When Your Teen Says: “I’m Almost 18 – You Can’t Tell Me What to Do!”

Posted April 6, 2009 by

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!

About

Megan Devine is a licensed clinical therapist, former 1-on-1 Coaching Advisor, speaker and writer. She is also the bonus-parent to a successfully launched young man. You can find more of her work at refugeingrief.com, where she advocates for new ways to live with grief.

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  1. though Report

    I just had to kick my 18 year old son out. Problems with him have been accruing for a few years. Calling me every name under the sun, having strange men of ALL ages come to our home that he met on the internet, constantly lying and his Dad and I couldn’t do it anymore. I’m so heartbroken. He has been gone a week, living in a place for young adults ages 16-22 years of age. I just feel so many emotions right now

    Reply
  2. stepdup Report

    My 17 year old step-daughter is challenging everything she dropped out of high school she wants to move out and honestly Im tired of her constant disrespect towards everyone. I won’t kick her out so she lets the dog she just got deficate and urinate all over my home she fights and argues with everyone in the home. I want to kick her out so bad but I wont because I know thats what she wants and I know she cannot take care of herself and her BF cant even get a job to take care of himself so I know he cant take care of her. Im at the point where I think we are going to have to let her move out and learn that life is much harder than she thinks but I want her to think it was me and her mothers decision to let her move out not simply we are letting her because thats what she wants any ideals

    Reply
    • rwolfenden Report

      stepdup 
      It can be quite challenging when your older teen starts to
      become more disrespectful and threatens to move out of the house.  I also
      understand the additional challenge that you are facing in not wanting to
      communicate to your stepdaughter that she has “won” by your decision to allow
      her to move out with her boyfriend.  In the end, though, you can only
      control your own actions, not how others might perceive them.  At this
      point, you might want to research your legal rights and responsibilities to
      your stepdaughter due to her age.  You might also consider starting to
      plan with her about the steps she needs to take to live independently. 
      One step might be to https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/ground-rules-for-living-with-an-adult-child-plus-free-living-agreement/ about your expectations for her behavior while she is
      still in your home, and how you will hold her accountable if she is not
      following the rules.  Please be sure to write back and let us know how
      things are going for you and your family.  Take care.

      Reply
  3. Thenewguy Report

    18 year olds have many rights being legally accountable is not the only one. Saying that is merely wishful thinking in all respect YOU as a parent are legally accountable if you violate the rights of your child that has been emancipated.

    Reply
    • SavvasMorris Report

      @Thenewguy  how does an 18 year old get emancipated? What does that really mean? How can a parent stop it if there’s clear indication that the child is manic depressive?

      Reply
      • rwolfenden Report

        SavvasMorris Emancipation is a process by which teens who have not reached the legal age of adulthood can apply to the court to have the legal rights and responsibilities of adulthood.  In many places, 18 is considered legal adulthood, so an 18 year old would not typically have to go through the emancipation process.  There are processes parents can undergo to maintain guardianship of a child after the age of 18 if they are concerned for their young adult’s safety and well-being.  For more information about this process in your community, I encourage you to contact a lawyer who would be able to outline what this would involve in your area.  If you are not currently working with anyone, try contacting the http://www.211.org at 1-800-273-6222.  211 is a service which connects people with resources in their community.  Thank you for your question; take care.

        Reply
  4. disrespectedmama Report

    The problem is he refuses to follow house rules. He is disrespectful and just does not care. All he worries about is smoking bud and his girlfriend. He brings people in the house all hours of the night (2:30, 5am, etc.)and doesn’t care if me or his brother get woke up. I told him he needs to straighten up or find someplace else to stay. He refuses to do either… Told me he’s not leaving “His house” I should leave… How do I legally get him to go?

    Reply
    • though Report

      disrespectedmama I know exactly how you feel. I was told the exact same thing. I was told to move out because I’m a stay at home mom and his Dad works, so because I don’t technically pay the bills I should move out. I feel for you. We just had to kick our 18 year old out. It really sucks when your child has zero respect for you and you love them so much.

      Reply
    • rwolfenden Report

      disrespectedmama 
      It’s not uncommon for teens and young adults to want the
      independence which comes along with being an adult, while ignoring the
      responsibilities which come along with it.  If your son is legally an
      adult, and is refusing to follow your rules, you have the option of removing
      him from your home.  In some communities, you may have to follow a formal
      eviction process to have your son leave.  You can call your local clerk of
      courts to get information on the process in your area, as well as other options
      you might have available to you.  Thanks for writing in; take care.

      Reply
  5. Serenity May Report

    I enforced family rules in the same way. Finish college or get a job and contribute. No drugs. No boys staying over. Help with housework.
    Both of my daughters left home before they were 18 because they thought these rules unreasonable and I would not back down. They stormed out on separate occasions and I lost them.
    There isn’t a day goes by when I don’t question whether I did the right thing. I held the line with them for all the reasons cited in the article and because I love them. They threw it all back in my face.
    One lives with her father on a narrowboat, and the other lives in a shared house.
    We talk now and see each other occasionally but when we talk they complain bitterly about nit having qualifications and not having enough money as they haven’t got jobs. It breaks my heart.

