My Newly Graduated 18 Year Old Stays Out All Night Long.

Updated on July 11, 2019
D.D. asks from Jamestown, RI
10 answers

My 18 year old thinks he should be able to stay out all night without letting me know where he is. He does have a job and will be attending a local college near by and living at home. He can be very disrespectful and manipulative. I’m at my wits end. He can not live on his own. He doesn’t drink or do drugs. (Sober for 1 1/2 years) no signs of use.

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So What Happened?

Thank you for the feedback. My son can not live on his own just yet due strictly because of finances. I'm confident he is not using drugs because he has been tested many times and he takes pride in his sobriety. A few years back he was out of control (weed and alcohol only but I definitely addicted) and I think I may be overly concerned about keeping him on the right path. When he is asked about staying out he claims he was at a friend's and will not explain any more.

More Answers


answers from Norfolk on

I think some teens need to separate themselves emotionally from parental family as a way of eventually gaining some maturity.
They act out quite a bit to push the old boundaries - and do their level best to drive you up a wall.

He's an adult now and that comes with some perks and responsibilities.
He is now able to marry, join the military, enter into contracts, take out student loans without parental permission and if caught committing a crime he can be charged as an adult.
On your end - you are no longer obligated to provide him with food, clothing and shelter.
You don't have to pay for his car, gas, car insurance, cell phone, computer or devices either.
Not that you wouldn't help him while he's in college - but you are not legally obligated.
Which means you can stop offering support when ever you want to.

It's nice if everyone knows where they stand.
A re-negotiation of boundaries is needed.
You and son sit down and decide what the new rules are - both of you need to decide what success should look like and then take the steps that need to happen to make it happen.
If he could afford to live on campus you would not know where he was, what he was doing or when he was doing it.

I lived at home while I was going to college.
There were no cell phones back then.
All my mom wanted me to understand was that she was the wage earner, she paid the bills, she needed her sleep - and do NOT disturb the wage earner unless it was a life and death emergency.

So I could - and did - come and go as I pleased pretty much around the clock.
The fridge was our message board - all communication/notes were left there for the other to read - and for a few years we hardly knew we lived in the same house.
She went to bed before I got home, she went to work before I woke up, I'd be at school when she got home, etc.
Back then working on a computer meant you spent a lot of time in a terminal room on campus and if I had a project that required working through the night I'd call home (pay phone - I had to keep some change on hand) and let my Mom know I'd be pulling an all nighter.

But this wasn't contentious - we weren't arguing or fighting.
When grades came out I let her know the grades I earned.
If our schedules were open we'd do things together - see a lilac festival, see Sha Na Na, or take a trip together (we shared the driving)..
If I was traveling long distance by myself - I'd call home to let Mom know I got there ok.

It became less of a parent child relationship and more adult to adult relationship - and that's certainly an adjustment for everyone involved.

There are lots of things he could be doing all night.
Video gaming could easily be it - and preferable to sex and/or drugs.
From teens to mid 20's it's easy to burn your candle on both ends.
He'll out grow it eventually.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

You don't say why you he can't live on his own.

So if the only problem is he stays out all night long (is this at a girlfriend's place I take it?), you have to come to an agreement on what's acceptable. At 18, some people live in dorms or in apartments - so this would be the 'norm' for them, to not have to report in with their parents.

It's tricky when still living at home with parents - you have to come up with some agreement with what will be ok (i.e. respectful) for you.

If you want him home by a certain time, then say we want you home by .. maybe you have to extend it to later.

The thing is, for some people it's that they are drinking and don't want to drive, so it's easier to stay over. If he's not drinking, then I am assuming there's a girl and he's spending the night.

You need to figure out WHY he's spending the night with someone. If it's not alcohol or a girl then what's the need?

Anyhow, figure that out, set limits (your right if at home), be reasonable (extend curfew as he gets older), set consequences if he doesn't respect rules, and then follow up. He doesn't live there any more. You don't explain why he has to live at home.

This is a hard one to answer without all the info. If you added info, we'd be able to give more helpful answers :)

8 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

All of the advice below is excellent and valid. You have everything you need in terms of advice in order to evaluate and deal with your situation.

