kids leaving home

plaidthumbMarch 24, 2008

Our two girls are 18 & 14, and normally get along about like oil and water.

The older one is looking at colleges, thinking about taking a year off to work, thinking about traveling with a couple friends, stopping to work when they're broke, yadda yadda yadda. Both of our girls have known from the beginning that they are pretty much responsible for their own schooling (Health issues/medication have kept us trying to keep our heads above water for years--insurance only does so much, and less all the time), so we understand her indecision in what to do--we'll support her in any way we can regardless of what she does. She's applied for numerous scholarships based on need and scholarship, and has the talent to be awarded scholarships based on her portfolio.

We've done our best to rear them to think things through and make their own decisions--and to realize there are consequences from those decisions. She has a good head on her shoulders, can/will talk to anyone, and is not afraid of hard work. Heaven help the authority figure who she thinks is stupid, however; she's not afraid to speak her mind.

I am looking forward to her getting out on her own. I think the younger one will blossom and come into her own without the constant conflict with her big sister. Plus, we could her old room to relieve some of the over-crowding in the living room. I know (well, at least we hope) we'll sleep better if we're not waiting for her to come home at night.

My wife does not understand my attitude towards the upcoming change. She hopes she'll pick a college close to home so she can stay here a few more years.

For those of you who have been through this, is the difference in thoughts unusual for a couple? I just don't understand my wife's desire to have her stay at home, and my wife doesn't understand why I am "so anxious to get rid of her". Any thoughts on this?

We'll both deal with whatever works out and life will go on. I just didn't realize how much I am looking forward to being "empty-nesters" until now (I know, it's still at least 4 years off with the younger one). Wouldn't anyone want to see their kids go off on their own and try to make something of themselves? That's one of the main reasons for having kids (and the free labor, of course...)

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Most 18 year olds aren't ready to make it in the real world. There are some, but there is so much they don't consider. I'd agree with your wife. My daughter is 17 and will be 18 in two months. She's been 'planning' to move out because she wants independence and thinks that's how she'll get it. I worry about my daughter being where I can't protect her. Every time I hear of a young college aged girl being victimized, I cringe. I know we can't protect them from everything and they have to go out into the world, however I am not 'eager' for it to happen. I don't believe in being overprotective, I can understand how your wife feels. I would think a father would be more protective than 'anxious to get rid of her'. (my son's on the other hand, are 18 (almost 19) & 21 and I am anxious for them to get out there and make their way... they want to be treated like an adult but don't want to leave.. but that's a different problem for a different thread. lol)

    Bookmark   March 24, 2008 at 12:59AM
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I'm past that stage. DD is 26 and just in the last year, bought a condo and moved out of the house.

Like you, I was very excited for her when, at age 18, she left home to go to a college about 700 miles away. I was so delighted for her to be starting her adult life.

What I didn't realize at the time, and what slammed us pretty hard, was the fact that at 18, she was IN NO WAY ready to be on her own. Children aren't--their brains aren't fully, physically mature at that age. It's asking for trouble to expect them to be able to make logical, adult decisions, when they don't have the tools to do so.

After one disastrous semester, DD came home, enrolled in the local community college, took another year or so to decide what she actually wanted to do with her life (while continuing to work, and go to school). Then she got herself together, picked a major and is now a fully-qualified health professional, with a good job, able to handle her own finances, etc.

18 year olds really aren't fully equipped for life on their own. Take a look around. How many kids do you know who finish college in 4 years, with a degree in the major they started in? Believe it or not, I don't know a single young person who didn't change their mind and major along the way. That means they aren't making the best decisions at 18, and they aren't that mature at 18.

As her father, I'd move heaven and earth to give her another year or 2 at home. I'd also work on teaching the girls to learn to get along, to be able to find constructive ways to deal with their differences. Those are life lessons that will stand them in good stead all through their lives, and ones they should both learn before leaving home. It's not up to you, as their parent, to toss your hands in the air and give up. It's not a healthy solution to just get one out of the house. Sorry.