    Reply
    • MomSad Report

      Serenity May That sounds exactly like my situation with my 18 year old son. I almost wish I was the friend instead of mom as he has now moved out to live with a friend and his mom who has basically no rules. All fun no parents, how do you compete with that?  It has been 2 months for us and he barely answers out texts to him and won’t see us. It is soooo sad.

      Reply
  6. Eddy4510 Report

    Well I support the fact that I still live with my parents. But guess what?? They care a lot about me and also said that its my house too. In fact, its my whole family’s house as well. Therefore, since its part of my house too I realize that I’m allowed to do whatever I want, and they don’t even mind a thing. I don’t drink curse or smoke or talk back to them. But I do my chores, and don’t even ask them for permission to go out cuz I’m already 20, and their OK about this too. So basically its my house too, so I don’t need any rules. Only if it was their house and not mine, then that’s when I would need to follow their rules. So what you parents out there should realize is that if the house was yours only and not your sons or daughters, then he or she may have to obey your rules. But if you say that its also their house, then they don’t need to follow any rules because its their house TOO!!

    Reply
    • hollie00013 Report

      It sounds like you have a great relationship with your family and by being responsible and trustworthy this is your reward. This, however, is not true for many teens. They want to break all the rules, never take on responsibility, and act like everyone owes them something. They are very difficult people to live with. My 15 year old has done his own laundry for years. But now he says he should not have to do laundry because this is a free country. I don’t know what our government has to do with our laundry but he loses trust and respect when he chooses to rebel against basic hygiene. This us not the only issue…just one example. I couldn’t possibly tell him that he has the freedom to do what he wants and that this is his house. He is nearly impossible to live with now. I couldn’t imagine how bad it would be if he had his own way. I think we owe it to society to continue to try to get him to do the right thing at least until he is 18. Your situation sounds great and I hope we get there someday.

      Reply
      • 16jbryan16 Report

        Not true at all if a teen its taught they follow logical rules. If not taught they don’t you can’t dare say all teens think that there’s millions of teens how could you possible know all their thoughts. Yes follow rules but its unreasonable for a parent to say yes you can live here if you don’t date any boys/girls what is reasonable is clean up after yourself. Some parents are still attached to having power and control so they give there 18+ year old child two choices follow every rule and word I say or you’re out

        Reply
      • Eddy4510 Report

        hollie00013 Well, I kind get your point. Many teens including me feel like because we are adults already,we are free to do anything we want. Many parents say that because they still live in their house, they must still obey the rules or leave and find another place to live. As an adult myself, I don’t need to worry about any rules my parents have because I am a good person. What I mean by this is that their house rules are not to drink, smoke, swear, or abuse inside the house, and to always clean your room. I do not need to be concerned about these rules because I have never smoke, drink, or disrespect them.  I always help them clean the house and wash the dishes. So to me, these rules do not look like rules to me because I am a respectfully and responsible person. Well to me they are not rules, which is what I said before that I can still live with them without rules because these “rules” look more like daily things I must do. Besides, even if you live on your own, you must still clean your place, so why are chores rules??? To me they are more like privileges rather than rules.

        Reply
    • momof3kidzs Report

      Eddy4510 Eddy, is your name on the mortgage or the deed? If not then it’s NOT your house, it’s THEIR house. Techinally they don’t have to allow you to live there.

      Reply
  7. MW Report

    The hardest part for me is figuring out what the consequences should be for breaking the house rules.  What is appropriate?

    Reply
    • Nuclabrt Report

      I had simple rules that couldn’t be followed. I’m a single dad of three girls. My oldest just packed up and moved out. I tried so hard to be flexible but her whole attitude changed. She wasn’t even nice to be around. I told her we could work through the picking up and the lack of communication in regards to curfew. Finally I had it and told her if the dishes from the Mac and cheese she made the night before weren’t picked up by the time I got home from work she should pack her things. Well, not only was it not picked up but the milk was left out and the butter. Pan on coffee table. Sounds petty but I was serious and now her stuff is in her car.
      I think she wanted this. I think as my oldest daughter and me being a single dad she felt she had to stay. She always was the “mom” of the house in regards to her siblings.
      I’m somewhat relieved because I’ve been walking on eggshells lately but I’m also incredibly terrified. I told her she is always welcome here and her room won’t change. We both cried when she left. I want to call her and tell her to come home but she is 19 and maybe it’s for the best. Thoughts? Comments? Please.

