Almost 18 Year Old Girl High Schooler - How Much Independence?

Updated on September 20, 2019
K.C. asks from Tampa, FL
18 answers

Hi everyone! I can't believe that my oldest is almost 18. I've been using this site for many years and I've loved it. As mentioned my daughter is almost 18 and a Senior in HS. She has her license, a car and a job and is an excellent student. Since she is still living under our roof, we still have set rules. For instance, we ask her send to us her work schedule every week. This morning she questioned why she would have to do that since we're not driving her anymore. I spoke to that question and all is good. However, it makes me wonder what other parents are doing now that they have this age still living at home, a student/worker/driver. How independent do you let them be? What sort of rules do you have in place? I have the "find my iPhone" app and can track their driving so we've loosened up on texting "I'm Here" when she's reached her destination. Was that wise? We've not been what is referred to as "helicopter parents" but we are aware of the reality of this world and are probably more historically strict than other parents. Thank you for your thoughts and advice.

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answers from Anchorage on

Honestly at this point, unless she is really okay with it, I would stop tracking her phone. By the time I was 17 I came and went as I pleased. I worked a full time job, kept good grades, and didn't get into trouble so there was no reason to not treat me like an adult. Unless my kids give me a reason to need to be so restrictive I will also treat my children like the adults they are when they are 17. I have to prepare them for life outside my home and it won't happen if I wait until they leave to start letting them be independent.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

She is 18 and legally an adult. Asking for her itinerary and tracking her phone are overkill.
She should be paying her share of the phone bill and should be contributing to food and utility bills.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Washington DC on

My 19 year old son calls or texts me from college to let me know what's going on. He doesn't HAVE to - he chooses to.

When he comes home for breaks? He still needs to follow our rules.

Doesn't matter if you can drive yourself - there are still stupid people out there and we want to know you are safe.

Working? Great! Just let me know your schedule so I can plan for dinner/meals in general.

Laundry - you wear it? You wash it! Used the last of the detergent? Replace it.

My 17 year old doesn't have his license YET - just his permit - so he has to give me his schedule so I can drive him where he needs to be for his job (he does landscaping stuff).

My oldest son? Yeah - this weekend he was at another college for a frat party and was introduced to a new girl...he said he heard my helicopter blades beating all the way at school....LOL...

We still want to know when and where they are. It's called common courtesy.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I think your approach is totally reasonable. Adults in a household still know each others' schedules. It's a matter of courtesy and practicality. If she keeps her schedule on a calendar (like Google), maybe it can be a little more of a passive exercise by having her share it with you so you can see the info on your calendar. But it's not an unreasonable expectation.

After graduation, you might get to a point where you don't need to know her schedule. My oldest son (21) lives at home and works full time. His sister is the same age and she went away to college. I realized that I didn't know what she was doing or where she was 24/7, so it was fine to not have an accounting of his schedule and whereabouts either after a while. He works a regular schedule though and rarely eats at home, so I don't have to think about whether or not to set a place for him for dinner or anything. He usually leaves for work before I'm up so if he's going into work late or not at all, he'll usually text me or leave me a note so that I don't wake him up when I see his car in the driveway and worry that he overslept his alarm and is late for work. If he is going to be home for dinner, he'll text and ask if I'm cooking and have enough for him or should he plan on picking something up. If there is an important family thing that I need him to attend, I'll let him know in advance to block the time off on his calendar. Other than that, he just comes and goes and it works for us.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

it's for sure time to think about what 'rules' are actually needed for the pleasant and peaceful running of your household and what ones are held over from a need to be in control of your kids.

when mine started driving, i started unclenching my fingers from the reins. it wasn't a huge stretch for us as we've always been 'try it and see' parents as opposed to 'omg no you might get hurt' ones, but it's hard for all of us to really let young adults start practicing adulting.

rather than demand the schedule, why not try requesting it? but first you have to think about your reasons for wanting it. planning dinner is a good reason. micromanaging her time is not. maybe be prepared to allow some flexibility in there. maybe she doesn't have to give you her schedule, but you'd still appreciate knowing when she'll be home for dinner, and if there are going to be any nights when she'll be home later than 11.

i think your decision to stop requiring constant location texts is a good one.

the best way to start re-negotiating your rules for your young adults is to discuss it with THEM. when they have a say in the process, and understand your reasoning AND have the experience of you actually listening respectfully to theirs, everyone benefits.

the details will vary from household to household but there's nothing that teaches responsible adulthood like responsibility.