Now, constructively? If educational money is an issue, here's a great suggestion. Something I wasn't aware of when DD started college. There are a lot of apprenticeship programs available in the community colleges (at least around here). The school helps the student find an appropriate position, they work (and get PAID) while taking their classes, and end up with both a career, and a start at a professional resume. I'm not talking about taking up electrician, or carpentery, either--but things like paralegal, or optician, and other para-professional fields. If there was something like that, that would interest your daughter, it would help with her finances to be working while going to school--some of the jobs pay pretty well, and since the whole thing is overseen by the school, the schedule usually works out pretty well. And it's definitely a good way to get a start in one's profession. Maybe you could find a way to gently suggest that she might want to look into something like that?

Please, though--don't give up on her. Your daughter still needs you. You may need to redefine your relationship (which is the case all through parenting, of course)--but she definitely still needs your help, input and love.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2008 at 8:06AM
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I was very happy with the kids leaving home. It was honeymoon time for my husband and myself. I was proud of them for wanting to be independent. My two came home once each, because they moved from a neighboring state and stayed with us until they could get a job and an apartment. He had one that lived once with his mother. No one could have enjoyed their children more than I did, but it was time for them to leave the nest. I think I would have been more concerned if I had a child who was heading off to college, that's not a very safe place anymore.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2008 at 8:37PM
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mommy--I never said I was "anxious to get rid of her"--that's my wife's take on it. They've got to get out and take their knocks and get on with it. "Young college age girls being victimized" are happening just as much when they're around home as when they're away from home. I just figure if we've given them the freedom at this point to make increasing larger decisions (starting from the time they were able to make decisions about what clothes to wear--about 3 or so)then they are ready to get out there and see where they're at. We've never been over-protective, and she's taken a few (figurative) bumps and bruises along the way. She's been budgeting her money (a percentage of her cell bill, car insurance, some clothing, entertainment, savings, checking account) for a year or so, been caught short and had to figure out where to find what she needed. She's been budgeting her time (chores, study, work, social life, sleep) since the 10th grade. If she decides to stay around for a year or two for college, that's fine. I just think that if we've done our jobs as parents, she should be ready to go.

Azzelea--I said nothing about giving up on her. Or "toss [my] hands in the air and give up". We work with them constantly, to the point of counselling sessions when needed. And they have improved. They are just two totally different personalities, and they are slowly finding their way through on dealing with each other. Getting the oldest one out on her own would help both of them.

She has a career path that is pretty solid at this point. And yes, I'm aware that the average person changes careers (not jobs) 3 or 4 times in their lives, let alone majors in college. She's been going to vo-tech for a couple years, working in her field for over a year, both as a part-time job, and freelancing for others. In addition to working for a couple non-profits.

I'm a firm beliver that our jobs as parents is to balance pushing them away with protecting them. And no matter how much we want to "protect" them, we "protect" them best by letting them learn to protect themselves, in ways appropriate to their age and maturity.

I've read all stories about how their brains aren't fully mature and what-not. My question is how much over-protective parents worsen the situation with not allowing their kids the opportunities to use their brains to hasten that development. It can be a hard world out there, and the sooner they learn that fact, the better. If they were allowed to learn that early, they would be better off in the long run.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2008 at 8:57PM
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Plaidthumb, I think you and your wife are more 'usual' than not. I thought that most couples were opposites in thinking (I want a new truck/we don't need a new truck!etc). Your wife's relationship with her daughter is different than yours, and chances are her worries and concerns are at a different level than yours.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2008 at 10:38PM
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Well, I can understand your thinking, Plaidthumb.

My observation is that you have a different relationship with your daughter, compared to your wife's relationship with her. Mother's and daughters are usually very close, they have a bond, and to think of the daughter NOT being there, living in the house, is rather a dramatic change in a mother's life.

I really think it could be different for you, being the dad, you are obviously more concerned with the practical aspects of having a teen daughter. Like space, responsibility, conflict etc.

I have a 20 year old, she has moved out.

I am torn between, just loving the space, the peace and quiet, the one on one time I can spend with my other child, the tidy house....all issues that I have moaned about on this very forum !

But, every-so-often...I am reminded that she isn't here, and the tears fall, the little girl comes back, and my heart aches for that special time with her. It all happened in a flash.

I am pretty sure my husband thinks like you. Its all practical decisions, her departure from the nest.