      Reply
      • rwolfenden Report

        Nuclabrt 
        I hear you.Following
        through on enforcing the limits you have set is rarely easy, and the way you
        are feeling right now is understandable.At this point, it might be helpful to take some time and allow things to
        calm down between you and your daughter.When you are both calm, you can talk with your daughter about whether
        she wants to come back to your home.If
        she decides to return, it might helpful to talk about your expectations before
        she moves back, and how things will be different this time.You might also consider https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/ground-rules-for-living-with-an-adult-child-plus-free-living-agreement/ which outlines these expectations.I recognize how difficult this must be for
        you, and I wish you and your family all the best.Take care.

        Reply
    • Empowering Parents Coach drowden Report

      @MW
      You ask a great question. We have several articles that
      discuss how to hold kids accountable with effective consequences. Two in
      particular you may find helpful are https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/using-consequences-to-maintain-your-parental-authority/ & https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/child-discipline-consequences-and-effective-parenting/. I hope you find the
      information in these articles useful for your situation. We appreciate you
      writing in. Take care.

      Reply
    • LauLeeRN Report

      Chloe2t It was hard to be ready, but I knew it was going in that direction because of her BF and BF’s Mother’s ability to manipulate the system. I just knew they were up to something not good.  WoW!

      Reply
  8. JG Report

    Thank you for the insightful article. Our 18 year old has been threatening us with the “I’m 18 card” for nearly a year since turning 17. Challenging what basic rules we have in the home on a daily basis with younger siblings watching.  Though he’s tested the waters all year as soon as the official birthday was reached he really escalated his “I can do whatever I want” mantra. Staying out all night, coming home smelling like a brewery the next day. He won’t even do his laundry let alone any family related chores like taking trash out. He had worked over the summer and has nothing to show for it as he blew through the money on partying and now angry and resentful we won’t just buy him a car. We finally said you need to do what makes you happy, enough of walking on eggshells everyday especially with younger ones still in the home. He has not called or come home in a week now and won’t respond to any text messages despite we still pay his phone and insurance. It’s incredibly disrespectful the way he has chosen to exit the family nest but what can one do??? We suspect he is now shacked up with a buddy who lives in and out of his fathers home and they allow their son to do whatever since about the age of 15. It’s hard to parent these days when it feels so many other parents are not being parents, more like friends with their kids. I would have never dreamed of doing this to my parents. Is this just the way it is now in our society? I am at a loss….

    Reply
    • Nuclabrt Report

      It seems kids feel entightled. All too common for an “adult” to stay home in order to spend money on other things.

      Reply
    • LisG67 Report

      I have the same happening with my 17, almost 18yo son. I supply grocery cards, medical support, bus fare and phone. He does not bother contacting me and ignores my attempts. I see it as a power play. He contacts me telling me he has very little food, I explain that I understand it can be tough and he can come home anytime. Although he has left home, I believe I am still responsible for his welfare, things will change when he turns 18. He does not want to come home as he has had enough of the arguing which is usually about rules, school and pitching in -( so over hearing but its not my mess). I worry all the time, I don’t particularly like who he is living with, its out of my control unless I believe there is a welfare issue. My door is open, he knows he can come home. I do not condone his decision however I have accepted.

      Reply
    • bagladi3 Report

      @JG We are having the same issue with our 18 y/o daughter she has been gone  week.  We are giving ours a choiceOBEY the rules or your choice is to leave

      Reply
      • LauLeeRN Report

        bagladi3 Me too! but the worst thing is she left with a 2 week old new born and went to her BF mother’s house miles away. Will not answer me. I think it is him responding to the text messages. She will not speak with her family. And to top it off the BF just came in for the delivery and not the entire pregnancy. That was mom’s jobs. My house rule was your BF was not going to live in my home and I was not going to fund him, as I did once in the past. Then I saw his true colors. She has been gone for I was so baffled I don’t know the dates. Her biological father sent his 2 ex wife’s in law to pick her up when I was not home. Came into my home and took 1/2 the nursery, my 18 y/o daughter and 2 week old grand child. BF house is unsafe. They have DCYF in there for a younger brother and her BF graduated from DCYF and now is being charged with breaking and entering a junk yard, disorderly conduct, and walking the train tracks with tools need to break into the cars. Baffled!

        Reply
  9. lej Report

    “Ideally, if your child does not want to follow the rules, the consequences will make him/her uncomfortable enough to leave on their own.”

    Yes, but in terms of the entire situation, that’s not ideal at all. The whole point of enforcing rules like “you have to get a job and pay rent or you have to go to school” is to put him/her in a position where he/she feels following that rule is the only option. In other words, the whole point of making the rule is to attempt to force your child into following it, because you feel your child isn’t making the decision he/she should (like dropping out of school). I can understand that the intentions are good with that, but it should be used as a last resort. As a mother of three sons–ages 23, 22, and 17 now–I would never actually kick my any of my children out for dropping out of school. Unless they have a friend who they can stay with or enough money to find a place to live, you’ll be leaving them homeless and often without safe transport. And if it’s already gotten far enough that you are actually kicking them out and they are still not willing to cave, it could be too late to get them back in school.