6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I've been in the same situation and the way to frame this with your young adult is that she is a member of a household and because of this she needs to communicate her schedule so nobody is worried about her. When I am running late I'll give my hubby a call to let him know. I don't do it because he needs to keep tabs on me I do it because he expects me to be home around a certain time and if I'm not there he will worry.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I think you have the right to do anything you want. However, you might want to loosen up a bit. Here's why:

She's going to be on her own entirely in a year, right? Unless you think she'll be living at home and commuting to college locally, she'll likely be on a college campus or in her own apartment. With no one to report to/check in with! That kind of freedom can be overwhelming to someone who hasn't had any of it, and she might actually not do so well with it. So if we expect our kids to magically jump into 100% independence, we need to let them screw up a little (or a lot) when we're still nearby to pick up the pieces. She'll either do great (since she's already responsible and maintaining grades and a job), or she'll drop the ball and you'll be able to help her restructure her thought process or scheduling or judgment or whatever it was that was off. Or, she'll do it on her own without you ever having to say "I told you so."

When I dropped my son off at college, I went to the parent orientation and was told, nicely, that my job was done except to pay bills. There were plenty of parents in deep shock to hear that they were not to call professors, not to call RAs, not to call Health Services, not to call the dean to see what was up. They were a mess. And many of their kids didn't do so hot. One of my son's friends never used an ATM until senior year because his mom drove 3.5 hours each way every few weeks to bring him cash. Really! So, I think it was easier for us and also that our son adjusted more easily because we had opened up the doors a bit during senior year.

So, perhaps if she's just at school or work, you don't need to know all of that. If she's within the town limits or within a certain group of friends, maybe that's okay if you don't know every detail. Maybe there are a few places outside the town that are "usual haunts" (mall, movie theater, whatever), and those are okay with you in general. So you don't really need to know which one she's at. Our deal was that our son was within the town (getting pizza, ice cream, whatever) or at one of a dozen or so houses that were the usual hangouts for the track team (ours was one of them, actually). Parents knew they would only have to call a few houses to find their kid in an emergency, and we all knew we were watching out for each other's kids - even if it meant we were in the kitchen whipping up platters of pasta and meatballs for kids who were watching movies in our basement without telling their parents exactly which home they were in.

If you need to know because of, say, making dinner, then you can say you'll assume she's taken care of unless you hear otherwise. She should be doing her own laundry and buying a lot of her own supplies even if you are picking up the tab. Maybe you can give her a budget and let her work on it - finding out the hard way how tough it is when she's out of money on the 20th and there's not more coming in until the 30th. That's a great life lesson and good preparation for being on her own!

Let her fall down a little without blasting her - she'll learn without you rubbing it in. We let our little kids take their first steps and trying pouring milk from the carton even though we knew it would end in disaster. But THEY had to experience the disaster themselves. Sure, we kept them from the really dangerous stuff like playing with the stove or running into traffic, but the moderate stuff is okay. I'd let your daughter know that you're not going to check every step of the way, and you trust her to figure it out. Let her know you're open if she needs help. Then push yourself to not track her phone all the time.

Now, if she heads to the city for a major rock concert or she's taking a highway trip or a weekend getaway, that's another story. But my son is 30 and lives elsewhere, and while he doesn't report in all the time by any means, he still shares a few photos from his weekend away and he absolutely sends me his flight or train itinerary if he's going to be in some other part of the country. I think that's because he realizes that there's a reasonable amount of worry, and an unreasonable amount.

I'd urge you to consider loosing the reins now, not because you have to, but because it's part of teaching her more skills by giving her more confidence and trust. If she screws up royally, you can always go back to something more structured "until she's mature enough to handle it."

