17 And 18 Year Old Children

Updated on July 25, 2011
L.F. asks from Sioux Falls, SD
12 answers

I am so frustrated! Last week my son graduated from high school. I told him three house rules need to be followed. Rule 1 - call or text us if he is not coming home at night. Rule 2 - He must clean up after himself (dishes, movies, etc). Rule 3 - His bathroom and bedroom must be kept clean. He has broke every rule. Two nights ago he left the front door open when he came home. We talked and he said he would "follow" the rules. Last night I came home - his bedroom and bathroom are disgusting. He left a package of burritos and a gallon of milk out on the countertop all day. I yelled at him and he again acted like I am stupid. Then he said "kick me out". So I told him he has two weeks to find some where to live. This breaks my heart but I am at a breaking point. My step-daughter is 20. She hasn't found a job for the summer. She goes between our house and her boyfriends. We pay her cell phone and her car insurance. Why am i working so hard and paying for her things when she cannot even find a job. None of the kids do any chores at home. My step-son is 17. We found out the other day he was at a house party that was busted. He blew zero. We found out by accident. When my husband asked him about it my step-son yelled at him. Every other word was f this and f that. Then he said he was moving to his mom's for the summer. I feel our house is so out of control. Its my fault I don't follow thru on things. What do I do?

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So What Happened?

My husband doesn't say anything. He hates confrontation. We have struggled with kid problems since we got married. We never agree on kid issues. His idea of solving it is to let it go and hope that with time I will get over it and let it drop. My step-daughter is in college. She has an apartment in her school town but doesn't choose to live there because its too far away. My husband told me the other day to start budgeting for a wedding. I feel like I am losing my mind some days.

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answers from New York on

They are actually completely in control... of you and your household.

The 17 yr old can go live with his mother.
The 18 yr old has 2 weeks to find a place to live.
The 20 yr old has 2 weeks to find a job or she can go live with her brother.

Have a family meeting during which you outline your expectations for them as members of the household. If they do not uphold their end of the bargain, then you have no need to continue supporting them. Stop paying the cell phone bills and change the locks. Give them all 2 weeks to pull it together and then if they break the rules, they're out.

I'm sorry, but this is ridiculous and a reflection of a lifetime of being allowed to do whatever they want without consequences. If I EVER behaved in this manner towards my parents, I assure you I would have been cut-off immediately.

They don't respect you, but they sure as hell need you. They can't get their needs met unless you and your husband are shown the respect that you deserve. If they can't, well- they can go live with their other parents or find out what happens when you leave food on the counter all day and don't have $$ to buy more milk b/c you are living in your own place and you don't get paid until next week. It's a tough lesson, but they need to figure it out at some point.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

I completely agree with Krista P.

What does your husband say about all this?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I would say sell them to a band of gypsies but I don't think they have any real value at that age.

I am lucky, mine do pay their bills, cleaning not so much. Well not exactly true my older daughter cleans like a neat freak.

It is really dumb luck how they turn out to some extent.

I would say that the only reason my older two are offered a roof over their heads is that they are trying to get in the position to support themselves. One is in school full time the other is getting his funeral directors license (long story). If they were not then it would seem that is the lifestyle they choose to have for life. Well I am not a homeless shelter so they would have to move out.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

First if my kids (any age) stayed out all night they wouldn't be living in my home anymore. 2nd why are you paying for anything for these kids that are being disrespectful, inconsiderate, selfish & bouncing back & fourth to whatever home suits them at the time?

The only options at their age should be college, military, or job.
Stop being a floormat & demand respect otherwise you are helping them fail in life. It's ok for them to fall flat on their face that will mean they will either bounce back & become productive citizens or they will become losers BUT it's their choice, right now you are enabling them to be losers and until they are pushed out of the nest you have no idea what they are capable of.

Say what you mean & mean what you say, that's all you have left at this point.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

Yikes, sounds like you have your hands full. My big question to you would be: is this all new behavior, or is the natural result of how they grew up? People don't tend to all of a sudden become like this. It takes years and years of training (or lack of it). I'm sure the dynamics of a blended family make things much trickier. These things never have occured in our house, but we worked toward this end all of their lives. We didn't wake up one day and say, "What happened and who are these people with no respect?" We wouldn't put up with back talk at 3 and 4 or 12 or 15, etc. We taught them responsibility all along. We nurtured our relationships with them. Our oldest is 19, and we also have a 17 year old (and 4 more down the line). They work hard and contribute to the household. The 19 year old owns his own company. I would suggest you either raise the bar much higher, or tell them it is time to move on. You are not doing them or yourselves any favors by coddling them in this gross behavior. Stop paying their bills when they behave this way. However, remember that you and your husband contributed to this lifestyle by letting it get this far. So, you need to change, too. I hope you can work on these things so that your relationships are built up and not destroyed forever.