    First you have a full conversation with your child, so that you may understand why he wants to drop out. You have to listen; so many parents simply cut off their children and treat them as if they are inferior beings or something of the sort. Actually let your child talk, and listen like a proper person with respect. You cannot expect to be respected by your child simply because you work to provide food and shelter or whatever material things for them; you have to respect fully to get full respect in return. You take in what they are saying fairly, and then you tell them why you feel they are making the wrong choice. You try to convince them, not force them.

    Then, after everything has been mulled over, if they still want to drop out, you start taking away privileges. No more laptop, no more video games, no more going out with friends, no more car, no more this or that–just as usual if your child is not yet 18. You can make them do homework, make them do chores, make them read about why education is important for success. But, if they have turned 18 and thus you can no longer control those personal things, you can still take away house privileges. They are no longer allowed to watch your TV, they are no longer allowed in your living room or backyard (esp. if you have a swimming pool), they are only allowed to eat certain foods they need from the kitchen (and must buy extras themselves), they must shower only 10 minutes to conserve water that you pay for, they are no longer allowed to use your Wi-Fi. Basically, they get the bare minimum. And, in my case, this did the trick for my eldest–he realized how much it all would cost to get his own place, how easy it would be to stay here and go to school for just another half year, and how much more money he could make if he went ahead to college and started using his math skills. 

    Kicking your child out, again, should be the very last resort. Please remember.

    Reply
  10. MetallicGirl Report

    Teenagers are people too. This article basically implies that the parent has to manipulate the “child” (s/he’s not a child anymore, BTW), to do what the parent wants. Can you at least try to listen to what the teenager says? Maybe some of your rules do have fallacies to them. For example, are there any laws in your country that you don’t agree with? Yeah, I thought so. So maybe you should hear your own offspring out for once. True, you are the one paying the mortgage (I assume), but that also means that you have to consider the needs of other people living there too. Again, nobody likes a political leader who doesn’t think about the people he has power over. This isn’t really much different.

    Reply
    • Chamart Report

      @MetallicGirl Yes there are laws that i dont’ agree with, but my not agreeing doesn’t me a change of that law either.  It’s still the law just the same and isn’t going to change no matter if the majority of the country disagrees with it.  Take income taxes for example, nobody likes or wants that law, but it’s not gonna change a thing.  That is because the laws were put in place for reasons that are bigger and and broader in scope than a single person, or a single group of people for that matter, to protect the moral balance that ensures fairness that allows global peace to exist between the large variety of cultures that make up the broader world beyond our tiny little boxes we like to live in.  Most things in life are really not just about you.  That’s the lesson parents struggle to teach, mainly because it’s the most painful lesson, and helping kids see this sooner is a desire deeply rooted in parental love and parental need to spare our kids from pain we have encountered in our own journey in learning the exact same lessons.   Nothing in life is fair, fair doesn’t exist, things weren’t designed that way in nature.  and Nobody “owes” you.  Entitlement is a dilution of simple selfish minds, regardless even they will be forced to learn this someday.   The longer it takes to get with it, the more painful the experience of learning will be.  Just saying.  That’s what parents, good parents understand.  I want my kids to be prepared, (in the event I may not be here to help them,) to handle these mental types of anguish that come with life.  It’s your job as a parent, you’re responsible for what you bring into this world and anything that happens once you unleash it upon others in this world.  Sounds cold with simplicity, but it all makes perfect sense when you keep it simple.

      Reply
  11. Kate Report

    What if they refuse to not go to school or pay rent?  Of course, you may say ask them to leave.  What do you do if they won’t?

    Reply
    • dbeaulieu Report

      @Kate 

      We hear from many parents in
      similar situations so we understand your frustration. You can first start out
      by setting up a mutual living agreement.  For more information on how to
      set that up check out these articles: http://www.empoweringparents.com/parenting-your-adult-child-how-to-set-up-a-mutual-living-agreement.php and http://www.empoweringparents.com/parenting-living-adult-children.php. A mutual
      living agreement is an effective way to establish what your rules are and what
      will happen if those rules are not followed. Making your expectations clear on
      what you expect from your child to continue to live in your home and helping
      your child develop a plan to meet those expectations is going to be important.
      For example, your child must show you evidence that he/she is looking for a job
      everyday or is exploring school options. You can tie a daily privilege to
      meeting the expectation each day, like having access to the car when you have
      seen 2 completed job applications for that day. Ideally, if your child does not
      want to follow the rules, the consequences will make him/her uncomfortable enough
      to leave on their own.  If that does not happen and you are put in a
      position where you have to ask your child to leave and they do not comply,
       you will have to check with your local court on the laws in your area to
      see what the process is to make them comply. See the article http://www.empoweringparents.com/Six-Steps-to-Help-Your-Adult-Child-Move-Out.php for more
      information on that. We know this is a difficult situation to be in and we
      appreciate you reaching out to us. Take care.