And do give her an option of a code word or code text (something unique to your family) that she can use if she's in a rough situation and needs help or needs Mom to be the bad guy and extricate her from it. You don't want her afraid to come to you when stuff happens she couldn't foresee.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

When my oldest turned 18 and even when he was 19 when he was living at home I wanted to know when he worked just so we could know how to plan meals and at type of thing. If he was going to come in late I wanted to know. Its called respect. He is now 20 and lives on his own and when he leaves my house late when he visits I want to know he's made it home safely. (Sometimes he forgets) But I don't feel that asking for a work schedule and knowing when she got somewhere is too much.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Abilene on

My daughter was 17 her entire senior year. Because we lived 45 minutes from the city she spent most of her time, she texted to let me know when she had arrived and when she was leaving. I also asked her to let me know if plans changed (because at this age, it does frequently). I explained it was what I needed to be comfortable with her driving in a rural area.

She gave me a bit of grief over it towards the end of her senior year. Each time I explained it wasn't because I didn't trust her, it was safety. There is about a 15 mile trek that you don't have cell service and I needed to know if I needed to come looking for her. Which happened once and she was really glad she let me know she was on her way when I found her after it had been enough time for her to be back.

She's in the military and recently shared with me that she thought her dad and I were a bit strict sometimes and it pissed her off then. Now she realizes we loved her and were doing our job as her parents. She said a lot of her military friends do not have relationships with their parents and she's grateful we always have her back.

So, just to let you know, it's perfectly normal and she will probably push back some. Our job as parents (IMO) is to gradually relinquish daily living tasks to our kids. Prepare them to stand on their own (dorm/college/military). If we don't, we're not preparing them adequately and as Diane mentioned, sometimes the kids don't do well when they go from being managed to managing on their own.

Find the balance of giving more and more freedom. I explained to my daughter as I gave more and more freedom to her that it came with responsibility and to realize that if she broke my trust, it would take a very long time to build it back. She was always very careful to keep my trust intact. I have a soon to be 16 year old son who I'm having that very conversation with now. Freedom = Responsibility - you can't have one without the other.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

We have one this age - ours lets us know his plans and when will be home, etc.

We did buy an older car for our teens and they pay the insurance, gas, etc. They are expected to help with drives for younger kids and to do the odd errand.

So they touch base before coming home from work, etc. If I need milk, it's not unheard of they would go get, and if someone needs to be picked up - they would do.

As for rules about curfews and such - we have them. I did not, and I know what I did. I wished I had boundaries.

I am not so strict that my kids would rebel.

I have a very open and casual relationship with my kids in some regards, and I know what is going on. I know some parents buy booze for their kids and those kids take it to parties. I know when parties are being held (when parents are not there) and when girls stay over. I know their parents think parents are there supervising. I have plenty of nieces and nephews so my siblings have been through this.

I don't think of it as being 'strict' so much as being savvy and wise to what is going on. I just ask that my teens are somewhat respectful and as long as show they are responsible, then they get some more freedom, and it goes like that.

While still in high school, there are definitely rules.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I think that some of these decisions you're asking about depend on who's paying. For example, are you making car payments on her car, or paying for the insurance and gas? If so, then you have the right to know where the car is and when, especially if it's in your name or on your credit report or insurance policy. If she makes the car payments or owns the car, and if she pays for the insurance and gas and maintenance, then she has more freedom.

And some of the decisions depend on how responsible the teen is. If your daughter has an excellent work record (prompt, doesn't miss work for lazy excuses) then she shouldn't have to be responsible to both you and to her employer. If, however, she said she was at work on Saturday night but actually was out partying with friends, or if she oversleeps most of the time when she should be at work, then you have the right to see her work schedule.

Regarding the tracking to see if she's reached her destination, I'd loosen up on that one if she doesn't miss school or work. I'd save it for a situation where she is driving a long distance, such as driving several hours to visit her grandmother, for example, or in case of very stormy or icy weather. Otherwise, trust that she's where she said she would be.