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answers from San Antonio on

First of all I understand your frustration! I have 19 and 21 yr old sons living with me. They stink! Literally, they stink! OMG their room always smells!

I love my boys more than anything! BUT I have some of the same issues. Except for the disrespectful yelling to my husband their step dad. I won't put up with that. The one thing that I can say that HAS MADE A HUGE difference in our lives.............we eat dinner TOGETHER EVERY NIGHT.
It is amazing how much better the whole family gets along when you sit together to eat and talk about your day. We have done this for a long time now. It helps us stay connected and actually speak to each other.

I do think that if they are being disrespectful it needs to stop. If it takes having them leave so be it. BUT you and your husband need to agree on it.

For you my dear, you need to find some time to unwind. Do you go to church? Have a friend to hang out with? You need to have YOU TIME! Away from all the BS before you lose it on all of them!!

Good luck and GOD BLESS!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

I agree with Krista P.
Be prepared to change the locks when their 2 weeks are up.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Ok. I'm going to (mostly) disagree with the previous posters.
What I do agree with is that they are adults, and should be treated as such, and also that treating you and your husband with respect is important.
But I don't agree on "just throw the bastards out." Your husband doesn't consider that an option, and it could permanently damage your relationship with them.

First steps first, you and your husband have to get on the same page. The fact that there isn't a single set of rules is causing chaos. Do what you need to come to some basic agreements about how to handle each child. Go away for a night. Go to counseling. Something.

Here are some suggestions:
1) your stepdaughter. I guessed that she was in college. So she's been home for about 2 weeks without a job, correct? Her apartment is too far from her boyfriend? Obviously not a college boyfriend?

I agree that you shouldn't pay for the cell phone in the summer. Or gas.Or anything optional. Car insurance is just silly to have "summer rules" about. however, tell her that you are happy to support her while she's in school, but in the summer you expect her to take care of her non-essential expenses, including her cell bill. If she doesn't give you X by X day of the month (approximately her portion of the family share plan), you'll suspend her service until she does pay up or until she's back in school in the fall. As to the rest, there's nothing like looking at an empty tank of gas and $4 a gallon gas to motivate a job search! Not a punishment, but natural consequences.
2) your son. Yep, he's an 18 year old boy. I'm guessing he has a job, but is not going to college in the fall? Let him know that you appreciate that he's an adult now, but if he wants to live in your house he has to follow certain rules, and that these rules have changed now that he's no longer in high school. Did you previously clean his room? Did you just deal with a disgusting mess in the past? Did he have a curfew, and now you are letting him stay out as long as he texts? Discuss what is different and why.
Assume he's an idiot when you set the rules, and that anything vague is bad. His idea of clean is drastically different than yours, so come up with a mutually agreeable definition. (no really, he may have thought his room was clean enough.) Also, if he leaves food out, don't replace it, let him know you expect him to replace it. Again, natural consequences, not a punishment.
Finally, a really great line I used, almost by accident on my daughter - we had a similar rule about texting when she was out, and I think she still felt we were trying to control her. In frustration one day I said "I do it because I care about your safety. How would you feel if I woke up at 5 Am, had no communication from you, and just went back to sleep?" She never missed a text again. (Also, we had a rule that if we didn't get a text, we would call her at any hour, and keep calling until she answered.)
3) Your stepson. Do remember that even though he was at a house party (bad), he hadn't been drinking (good). What kind of kid is he otherwise? And finally, yelling at his dad like that is not OK, but that is your husband's issue to deal with, not yours. I'm surprised that going home to mom is a viable option, if both your kids are living with you. Is it an empty threat, because he knows it will upset dad? I say, let him go home for the summer if that is what he wants, as long as it really is viable. My guess is that he'll either come crawling back, or he'll stay there and either way things will be better. Again, natural consequences.

Finally, treating your kids as adults includes not just demanding respect, but treating them with respect. Look at your own actions. You talk a lot about yelling and rules and laying down the law. Are you respectful? Kids (and adults) model the behavior around them. Calmly insist on what you need for your own sanity, and pre-discuss consequences with your husband first. Then simply follow through. Don't yell, and don't belittle. if you do it to them, expect them to do it to you.