      Reply
  12. DiChar Report

    My 17teen yr old has decided to move out. Me a single Parent and she is now bigger then me. House rules…, clean up after your self, put things back…, she just tells me that I nag, nag nag. Do I have any rights still? or not!?

    Reply
    • rwolfenden Report

      DiChar 
      Seventeen can be a tough age for many families, as teens are
      pushing for more independence and freedom, and parents are unsure where to draw
      the line as their child is on the cusp of adulthood.  Because parents’
      legal rights and responsibilities for a 17-year-old vary so much among
      communities, it is difficult to specifically answer your question.  It
      might be useful instead to call your local law enforcement agency to determine
      what your options are at this point.  If she is going to continue living
      in your home, you might consider drawing up a http://www.empoweringparents.com/parenting-living-adult-children.php with her which outlines the expectations and house rules while
      she is in your home, and how she will be held accountable to following
      them.  I appreciate your writing in; please let us know if you have any
      additional questions!

      Reply
  13. rwolfenden Report

    Looking for anwers 
    One of the hardest
    things a parent can go through is watching a child continue to make dangerous
    and troubling choices, and feel helpless to do anything to stop it. 
    Unfortunately, because your daughter is legally an adult, she is able to make
    her own choices, even those that may be unsafe or illegal such as choosing to
    live on the streets or use drugs.  Thus, at this point, it’s going to be
    more effective to determine how you will respond to your daughter’s choices
    rather than trying to get her to make different decisions.  One step I
    would encourage you to take is to develop a plan for how you can respond when
    your daughter sends you texts about killing herself, so that you can help her
    to stay safe.  A helpful resource to assist you might be contacting the http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).  They also offer a live chat option
    on their website if that’s more comfortable or convenient for you. 
    Another part of this process is going to be focusing on taking care of
    yourself.  While self-care is often overlooked, it is a crucial part of
    being an effective parent, and setting and enforcing appropriate boundaries with
    your daughter.  Your self-care plan can be anything you wish, from
    regularly engaging in an activity you enjoy to using more structured supports
    such as a counselor or a support group such as Al-Anon.  For assistance
    locating available resources in your community, try contacting the http://www.211.org/ at 1-800-273-6222.  I
    recognize how difficult this must be for you, and I wish you and your daughter
    all the best as you continue to move forward.  Take care.

    Reply
  14. Sky Report

    My 18 year old decided to move out because he did not like our house rules.  He is living with a friend.  His friends mother gave him a key to their house, a room, a bed, and cooks for him.  He does not have a curfew or rules at their house.  I feel crushed.  I want him to come home but why would he when he can live somewhere without rules with the comfort of home?

    Reply
    • rwolfenden Report

      @Sky 

      We speak with many parents of young adults
      who are in this same dilemma, so you are not alone in your experience.  While
      it is very difficult when your teen decides to move out of your home, he is
      also legally an adult, so he can make the choice about where he wants to
      live.  At this point, it could be more useful to focus on yourself, and
      your own emotional well-being surrounding this choice, rather than trying to
      get your son to make a different choice.  Self-care is an often overlooked
      part of being an effective parent.  Your self-care plan can be anything
      you wish-from reaching out to a supportive friend or family member when you are
      feeling down, to regularly engaging in an activity you enjoy, to using more
      structured supports such as a counselor or support group.  For assistance
      locating this type of support in your community,  try contacting the http://www.211.org/ at 1-800-273-6222.  I
      recognize how difficult this situation is for you, and I wish you and your
      family all the best moving forward.  Take care.

      Reply
  15. Empowering Parents Coach drowden Report

    @Danielle
    You bring up an interesting situation. It sounds like you are wondering about your legal rights
    now that you are an adult.  It could be useful to contact your local
    police department on their non-emergency line, or contact a local attorney to
    get more information on your rights and responsibilities as an adult. It’s also important
    to keep in mind that living in your parent’s home after you turn 18 is now a privilege, not a
    right, and one that your mom could decide she no longer wants to
    provide. I hope this helps to answer your question. Take care.

    Reply
  16. Maria Report

    im living in a lousy home its about to erupted my 19 does not help me anymore my brother he’s uncle who never worked a day in his life cause always close to mom to is about to pass away.  For me I gave my son everything to much now I’m kicked in the a**.  Its not easy just to pack up and leave now what the heck can I do.  Pulse my son at age 17 when he stared drive he totaled my car been carless for 2 years he doesn’t even want to give me ride HELP

    Reply
    • Empowering Parents Coach drowden Report

      Mariad58
      I can hear what a tough situation you are in. It can be
      upsetting when it seems as though you have done everything in your power to
      help your children, and yet they are unwilling to help you in your time of
      need. I am sorry you are having to face these issues.  Many parents in
      your situation would be unsure of where to turn for help, so, you’re not alone.
      It may be beneficial to find out what types of local supports are available in
      your area. Many communities have resources available to help people find transportation
      or temporary housing. The 211 Helpline would be able to give you information on
      these and other services. You can reach the Helpline 24 hours a day by calling
      1-800-273-6222 or by visiting them online at http://www.211.org/.
      I hope this information is useful for your situation. Be sure to check back if
      you have any further questions. Take care.

