For Moms of 18 Year Old Boys About Them Craving Independence

Updated on April 21, 2017
Y.G. asks from New York, NY
20 answers

My 18 year old refuses to keep us in the loop of when he comes home at night. He wants to have the feeedom to just come home whenever he wants. We would generally be ok with him beingout until midnight or even 1am. But he doesn't want to give us timeframe, saying he will come when he comes home. I tell him I worry and he says that I shouldn't worry. He does not drink or smoke so I don't worry about that. It is more about the courtesy that my husband and I expect of him. I think that since he still lives at home that he should act like a family member with his parents and show some respect and common courtesy to let us know what his plans are and when he will be home. Am I being too unreasonable?

What can I do next?

  • Add your own comment
  • Ask your own question
  • Join the Mamapedia community
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

Hello everyone! First off, thank you for all your responses! I was overwhelmed by how many people responded and helped me and my husband with this situation! My son was on spring break 2 weeks ago and it was challenging almost every night because he would not want to commit to a timeframe of when he would be home. He wanted flexibility to come back home any time: midnight, 1, 2pm or maybe even later if they decided on the spur of the moment to go somewhere else. It was very difficult for us as we didn't know when to expect him and where he was. We waited until the end of the break and we sat him down. We explained to him that he is still a young 18 year old and that he lives with us. We both have stressful jobs and we wanted an environment at home that is stress free and where we can all get along and most of all we want our family to be where we as parents would not be staying up until 2 or 3pm wondering where our son was and praying he was safe. We basically established curfews for him. He already had a curfew of 10:30 pm on a school night and we agreed on 1am on the weekend. In fact, our son was the one who suggested 1am first and we gladly agreed as this is what my husband and I were going to say. So far, it's been ok, and he is following the curfew. We are glad that with the help and advise from all of you, we could resolve this! Thank you, all!

Featured Answers

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

M.G.

answers from Portland on

I don't think so. That was the deal when I was in college and came home in the summers. It wasn't to be monitored so much as being considerate. If you had a guest staying with you, an adult, and they went out - they would let you know when they intend to be home.

I wouldn't get into all the details about worrying and wanting to know where he is. A quick text when he's out just to let you know when he plans on being back is all that's needed. He can still come/go as he pleases, but it's a heads up.

Edit My Answer
3 moms found this helpful

C.T.

answers from Santa Fe on

If he has his own place then he doesn't have to let you know. Since he lives with you he has to let you know so you do not worry. It sounds like he needs to be more independent and move out soon! At the very least he needs to text you when he is out to give you an estimate of a time he will be home. I think what is happening is he is going with the flow when out with friends and doesn't know what time he will be home.

Edit My Answer
1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

R..

answers from San Antonio on

When I was 18, I was already off at college 6 hours away by car. No cell phones...I called home once a week on Sunday afternoons. My parents had no idea where I was or what I was doing.

When I came home they had very few rules. I did not have any sort of curfew but they did want to know where I was planning on going (so they knew where to start looking if I disappeared), around what time I expected to be home if I knew (like we are going to the 11:45pm movie of whatever then out to eat afterwards...I should be in by three am ish). And that I attend church with them on Sunday mornings as a family.

It was courteous of me to let them know when I would be home, where I was going for safety and they liked attending church as a family.

Considering they were paying for my college and I wasn't home that much it was totally fine with me to have a few rules in their home. It was their house and even if I was an "adult" I knew what side my bread was buttered on (they were covering my bills, except what my part time job paid for...).

My parents always told me they weren't worried what I was doing but about the other crazy people out there...I understood. I agree your son not wanting to follow a few simple rules of at least telling you when he expects to be home sounds very immature. But i also agree wording is everything...other posters have good ideas on that. Good luck.

6 moms found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

A.D.

answers from Minneapolis on

I think you should definitely be OK that he is out as late as he wants, he is 18. I would simply ask that he text you his plans as they develop. Don't expect him to know a timeframe in advance because most of the time, he's just going to want to be flexible and spontaneous. He's young, that is normal. Just ask for a short and simple, "movie ended, going to Dave's house" "on my way home from Dave's" or "crashing at Dave's tonight. I will be home tomorrow late morning" Make sure he knows that it is not that he needs to seek your approval, or needs to wait for your response, it's just a courtesy in case of emergency. The same you would extend your spouse to let the other know you are working late, or whatever. Talk about how he can enter the house quietly after the time you are asleep, and try to just treat him as an adult.

4 moms found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

K.G.

answers from Fort Myers on

He's still living with you, he should let you know. When I was his age, I let my parents know where I was going or who i was with and what time I would be home. I never felt like my parents were in my business. I felt like if something did happen, my parents knew where i was or which friend to call.