It sounds as though your daughter is responsible, considerate, and dependable. So in that case, I'd relax on the rules and just tell her that now that she's an adult, and has a proven track record of being trustworthy, the rules will be evolved into basic consideration for each other as family. If she's going out of town for the weekend, she should let you know. If there's an important school event (senior events that the family will attend), she should make sure that you're aware of those. If she is planning to bring a friend home or planning to have a group of teens at the house for to watch a movie, she should give you notice. If she's paying for her phone or car, then the responsibility for those items is hers. If you're paying, you still retain some authority over those things, but not the micro-managing that you did when she was 15 and hadn't proven herself.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

My daughter is 21 and hasn’t lived at home since she started college. We think it is common curtesy to at least check in to say goodnight at the end of the day. Fortunately, my daughter text me some what frequently throughout the day when she can. (ie she always says good morning or have a happy day). Hopefully you have a good relationship with your daughter and she respects your feelings on this matter.


My daughter is 21 and hasn’t lived at home since she started college. We think it is common curtesy to at least check in to say goodnight at the end of the day. Fortunately, my daughter text me some what frequently throughout the day when she can. (ie she always says good morning or have a happy day). Hopefully you have a good relationship with your daughter and she respects your feelings on this matter.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Seems most folks have given advice about the need to gradually increase your daughter's independence. I love the aspect that family rules are about being respectful.

So I think it's fine if your daughter let's you know what nights she's going to be home for dinner, but not necessary that she let's you know when she worked and when she socialized. The difference is respectful of you and respectful of her need for independence.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

She'll be 18 soon - and at that age she can marry or join the military without your permission or be tried as an adult if she commits a crime and vote.
A few more things will come along when she turns 21 but she's effectively an adult.
She'll be off to a dorm soon and then she won't be checking in with you all the time.
What you want to do now is just have rules regarding living politely together.

When I turned 18 and was in college (I lived at home through college) my mom was pretty clear I could come and go as I pleased.
She was working, needed her sleep - and all she wanted was that I not wake her when she was sleeping.
This was before cell phones - so the fridge was our message center - we'd leave notes for each other there.
When we had time we still did things together.

Your daughter sounds like she's doing fine so you can relax a bit.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Well at almost 18 you have to let go of most of your rules of her being a child. Think about what you would expect of her as an adult. Start thinking as if you were a roommate. What would you want from her? That is the direction you want to go. To teach her what she’d need to do to live with others. For sure she would not want a housemate to track her phone so stop that except in an emergency. A housemate would expect her to do her part in caring for the house so sit down and negotiate who does what. She needs to learn responsibility the last year she is at home and that includes her part in shopping and meals. It does not include giving you her daily schedule. See where I’m going here? You should shift your thinking towards what she needs to learn to live on her own and less as making you comfortable as a mom. It’s tricky to navigate as a parent but so important to help her get ready to be on her own.

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answers from Tampa on

I just think that it’s a matter of making kids understand that even though we trust them.. unfortunately at times it’s other people. She should text you just so you don’t worry..

Just explain we now live in much more dangerous times. It’s her safety you are concerned about not trust. Just so you as a mom have a peace of mind. That’s all.

I don’t think anything is wrong with a simple text. I also think yes kids should have rules while living at the house. Like curfew, grades etc.

Ps I watch ID channel from time to’s scary what is going on out there, even in small town that all know each other.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Well here is my two cents...She is 18 but still living under your roof. The way we presented it to our daughter who is now 22 was like this, if you don't like the rules move out and so she did. She moved in with her mom but hates it there. But yes, she is your daughter and needs to abide by your rules.

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answers from San Francisco on

Imo she shouldn't have to send you her work schedule at her age. She is on the verge of being an adult, so this is where you loosen the reins, especially when she's a good kid/student. My main rules when my kids were that age was to let me know where they were so I wouldn't worry. That's just being kind to mom, because mom loves them. Other than that, they had a lot of freedom. Next year your daughter will be in college, so this is the year where you start backing away, so she knows how to handle herself next year.

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