      Reply
  17. theresad0464 Report

    My 18 year old thinks he can do whatever he wants now that he’s 18 and threatens to leave and get his own place if I don’t let him have any freedom he wants, or other things I don’t want to happen. Of course I want him to graduate and be successful and productive. How do I get him to respect me and my rules and keep him on the right path?>

    Reply
  18. Gaylebs Report

    I am the one who wants the child to follow rules. My husband says, “It’s too late for him” yet, he drives him to work, does not make him pay any rent or take any responsibility for his actions. I think I’m just screwed in this situation. It wouldn’t be so bad but for the drugs, alcohol, violence, destruction of property, vulgar language, etc. towards me. My husband lets him do these things to the house and me and my things. Is there any hope for this situation, or should I just give up?

    Reply
    • NicoleMorkertHashimoto Report

      Is he 18? Take the stand and move him out. Get no back up from your spouse? Take stuff and move out on your own. This is ridiculous, and your spouse is enabling him. The drugs violence and disrespect will not stop so long as your spouse keeps on funding this lifestyle. You don’t have to divorce or separate, but give yourself the right to reasonable boundaries. Put yourself first for once.

      Reply
    • Empowering Parents Coach drowden Report

      Gaylebs
      It can be so upsetting when your spouse doesn’t seem to back you
      up when your child is acting abusively towards you. I speak with quite a few
      parents who share similar  concerns, so you’re not alone. In the situation
      you describe, it’s probably going to be most effective to focus on what you
      have control over, namely your responses to the choices other people are making.
      If there is any sort of physical aggression towards you, you may find it
      helpful to contact your local crisis response for help developing a safety
      plan, or, a plan of action you can take if your son begins to behave violently
      towards you. It may also be useful to pack away anything of yours that can’t be
      replaced or has sentimental value for you. While you shouldn’t have to do this
      within your own home, the truth of the matter is, if your son does end up
      destroying something that means a lot to you, you may find it tough to hold him
      accountable for that behavior without the support of your husband. A self-care
      plan could also be quite useful. This can include anything you would like, from
      spending time outside of the home doing an activity you enjoy, spending time
      with friends, or perhaps engaging in more structured help, in the form of a support group or
      individual counselor. You may find shifting the focus in this way to taking
      care of yourself to be beneficial. After all, it can be difficult to be
      effective when you are exhausted and ready to give up. For more information on
      steps you can take to change how you respond, you may find this article by
      Janet Lehman helpful: http://www.empoweringparents.com/disrespectful-kids-and-teens-5-rules-to-help-you-handle-their-behavior.php#ixzz3Tu6nIHmU. We appreciate
      you writing in and wish you the best of luck moving forward. We hope you will
      continue to check in and let us know how things are going.

      Reply
  19. Wresgirl97 Report

    I’m 18 and my parents have been fighting a lot about what I can and can’t do. I’m in college (I graduated early), I don’t do drugs, I don’t party, I’m not out having sex, I don’t really spend time with people really. The power struggle is between me and my dad, my mom understands, somewhat. My dad won’t let me leave the house unless it’s for school or if they need me to run to the store, that’s it. If I want to hang out with friends my parents have to meet their parents and I have to be back by 9:00 pm, that’s if they let me go. There are several factors that determine if I can go or not, if the person is a girl, they have the same religion as I’ve been raised with, and if they have the same values. Don’t get me wrong, that can be nice at times, but other times I wish I could tell them who I’m hanging out with and I would like to hang out with guys too. I’m whats considered to be a “tomboy”, so I connect with them better. I have my own laptop that I bought, but I can never have internet on it because the “family computer is downstairs go use that”. But I can never use that because my younger siblings or mother is always on it (oldest of 5). I end up staying late at the college because they have free wifi to do homework. Then my dad gets mad when I come home late saying that I was out partying or hanging out with guys. I’m not allowed to watch tv because the tv is in his room and I’m not allowed to in there. I’m responsible for the younger siblings, I drive them to school everyday, do the grocery shopping, and any errands that my parents want me to do. When the younger siblings act up or do something my parents don’t like they immediately come to me and blame me saying I need to set a better example, even if I never did it at their age. I love my parents, I really do, but I feel like they are over powering me and controlling too much. They call me stupid, irresponsible, and may me feel like I’m a terrible child. I just want a normal life where I can hang out with friends, watch tv, and be able to talk with my parents about issues without it blowing up into an argument or me getting in trouble for something I did. Is there anything I can do? If I try to move out, they threaten saying they won’t pay for my tuition. Please help, I don’t know what to do.