Your son is still new, young driver. As a parent you will always worry about your kids no matter how old they are. Ask him to give you an idea of when hes coming home.

4 moms found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

K.F.

answers from New York on

In the eyes of the law your 18 year old is an adult. Since he lives with you and not on his own. He shouldn't have a problem with complying with your wishes of knowing generally where he is and his expected time of return. If he can't comply, he is free to move out on his own.

Our boys are 22 and 21 respectively. We expect them to let us know generally when they will be coming home. I explained to them the last thing we want is to be startled in the middle of the night half way sleep by a shadowy figure. You know we hit first and ask questions later. LOL. Also we need to know if heaven forbid you go missing where to begin to try to find you.

My 28 year old neice also lives with us and she is really on top of letting us know when she will be home and how long she will be out of the house. She's funny. "If I get missing, I want you to know where to begin to find me."

Just let him know and treat him like an adult when talking to him. Pretend he is an out of town guest instead of your little boy.

4 moms found this helpful

B.C.

answers from Norfolk on

Once I was in college (I lived at home and had to commute - couldn't afford to live at college) - I could come and go as I pleased.
(I did have a curfew when I was in high school - that didn't exist when I was in college.)
I had my own keys to let myself in (had them since middle school).
The rule was - the wage earner (my Mom) needs sleep - do NOT wake the wage earner!
Oh, and don't do anything that was going to cost her any (more) money (if you think about it - that covers quite a lot).

For a few years - we left notes for each other on the fridge (no cell phones back then) - we barely saw each other.
But when we had the time - we'd go do things together - dinner out, go to a festival, one time we went to a Sha Na Na concert, another time we went to see Weird Al Yankovic.

We WERE acting like family members!
We were considerate of each others schedules and needs, we communicated, etc.
I never refused to tell her what I was doing - that's just immature.

4 moms found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

E.B.

answers from Honolulu on

Is he working or in school? If so, how are his grades, or his job performance? Is he on time for classes or work shifts? How does he get around (car, public transportation, etc)? Who funds his evening and late night entertainment, and how he gets to and from wherever he goes?

I went through a bit of this with my son. He too was not drinking or in any trouble, but it was worrisome when he'd be out late, and discourteous when he was expected home (for supper or something else) and failed to show up.

I tried asking him where he was going, or when he'd be home, and it just aggravated him and us, too. He said we didn't need to worry.

So we came up with a code. It relieved us (his parents) tremendously, and allowed our son to understand the importance of reassurance and to reply to us very simply. The code was (and still is) RUA&W. It means "are you alive and well". He would simply text back "A&W" (alive and well). We explained that as parents we'll always worry, but that we were now trying to grow up along with him, to need less information than we did when he rode his bike to his pal's house at age 10. We told him we appreciated that he was doing well in school, had good friends, and drove within the limits of the law. We tried to explain that it didn't stop us from worrying, because it's a big scary world out there, but that we were trying to help ourselves to understand that our "baby" was now a young man.

By not asking for too many details, simply an A&W, it solved a lot of problems. And with less stress on both our parts, he became a little more communicative as we became more relaxed. Maybe something like that would work for you?

4 moms found this helpful

D.B.

answers from Boston on

How is it that he is out so late? I mean, does he have a car? If so, who pays the payments, the insurance, etc.? Does he have a cell phone? If so, who pays for it (phone itself, service, data plan)? Does he pay rent and therefore he is an independent boarder in your home? Or is he living on your dime, in which case he is a family member?

And, may I ask, exactly how do you know he doesn't drink or smoke? Maybe he doesn't, but how would you know if he did? If kids are secretive or angry with their parents, sometimes they have something they are hiding.

Is he in school? Has he graduated and is living at home while working?

You have every right to common courtesy. It's not about worrying and whether that's reasonable. You have every right to know who is coming and going in your home. If you have extended to him the privilege of independence by providing him with room, board, laundry, personal shopping, transportation, a cell phone, and a computer with internet privileges, then he's got a lot of nerve blowing you off. It's disrespectful and dismissive.

If he's so independent that he doesn't want to do these things, then write up a rental agreement for his room/bathroom, kitchen and laundry privileges (which means he gets to use these spaces for his own cooking, clean-up, food shopping and clothes washing), transfer the vehicle title/registration/insurance to his name, and transfer the phone/internet fees to him (or charge him his percentage if it's a bundled plan). Otherwise, the price of these things for family members is consideration. You can also do location-sharing on the phone so you can see where he is at all times.