The only things I want to add/emphasize are: Kids often act disrespectfully in your son's situation because what they really want, at their core, is to be out of the house and free from the supervision of their parents. They feel like they are now adults (and technically, at 18 they are) although we parents, of course, know that they still have a lot to learn. Rational or not, right or wrong, they often bristle at any kind of supervision or questioning because of their inner need to start their own lives and be free of parental controls. Unfortunately, the cost of college and living on their own these days often prohibits their freedom -- statistics show that a high percentage of young adults are now living with their parents out of necessity.

Second, it is often hard, especially with our first child, to learn to let go after a lifetime of caring for them and managing their every move. This is as much of an adjustment for you as it is for your son. At 18, if you have done your job right, you should be able to let your son stay out all night if that's what he wants to do. (If he's like a lot of young men he's probably gaming all night with friends.) You need to trust that you have raised him well. This is part of his growth and passage into adulthood. If he were off in the dorms you wouldn't know what he was doing most of the time, and young people can still get into plenty of trouble in the dorms. I know that it is really, really hard to stop worrying about our kids' well-being. And because of that, your son needs to be kind enough and mature enough to let mom know where he is, if that is going to make her feel better, especially if mom is still forking out money for him. It's not that hard to send you a text.

So have the talk with your son as many of the responses below have outlined, where the two of you (or ideally three, if dad is involved) agree upon the rules of engagement going forward. You need to learn to let go, and your son needs to learn that while he's under his parents' roof, he is still accountable to them.

This transition isn't easy, but it's necessary.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I think it's normal for kids this age to push the envelope. "I'm an adult, I can vote, I can enlist, you can't stop me" is a common attitude. But they don't realize they're in that middle zone, where they can't live on their own (which you say yours cannot). So, you're still footing the bill for these activities, right? Paying for a car (repairs and insurance, if not gas) a phone, his internet, his food, his medical insurance and his rent, right? So he does have responsibilities.

So, my questions are:
1) What's he doing out all night if he has a job? Who is he with and what is he doing? You don't have to know all of it, but you have to know some of it. Is he hanging out in a friend's basement, watching movies and playing video games? Relatively harmless. But is he driving exhausted? Getting into stuff he shouldn't? Or does he just have a girlfriend and he's sleeping with her. And if so, are you sure he's fully educated about STIs and contraception? If he can't live on his own, he can't support a baby.
2) If he's sober for 1.5 years, that's great. But he's at risk. Are these risky behaviors he's engaging in? He shows no signs of alcohol/drug use, great. Or, is he better at hiding it? Maybe he's smoking pot, because he thinks it's safe - but he's still self-medicating after a problem, and he's (I assume) driving. And is he only hanging out with friends who are likewise sober?

The other problem is the disrespect. He needs to learn (since he's a great big adult now) that you can't sass people and still have them do things for you. You can't mouth off to your boss (or come in late, or blow off assigned tasks because he doesn't feel like doing them or because he's tired from being out all night) and still keep your job and get paid. So, if your son can make all of his own decisions, he can start figuring out how to pay for all the things currently paid for by his "employer" (you). If he's always been disrespectful, your parenting hasn't been successful. But if this is a new behavior, I'd look at what's underlying it. I'll bet his nocturnal activities aren't quite so innocent and wholesome. So, either drug test him or stop enabling him by paying for everything.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

One question I’d be asking myself is why, if he’s sober, why would he want to be out all night? A huge part of sobriety means taking care of yourself in all ways. He’s just toying on the edge of his past and he could go back to that life if he’s not already. I doubt he’s studying in a parking lot all night. Since he’s in your home and he’s of adult age, institute a curfew out of consideration and respect to you. Be clear what the consequence would be if he fails curfew and STICK to that consequence while maintaining a calm demeanor- even if it means kicking him out. Don’t tolerate his disrespect one more second. It’s gone on far too long. Your house, your rules.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

My oldest son and I went through this. He wasn't being overtly disrespectful or hostile to me and it didn't become an open fight, but I was frustrated and worried at first. After graduating high school, he went straight into full time work in his career. He also took a few college classes but wasn't committed to that so he stopped and just works, which is fine as his career doesn't require a degree to do well.

Anyway...we went back and forth for a while on the "if you're going to not come home at night then you need to let me know you're staying out" thing. When nagged/reminded, he did that. But it was something I was initiating. I had the blessing of having another child (my step-daughter) who is the same age and did go away to college. I realized that I didn't know where she was, either. She didn't have to check in with me when making plans, I had no idea if she was in her dorm or not, etc. So by opting to go to school, she had the freedom that he wanted. It didn't make sense for me to hold him to a different standard just because he decided that college wasn't for him.