    Reply
    • Gaylebs Report

      Wresgirl97 I had a terrible home life without all the responsibility. I left as soon as I could. I just dealt with the situation until I finished school and got a job. It’s a hard life trying to deal with parents, especially when you’re the oldest. It is also hard seeing them let the youngest get away with everything. It takes a big person to deal with everything you have to deal with. This hard time will make you stronger in the future. Forgiveness will help you now and especially in the future. Life is unfair and you are having to deal with a lot of unfairness right now.

      Reply
    • Empowering Parents Coach drowden Report

      Wresgirl97
      It’s not uncommon for parents and young adults to disagree about
      things such as spending time hanging out with friends or doing other activities
      outside of the house. So, you’re not alone in dealing with that conflict. I’m
      sure these limits placed on your time are quite frustrating because as an
      adult, you do have the right to decide where and with whom to spend your time.
      However, your parents also have the right to decide how much, if any, support
      they will continue to give you now that you are an adult. Ultimately, it’s up
      to you and your parents to determine what the rules and expectations will be
      for you to continue living at home as an adult. There is a website you may find
      helpful when deciding how best to approach your parents about the challenges
      you are facing with your current living arrangement. http://www.yourlifeyourvoice.org/SitePages/Home.as… is a website aimed at helping teens and young adults
      address difficulties they are facing in their lives. They offer online, as well
      as e-mail/text/call in support. There is also a Tips section which gives
      suggestions for dealing with common issues young adults face, such as http://www.yourlifeyourvoice.org/sitepages/tips/ti…. I appreciate you writing in
      and wish you the best of luck moving forward. Take care.

      Reply
  20. sagebluesky Report

    I can definitely relate with a lot of the posts here.
    I have been a guardian to my younger sister for the past months and its been a circus. She was 16 when she moved in and just turned 17 less then a week ago. I don’t know whats happened since she first moved in since now but she’s changed and even my partner noticed. My partner think my younger sister is likely using hard drugs like opiates because my younger sister just seems so distant and dark….
    sigh….i know i haven’t been her parent like the rest of you for as long but that doesn’t make it any easier. I guess in her eyes she think and expects that because I’m only her “sister” that I should just be cool and let her do as she pleases when she pleases. However I’ve given her the benefit of the doubt and allowed her to show me how “mature and responsible” she is. but she hasn’t. she’s just shown me how stubborn and unmotivated even to the point i think she’s just lazy. I’ve had to argue with her to go to school and make sure she studies and completes all her homework. however she’s either out with her friends smoking weed and drinking or at home playing video games. Ive asked her to get a job, i had to argue with her to start making a resume, i had to nag her to hand out resumes, i got to the point where i was like….heyyyy its been 3,4-5 months now and Ive been waiting for you dot get a job. ….nopppeeee……ive said hey….i can come with you to hand out resumes if your feeling socially anxious….buuut she’s like…”nahhh. i don’t need that”….my god….its just argument after argument……and then there are the name calling…”your so controlling” or “your so annoying, your a jerk” or “your f$%$#@ crazy!!”…..i have no idea what it is  but kids of today are so entitled and disrespectful that they believe they can treat anyone with disrespect and thats ok…….however I’m not ok with it…and i don’t think any parent should be ok with it….these kids have bad attitudes which won’t help in the real world…and unfortunately some have to learn the hard way…..and thats whats going to happen with my sister…I don’t need to put up with her b.s …I have a life, a partner (our relationship has been strained because of the 16yrold), I’m a full time college student…geez kids today are……so ungrateful they don’t realize what they have going for them…..silly

    Reply
  21. JackLovard Report

    I’m 17 years old, and completed year 11 this year, pretty good grades only Bs and Cs. Since i did a maths specialist course, I have easy time solving the problems I come across in game development. During these school holidays, I’ve begun my career as an Indie games developer. I was working on a game for about 3 weeks when my dad decided to take my computer charger because I haven’t made money yet, now he wants me to get a job to get it back. I’ve applied for about 6 jobs but I’m so annoyed hes not letting me develop the game which I intend on making money with. He constantly tells me not to use power or eat food because “I don’t work” he says that “sitting on the computer is not work” – he wants me to do physical work, any work on the computer without immediate profit and he thinks its worthless, he doesn’t even want to see my game! Next week I want to leave this house and find another place to stay (no relatives anywhere near where I live), not exactly sure where to go   🙁

    Reply
  22. Brooklyn mom Report

    My son will be 18 next week and like all of the posts here he does not follow the house rules.  If he continues when he is 18 I will lock him out – and he knows it. Following through with tough love will be gut wrenching, but not as hard as watching him continually be definant and nasty to me.