If he's always been inconsiderate and disrespectful, then you're stepping in late in the game and you need to look back at where things went wrong. But if this is new behavior, it's time to nip this in the bud. He will never have a relationship or a decent marriage if he doesn't think he has to be connected to someone else.

3 moms found this helpful

T.D.

answers from Springfield on

your house your rules. if he does not comply with them he should get his own place. its a p[erfectly reasonable rule. i myself followed a similar rule till i was 20 and moved out (my rule was be home by 1. period unless it was a night i closed then i had to be home 20 minutes after my shift ended so home by we closed at 2 so i had to be home by 220)

3 moms found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

S.B.

answers from Houston on

When my kids were in HS, they had a curfew. When they went off to college and came home for a visit, I asked to know roughly what time they would be home and to be quiet because we get up really early in the morning. It is very annoying when the kid comes home a 2 and we get up at 4!

I do not think you are unreasonable. Your house, your rules.

3 moms found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

J.B.

answers from Boston on

Is he still in high school and if so, will he be moving away to college in the fall? If so, I think it's totally reasonable to still basically have a curfew of sorts. If he's still in high school then for sure that applies to school nights and for weekends, nothing good happens after midnight and communication is a reasonable expectation. It's basically just a few more months under your roof before he has total freedom and he can wait until he's at school to not be accountable to anyone.

If he's out of school already and starting his adult life, things might be a bit different. My oldest (who just turned 19) graduated last year and still lives at home while working and going to school. Because this *is* his adult life for the next few years, I do try to give him the same level of freedom that he would have if he were living at school, within reason. That means that if he's going to crash at a friend's house, he lets me know by around 10 or 11 PM that he won't be home so that I lock up the house and shut off all the lights when I go to bed. He is generally home by midnight on weekends and will text me if he's going to be out later but hasn't come home after 1 AM unless he was driving back from a concert or late sporting event. We've recently had an issue where he's been coming in at 12 on work/school nights (I have younger sons at home as well) and the dog goes nuts barking and wakes me up, so he's making an effort to be in the house by 11 on week nights so that I don't have to get jolted awake after 12 by a barking dog. You're right - it is about respect and courtesy and you are not being unreasonable. It's normal for kids this age to chafe a bit as they are preparing to start their adult lives but hold the line on your expectations.

3 moms found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

J.C.

answers from Philadelphia on

I think that is a perfectly reasonable request. Your son not complying shows his immaturity in my opinion. My 19 yo daughter is away at college and still texts me every night letting me know she is safely in her dorm. She then text me each morning to just say "good morning."

3 moms found this helpful

V.B.

answers from Jacksonville on

No. You are not.

I also have an 18 year old son at home (about to leave for boot camp). He and his friends tend to make spur of the moment plans, so he is reluctant to commit to a specific time he will be home, and I understand that. However, he is in communication with me via text at some point to let me know when he expects it will be, if it will be late. When he is working he is home before midnight during the week, so he can get up the next morning.
When he is not working the next day, he has come in as late as 1:30 a.m., or has texted around 1:00 a.m. to say he is just going to stay at his friend's rather than drive home (we live approx 25-35 miles from where most of his friends live... in the boonies, while they are in town).

It hasn't really been an issue on nights when I have to get up the next morning, but there was one Sunday night he went to a late movie and was just going to stay at a friends, but then decided to just come home after all. I was annoyed with him b/c he texted to tell me he was staying, i went to bed, then he texted to say he was coming home, and I can't go back to sleep when he hasn't made it in yet so late.

Generally he is super considerate when he comes in... quiet, doesn't wake anyone with the door, or cabinets or anything inside. But like I suspect is the case for many moms, I don't rest well until he is home. So a work night for me, is hard if he isn't in before 11:00 or midnight. I did tell him that, and he is pretty good about it. Not sure if it is b/c he is aware and cognizant and considerate, or it just works out that way b/c he is working or his friends have to get up to work, or whatever.

But is it a reasonable expectation that he let you know what his plans are? Yes, but not in the same way he did when he was a minor and high school student. (at least, that's my opinion.) He is living in your home, and must be considerate of the rest of the household. But doesn't really have to have your *permission* to do things/go places. I solved half the problem by just telling him that I wasn't planning on him for dinner unless he specifically told me he would be home. Too many times I expected him only to have him text or call and say he was going to Jacksonville with a friend to look at a car, or was going to a movie, or had a date or whatever. Nice that he shared, but too late to alter any dinner plans I had made. More often than not, he was not joining us, so I went with the averages and just said, "I'm not making anything for you unless you tell me you'll be home to eat." There is always deli meat and bread for sandwiches, or frozen dinners in the freezer, so ...

