logging onto We wish you and your family luck as you work through this issue. Take care.

  • Cooper-M Says:

    I am a teenager myself(18) and I do agree that we still have to follow the rules of the house. Just as if someone older came to stay at your home and they pay rent, they can do what they want but there is still rules regarding there stay. But I do feel as though the parent cant boss there 18 yr old around if they dont live with them. I also feel as though the hitting should stop too.

  • charl Says:

    Im a teenager and almost 18 myself and i do agree that you should obviously treat your parents with the repect that they deserve. But i really do think that boundries should be loosened because if you dont have to freedom to rome free and do what you want with out the safty net of your parents. When they final do get the freedom though what what ever means they wont know how to handle it and will go mad on drugs and booze.