answers from Des Moines on

I am having issues and I have tried very hard over the past 8 years to teach my partner and his boys about picking up after themselves. I do believe that there needs to be rules. I grew up with rules and I worked from the age of 12, however I did not have a choice if I wanted my own shampoo and bathroom supplies. It's just the way it was but it taught me the value of a buck. The problem I have is that my partner's oldest who is 18 moved in with us because he was not getting along at his mom's and he did not feel he had his freedom. I finally gave in and said, he could move in with us, but we sat down all three of us and discussed rules, his expectations and that if he was not going to school or work on a particular day, that he had to do one chore in the house. Ya right!!! We only ask that he cleans up after himself and keeps his room clean. This morning I went to the basemement to check it out, as my partner said that it was cleaned. I could hardly see the basement floor. In front of the laundry room, were his dirty underwear....could not put them in the laundry room but infront for everyone to see when entering the house. Every corner of the basement had dirty clothes, towells, cords, games.....junk. His room smells and this is extremely dissapointing to me as he is NOT keeping his end of the bargain, yet, he gets the car more than he should even though he has a bus pass, money, and the odd time smokes from me and money from me. I did get quite upset but it really, really urks me beyond belief. There is no exuse for it, none at all. I mean I know men are men and boys will be boys, but this is enought for me to want to pack up and leave. I have tried to help them, talk to them in a nice tone.....it goes through one ear and out the other. But, now I understand why his mother did not have much faith in him and why they faught. I told him last week that I would help him and his GF with money to go camping but I have changed my mind as I strongy feel, he just does not deserve it!! I hate the fact that I work full time, go home to tend to the house, cleaning, maintaining the garden and he cannot even put a damn dish in the diswasher ya know. No excuse what's so ever. I do believe that tough love works...and spoiling them doesn't!! This woman has had enough!!


answers from Biloxi on

No offense, but my 15 year old son does more around the house than all your children combined.

It boils down to - your house, your rules. If they want the privilege of living there, and all the perks that come with it - food, phones, insurance, cars, etc. then they have to respect the house rules. Check the local rental ads and get a feel for what the rent is for a room w/private bath in your area - that is what the two high school graduates should be paying you. Trust me, it will still be a bargain with food included.

Give everyone of them a deadline -
20 year old - if you are paying for the apartment she doesn't live in, then cancel the lease. Tell her that you will no longer pay her bills after X date.
18 year old - Same thing - after X date you are not paying his way.
17 year old - same things - after X date you are not paying his way.

The 17 and 18 year olds - if they don't have the cash offer them a trade - give them a list of household chores - dishes, laundry, vaccuuming, lawn mowing, etc. assign each a $ value and let them work for their housing. Give them a trail period - if they don't man up then they need to move out. Let the 17 year old go live with his mother - tell him to stay there until he finishes high school.

Wedding - yeah right. Many people pay for their own these days - I say start that as your new family tradition.

I cannot even begin to comment on the lack of support you receive from your husband - sticking his head in the sand will not make these kids grow up.

I am so sorry that you are dealing with it on your own.

Do I sound harsh? Yup, my son knows that he has three options after he graduates high school
1. full time college and I will help as much as I can
2. part time college part time job he can live at home and contribute $$ to the house
3. out on his own in 6 months

This was the way I was raised - and I turned out okay. LOL

Good Luck
God Bless

Then, the hard part - stick to it.


answers from Austin on

High school graduates should be expected to go to college/and or get a job/jobs. The Military is also an excellent career.

If the child has not achieved any of this by a certain time period, no more financial support should be given. Stop the cell, gas money, clothing allowance.. Cook what you want. If they are not home for set meals, oh well so sad too bad..

IF they have a job, it may not pay enough to cover all living expenses. So a conversation about continued partial financial support could be discussed or rent may be requested by the owners of the house if the adult child wants/need to live at home.

House rules apply to ALL occupants.
Even if this child lived with roommates, he would be expected to pay for food, keep the place clean and close the door! Heck our daughter says up at college even there they tell each other when they are going out and expected to be back..They also update at least 1 person so that in case something were to happen, someone always knows where they each are,,Even my husband and I do this with each other,,

I hope his moms home will also have the same rules.

These adult children are not OWED anything. They are part of the family and being part of the family has expectations when you live in someone elses home..

Be strong. DO NOT allow ANYONE to EVER walk all over you like this. You and your home deserve respect.

I am sending you strength.



answers from Washington DC on

A wedding? Hers? I'd tell him no, we've been paying her insurance and cell phone and if she's big enough to get married and go to college, she's big enough to get a job. Now, I know that a lot of people do get family help on weddings, but I think he needs to address what's in front of him first.

I was given work, military or school, and if I was home during the summer, I worked and helped with the bills, paid my own gas and insurance, etc. My stepson is required to work if he's here (he's 21) and while we support him, we also expect things like being here if we're out for the weekend and someone needs to feed the cats. If he's not going and he's working, he's helping out. Both my sks do chores (though minimal IMO), like dishes, rooms, laundry, cat litter. We don't put a curfew on SS but we do want to know if he'll be home at night or if DH should treat the noise at 3AM like an intruder.

If they think that they could do better elsewhere, let them. Just don't foot the bill when they are out of your home.

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