You do have to stop micromanaging him. You do. He isn't going to know what time he will be home when he sets out in the morning, most likely. I remember my early college days. I didn't know what the evening would hold by lunch most days. It was an evolving thing as the day wore on. And as a young adult, many times plans with friends were decided on AFTER work was over... after 5 pm. Depending on how you felt then. As long as he is being respectful and considerate when he does come in, and communicates (at some point before you feel the need to send out a search party) what time he expects to roll in, then I think you have to let it go a little.
--
Also, I found that when I just mentally checked myself out of being his monitor, and stopped allowing myself to plan around whether or not he would be home, and stopped asking him about his specific plans... he started contacting ME to say "me and XX are going to the movie." I'd respond by asking if he was eating while he was out, and he'd usually say yes. "Ok, enjoy the movie. I love you."

His taking the initiative to contact me started when *I stopped* tracking him down for the information and demanding he provide it. (sounds harsh, but really it's just over-bearing-helipcopter-mothering)

2 moms found this helpful

K.A.

answers from San Diego on

It is not unreasonable to expect some common courtesy of anyone living in your home, no matter the age. I was living at home into my 20s. I always gave my parents an idea of what I was doing, where I was going and when I expected to be home. If plans majorly changed I would call to let them know so they wouldn't worry. Even as a married adult, my husband and I have always called if we're running late and let each other know what our plans are, even on business trips.
Being respectful of others in the same household is not a loss of independence, it is simply common courtesy to people who care about your well being.

2 moms found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

G.♣.

answers from Springfield on

Annette has offered a nice compromise.

When I was home from college on break or over the summer, my parents usually asked me to call if I wasn't going to be home by a certain time. I think I even called if I was going to Amy's house instead of Paula's ... just so they would know.

Remember, if he were away at school you wouldn't know if he was home or out or at a friend's apartment. I'm sure he's aware of this, so he could be feeling as though living at home means being treated like a baby.

Maybe just say, "Hey, if you're not going to be home by 12:00, would you mind sending me a quick text?" He might be more open to that suggestion. Sometimes it's all in how you word it.

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

M.6.

answers from New York on

I guess I wouldn't expect any family member to just show up whenever they feel like it, including an 18 yr old still living at home. I don't just come home "whenever I feel like it" and neither does my husband. It is disrespectful and discourteous.

We've set some very hard and fast rules with 6 kids, all but 2 of which are now over 18. When they were in high school, they had a fairly early curfew, 10 on the weekdays and 11 on the weekends. Once they graduated, it went to 11 and midnight. Why? Because living at home isn't supposed to be a jolly good time. Living at home provides kids with comfort at a cost. We don't charge rent, we cooked the meals and washed the clothing. In return, the kids follow our rules. If they didn't like it, they could certainly move out and pay their own rent and answer to no one but themselves. The choice was always up to them and it wasn't an ultimatum, but rather a natural consequence of living for free in our home.

I think one of the reasons for the "boomerang generation" is less about not being able to afford living on their own, but rather the "convenience" with which they are provided when they DO live at home. I guess I'd still be living at home if I could do whatever I wanted, whenever and didn't pay much (or not at all) and basically just made my income wholly disposable . . . who WOULD leave :)

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

J.C.

answers from Anchorage on

Is he still in high school? If yes then you are not unreasonable to still expect a curfew and the like. I lived with my mother while attending college and I would not have been okay with her checking up on me at that point. I appreciated the place to stay, and did my share of the house work ect to "earn my keep" so to speak, but I was an adult and she treated me as such, otherwise I probably would have moved into the dorms.

Now, if his coming home late at night is disruptive and wakes you up then you have every right to set rules, you have a right to be undisturbed in your own home at night.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

D..

answers from Miami on

Do you pay for his cell phone? Do you pay for his car insurance? Gas money? Did you buy him a car or does he use your car?

If the answer to any of these question is "yes", then you have the right to give him a curfew. And he needs one.

If he is graduating this year, he needs to either be going off to school or finding an apartment of his own if he wants to live in your house without any rules. Period.

You are not being unreasonable. You need to show him that if he wants all this freedom, he has to take the responsibility of an adult - not just get the fun part of being one...

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

N.B.

answers from Oklahoma City on

He's 18. He could pack a bag and go live anywhere he wants today, right now. It's time for you to cut the strings and just let him know that you love him and worry when you don't know where he is.

If he's graduating in a few weeks he's probably going to be moving out anyway. So give him the independence he wants and be glad for every moment you have with him at home.

My grandson turned 18 in December and is currently trying to find a co-signer for his first apartment. He isn't working but as long as he is in school he gets a monthly check from my ex-husband that will cover his portion of the rent.

Next question: Fair Curfew