L.G. asks from Redwood City, CA on July 05, 2009
How to Deal with an 18 Year Old Living at Home
Hello mamas. I really need some advice on how to go about handling my daughter who is 18 and living at home. She is a responsible person who has a part-time job, has her own car, and will be entering junior college this fall, and is EXTREMELY sociable. She lives at home with my husband and I, but we are having trouble where she is putting her social life as a priority. We had set her curfew at 1 a.m. on weekends while she was a senior, but now that she is out of high school and on summer vacation, she is coming home from parties, or get togethers between 1 a.m. and 1:30 a.m just about every night! I set my alarm to wake me up at 1:15 a.m. just to make sure she is home. I worry because she is not doing anything good at these parties. She enjoys drinking alcohol (but doesnt not drink and drive.) and also notice she likes pot too. I've caught her high a couple of times. She likes to go out a lot and rarely likes to bring her friends over because she says her friends would want to drink and since I don't allow it in my home, then she rather be at a friends house who do allow it, or parents are not home. I worry and I don't like her behavior and wish she could focus on college. My husband said just to let her do her thing, because she just graduated HS and is in an euphoria state. He says in the Fall when college begins that she will have a full load of classes and that will hopefully put her focus more on school, and if not, then he will make sure to switch her focus to school. I also worry about her drinking and pot smoking. Any ideas how to help her get away from that? My daughter is the type of person who will not take NO for an answer and will battle with me. She wants her freedom so badly and resents she has to live at home still because she cannot afford to move out. She is a young adult and we've given her more freedom. We've brought her up in a strict environment within reason. Her friends parents are lienient and don't really have curfews for their daughters which doesn't help my case.
I don't want my daughter coming home every night at 1 a.m. every night. It's bad enough that she is out every night. I don't think being out every night is a good thing. What would you do? Should I put a limit on how many nights she can come home at 1 a.m.? I feel she treats our home like a hotel/restaurant and hardly ever spends time with her dad and me, but I guess that is normal for a person her age. I need guidance on how to handle this situation so any advice is greatly appreciated. Thank you so much!!
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S.M. answers from San Francisco on July 06, 2009
My 18 year old son has just come home from Southern California after trying to move out on his own, and not being able to find a job. He had a little money left him by a grandparent, and he blew it all, then couldn't find a job. He enrolled in junior college, and then dropped out after a few weeks. He has been staying out late, partying, and sleeping all day, and trying to support himself by doing tattoos.
I haven't said a word, because I already made clear to him that if he wants the privileges of an adult, then he has to take on some of the responsibilities, too. I already told him that tattooing is not a job that is going to support him, particularly since he doesn't have a license or a studio. And I told him that starting next month, he will have to pay me room and board every month, and unless and until he is enrolled in school full time, he will have to pay me room and board, or he will have to move out.
I haven't put any curfew on him, or tried to get him to spend time with me, but this is not a hotel---as long as he's in my house, he has to do his share of the chores, and he has to pick up after himself, and he has to mind my house rules--- basically, his friends are always welcome, but no alcohol or weed on the premises, and no tattooing of people under 18 in my house.
He already knows that I don't like him drinking and getting high, and he knows why, so lecturing him about it would just be counterproductive. Sooner or later, he will figure out that all this partying and carrying on gets in the way of real life. I figured it out, thirty years ago, and so will he.
I think this is only fair, because I have always told him that when he's 18, I won't be telling him what to do anymore, and I'm not telling him what to do. I'm just letting him know that if he wants to party all night and lay around all day, he can't do it for free in my house.
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H.D. answers from San Francisco on July 05, 2009
I have to tell you, having a new adult child can be more challenging than a willful 3 year old. Unfortunately like a 3 year old you need to set the boundaries and pray hard that they will follow them. I have 5 children over the age of 21 now so I can DEFINITELY sympathize!
She is 18, legally adult, you are no longer obligated to care for her if she will not accept the rules of your home and they can be as follows (these were the rules in my own home);
A. If you are not 21 you are not allowed to drink, period. It is against the law as well as stupid if she is driving drunk. Pot is also out, PERIOD.
B. You set the curfew, if she is late she gets locked out and can find another place to stay the night. That may mean you getting a deadbolt that only works from the inside of the house or changing the locks.
C. Your home is not a hotel or resturant, if she wants to live there she has to do chores as well as help with the cooking. And if she has a job it is high time she pay rent and buy groceries.
D. If she wished to continue on to college then she will be a good girl and follow your rules this summer, if she does not then she can pay her OWN way through college.
E. If she makes it through the summer you will pay all college fees including books but she has to keep her part-time job AND keep her grades up. She fails one class then you are done helping her, PERIOD.
If she can't abide by any of this you may want to give her a 30 day notice. That seems harsh but sometimes you need to be harsh to make them shape up.
Part of being a good parent is doing the hard thing and this is definitely one of those hard things. I feel for you dear, my 22 year old son is doing the same thing to his father right now! Sometimes the best thing the momma bird can do is put a foot in the baby birds rear and push them out of the nest so they will fly!
Please let us know how it goes. What I can tell you is that 5 years from now she will come back and tell you that you being hard on her was one of the best things that could ever have happened to her. =) Free will...gotta love it.
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R.W. answers from San Francisco on July 06, 2009
You wrote that your daughter is a "responsible person" and then you detailed how she breaks the law every single night, and ignores the house rules and the feelings (she knows you worry and disapprove, but her entertainment is more important to her) of those who are paying for the roof over her head, and most of the food that goes in her mouth, etc. She is NOT a responsible person, in other words. I think what you really mean is that you are proud of her in a lot of ways and you think she could be worse. You're right, she sounds pretty okay--better than my teen in some ways, honestly--but I would not classify her as responsible. Responsible people don't flaunt laws and authority...they might for moral/civil disobedience maybe, but not for fun, or because they think they deserve it, or because their friends do it, which seems to be her reasoning.
I think Helen D may be correct (with her ABCD plan)...but I also think your husband has a point in that she MAY settle down when school starts. There is no way of knowing, though, because sometimes bad habits turn into long-term habits!
No one enjoys having strict parents, but often they are best parents to have because of the lessons they teach by their strictness. What she needs to know is that being 18 doesn't make her independent. Actually being independent makes her independent---that means not letting her parents take care of her and provide what she needs, but doing it for herself. Until she is prepared to do that, she must follow rules, without complaint. If she treated her employer and she treats her parents, she would be fired! That's reality.
Whatever you decide, most of all, you and your husband need to be a united front. If she senses she can divide and conquer, she will do just that. So if you can't agree on changes now, then go with your husbands plan--but warn her about what is expected, and then stick to it.
P.W. answers from San Francisco on July 13, 2009
I agree with your husband.
I think you'll have to let her experiment a little with drinking and pot smoking - to an extent those behaviors are normal. She is legally an adult. My kids have all told me that "everyone" at their high school smokes pot (and my kids don't, but I know no one will believe that), so basically drinking and smoking pot are normal activities. I know everyone smoked pot to some degree when I was a kid in the 70's, and that didn't make us all flunk out of school or become addicts.
Like your husband says, wait till Fall, and see how she performs in school. If she's only goofing off then you can decide how much, if anything, you want to support. I would wait a year to decide this.
The 1:00 a.m. thing would bother me too, mostly because I worry a lot and can't sleep until they're home. However, it's summer, and she's on vacation right now. She won't be able to stay up every night once school starts.