    He’s always been an angry kid and though extremely bright, not a good student.  He’s been in and out of therapy since he was in 1st grade.  As a teenager he was just playing lip service to seeing a therapist then quit out right.  When his drug use amp up to popping pills and acid like candy we put him into a wilderness program for 10 weeks.  He did very well and had learned coping skills and was relaxed and at ease.  Well, that didnt last long and though the drug tests are negative for the hard drugs he’s smoking weed again and drinking unitl he vomits. He is in constant denial and has no use for any of his old mentors. He has a year and a half left of high school and is already on track to fail.  He does come home when he and his girlfriend need a place to hang.  His girlfriend is 18 and in the same highschool, is in a heavy metal band with older people whom they both admire.  I cant compete with 25+ band members who are becoming mentors to him.

    I have tried everything that I can possibly do as a mother but I will not be an enabler.  In less then 2 weeks he’ll be 18.  At that point he will have to obey by the house rules (9:30 pm curfew on a school night – midnight on a weekend, stay drug and alcohol free,pass school and be polite) or he will have to find somewhere else to sleep.

    Reply
    • NicoleMorkertHashimoto Report

      Yes, you can tell him to leave on or after his 18th birthday, and no, you do not have to wait until he is 18 to enforce house rules. Not aware of your local laws, but when my BBT (badly behaved teen) was defying our curfews and rules, we got to the point where all we could do was call him on it legally. It was almost a little embarrassing at first, but the cops made it clear they were siding with us, the parents, and they backed us up to his face. He got misdemeanor charges which do not show on his adult record, and was held accountable for treating us bad. In our state, failure to come home even one minute late is automatic ‘j-run’, and defiance is ‘beyond parental control’, which they made clear was his bad choice. Once I caught him robbing us, and with his 6 year old sister as a witness, we got him for theft4, and they could not force us to let him in the house since I suggested he find friends to stay with for a couple days while we cooled off. You have every right to set limits, you have every right to your self respect. He has no right to ‘freeload’ and treat you wrong, so the only advice I can give you is to stand firm on your boundary that he is has to move out at 18. It won’t be easy, but it won’t be your responsibility what he does any more, either. My BBT will be 18 on the 1st of January, and his elder brother offered to have him move in over the summer. I warned him of all these things, but the phenomenon there is he is his brother’s idol, so he tries to impress him. Things have never been more peaceful, and I came to realize that, although he has burned some bridges that are his job to rebuild, once he was removed from my direct contact, he stopped manipulating and verbally abusing me. He stopped targeting me, and also his younger siblings, for his narcissistic outbursts. I want him back, but not until he is ready to respect my ‘ridiculous rules and inreasonable boundaries’. When he is ready to act like a man, he can start to make amends, it is not my place to do it for him.

      Reply
  23. Report

    I have a 17 year old that does not like to follow our rules. she comes in the house when she feel like it.  her curfew on school nights are 930 she comes in between 1030 and 11.  on Friday and Saturday nights her curfew is1130.  that is a joke she says so she comes in 1230 or she will make it in the next afternoon.  My daughter has put this family through HELL the last 2 years.  I have had to file over 25 runaway reports on her since Aug 2013.  She has been sent to the juvenile detention center for 14 days for scratching and hitting me.  you think that would have scared her straight.  it did not!!! She will be 18 In 7 months and all she keeps saying is moving out when the clock strikes midnight for her birthday.  And you know something I can’t wait either.  My home has no peace. I just keep praying that God gets me through until the next 7 months

    Reply
  24. charl Report

    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.

    Reply
  25. Cooper-M Report

    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.

    Reply
  26. D. Rowden, Parental Support Advisor Report

    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 http://www.211.org. We wish you and your family luck as you work through this issue. Take care.

    Reply
  27. JKMsMOMMY Report

    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?

    Reply
  28. Rebecca Wolfenden, Parental Support Advisor Report

    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.

    Reply
  29. Teen Report

    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!
    Negotiate!

    Reply
  30. abzmomof5 Report

    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?

    Reply
  31. DC Report

    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!

    Reply
  32. Sara Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor Report

    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.

    Reply
  33. momofLexi Report

    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.

    Reply
  34. caroleblog@empoweringparents.com Report

    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.

    Reply
  35. April Report

    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!

    Reply
  36. May Report

    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.

    Reply
  37. ellan Report

    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.

    Reply
  38. Annie Report

    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!

    Reply
  39. Michele Report

    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.

    Reply
  40. mom of 5 Report

    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?

    Reply
  41. Cat Report

    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”.

    Reply
  42. mandy Report

    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.

    Reply
  43. Elisabeth Wilkins, EP Editor Report

    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:

    http://www.empoweringparents.com/category-Older-Children.php

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

    Reply
  44. Sue Report

    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!

    Reply
  45. Phil Report

    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)?

    Reply
  46. Carole Banks, Parental Support Line Advisor Report

    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 http://www.theantidrug.com

    Stay strong and keep in touch.

    Reply
  47. judy Report

    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 ?

    Reply

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