So, I stopped worrying myself with where he was. He manages to get himself to work every day by 6 AM and work a long day so I know he isn't out doing anything crazy, he's just staying with his girlfriend, or at a friend's house or apartment. He's 21 now and my house is still his home base, but he house sits in the city for weeks at at time, is at his girlfriend's family's beach house on vacation this week, crashes with friends who have apartments, and pretty much comes and goes as he pleases. He stays in touch by texting/calling/tagging me in social media. It works for us - he's a young adult, he takes care of himself and doesn't cause me trouble, I enjoy his company (and that of his friends/girlfriend when they hang out here) and I'll miss him when he gets his own place. So he can come and go like an adult in my house. It might not be an arrangement that works for everyone, but it's been good for us. Just a perspective to consider!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

You say he can’t live on his own. But if he’s actually drinking or doing drugs while driving, even though you don’t know it, with you supporting him, you are liable if he hurts someone else.

I think you need to give him an ultimatum. Tell him he has to find someone else to live with and take him off of your car insurance. He will have to work more hours to pay for it and won’t be able to laze around staying up all night because of working.

You son needs to grow up. If you allow his disrespectful behavior and ignoring your rules, you’ll end up paying for it.

You can still pay for community college, but he shouldn’t be living with you if he can’t respect you or your rules. This isn’t high school anymore, and he’s an adult now. That means he has to also act like one.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on


So at 18 he is already sober.. so at 16 1/2 he had a drug and alcohol problem.. oh heck no! Just based on his previous behavior staying out all night would be a no.

It’s not like he is sitting and reading books! There are either parties with drugs and/or alcohol, girls ( if he is straight you don’t want to be a grandmother just yet) or what ever else. Just overall teenagers in a group setting are not knows to make the best decisions. Case and point!

Look at it this way.. how many times those kids came over your house and stayed over till morning?

Become best friends with the kids mom and find out what they are doing!

But honestly if my son had that history.. there is no reason for him to stay out all night. ( honestly even without history). He needs more hours at work so he has left time to get in trouble. Or just charge him symbolical rent. If he wants to act grown up treat him like one-everything costs $$.

I would sit him down, talk to him.. and inform him of what you want him to do. He doesn’t need to like rules-he needs to follow them! Welcome to adulthood!

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

We are already talking about this situation NOW when my kids are 12 and 14...that if they are living at home after 18...both will still be in high school for some of their 18th year. They still follow the house rules and until they can financially support themselves, Dad and I have input into their lives.

I'm wondering if your horse is already out of the barn so to speak. Reigning your son back in might be quite difficult. But something like be home at certain hours on school nights and no curfew on no school nights IF and only IF you know where he is headed and with whom. (I tease my kids in a morose way that I know where to start looking for their bodies if they don't make it home.)

It is common courtesy to let your roommates even know when you will be back, and are going to be in and out as not to disturb them and so someone knows where you are...I had a few in college who we never knew where they were and well we were all the same age but we were all the same age paying our own way and so we lived and let live.

I talk with my kids all the time about when they can do certain get a tattoo, it is their body and if they want to pay a very expensive amount of money for body art they can do it when they are financially independent from me. If I am subsidizing their lives they do not have money for expensive body art. Weirdly enough I am not so worried about piercings but they know my expectations right now at a young age. So it isn't a surprise at 18...good luck!! Hugs to you!!



answers from Chicago on

Sounds like you and he have been through alot and it can be difficult to know what is reasonable once they are adults if they are still living in your home. Every parent has to decide this for themselves, but it sounds like you are not wanting to restrict him as much as you just want to know where ehe is so you don't worry.

I would try to sit and calmly discuss with him the difference between asking permission, which he is no longer required to do as an adult, and showing respect and consideration, which you are asking him to do. Emphasize that is part of being an adult. Even if he were living with a partner or friend, it would be considerate to let them know if he was coming home and pretty rude to refuse to say where he was when asked.

Hopefully he can see and appreciate this, even though now he is trying to establish his independence. Let him know you understand that desire, especially as many of his peers are probably going away for school and no longer have this issue. You both are adjusting to a new relationship, see if you can connect with him on the challenges of this and reach some agreement where everyone feels respected and everyone is respectful.

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