But I am still attached by the umbilical chord and always will be.

You wife will get used to it all, just like me, and she will realize the advantages.

Gee, its tough being a mother...

    Bookmark   March 25, 2008 at 6:39PM
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People deal with things differently. I know that you just want what is best for your daughter. My daughter is in college now and not home very often but she is home for the summer. I had similiar feelings when it was getting her time to leave and my husband thought pretty much like you. It's hard watching them go and hard watching them making decisions you don't always agree with. Maybe your wife is afraid of not being able to talk and see your daughter on a daily basis. That's the thing I dreaded the most and it is the thing I miss the most. I'd like to keep her a kid but I love my free time that I have now. Your wife will be fine with it eventually. Just be patient with each other and realize you both do want the same thing for your daughter, but you have different ways of showing it. Good luck and keep us posted!

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 9:37PM
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A lot depends on the child as to how mature and ready they are to be on their own. But in my opinion, unless your daughter is fearful of leaving the nest for some reason, I would encourage her to get out there on her own and gain her independence.

I have two sons whom I've always encouraged (since they were very young) to go to college anywhere except their home town. My oldest spent his first year out of high school abroad in a youth program and is now in his freshman year in NY (we live in Texas). My younger son graduates from high school in May and is awaiting college approvals, he only applied to schools away from home.

Now, IF that doesn't work out and they find the need to finish out college while living at home, we'll address that need at that time. But the idea that no 18 year olds are mature enough to be on their own?? How can anyone possibly say that with the multitudes of 18 year olds who are successful in college, away from parents, making good grades, graduating and beginning careers?

Yup, believe it or not, it happens all the time. I hope I don't offend anyone but IMHO it's a disservice to our kids to tell them that they aren't mature enough to go off to school at 18. Is it really about their maturity, or is it more about the dread the parent has about their baby leaving home?

What is your and your wife's experience as far as what you did at 18? Did you continue on at home or move out?

    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 5:34PM
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I would think the recent news stories of murdered college girls (here in the US) would heighten the concerns of any parent with a child about to leave home. Hearing those stories intensifies concerns and dampens enthusiasm.

I also suspect that at the heart of it, you and your wife want the same thing for your daughter(s): a good, happy life full of discovery and celebration and learning. You just have different takes on the best way for her to start living that life. Maybe Mom is thinking in baby steps, while Dad is thinking big leap of faith. Ultimately, I think each child is different. Some will be ready for a leap of faith, while others are more cautious and will take smaller steps. No one way is right for everyone. Only your family and your daugther can decide what will be best for her. I think you are both right to love and support your daughter(s) in how they plan their futures.

I took small steps, myself. First a year working/living at home, then a year of college/living at home, then transfered away to college to finish. I never went back home to live.

My brother took a giant leap of faith, left for the Navy when he was still 17, w/the very doubtful permission of our parents. He finished his enlistment and traveled the world on an air craft carrier, but then moved back home- twice. LOL. Never can tell which way things will go.

My kids aren't there yet, oldest is almost 15. I don't have a preference on him staying near or going far for college or whatever post high school. They can each do what is right for them.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 2:55AM
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If she thinks she's ready to go, then she is ready to go. Help her explore some of her options - just "heading off with friends for a year" is kind of vague, she does need to come up with firm plans as to where and when and how this year will unfold if she doesn't go to college. I would encourage her to go away to college, sort of the best of both worlds.

When my kids were ready for college (three kids, two years apart in age), I realised I was ready for them to go away. Not a "good luck, you're on your own now" going away, but I was ready not to be involved in their day-to-day lives anymore. Of course, sometimes I missed having them around, but I was comfortable with this new part of their lives, and mine.

I did insist that they be at least a long distance phone call away ( didn't want to run into them or their friends at the mall, etc), which isn't very far here in Maryland, with the understanding that they could come home as often as necessary. At first there were lots of phone calls and trips home, but after a month or so, the phone calls came less often as did the trips home. As expected, they were making new friends, getting involved in activities and creating their own lives apart from us.

I think it's an especially bad idea for young women to live at home and go to college, since they are still treated as children. I hate seeing a young woman go from living with her parents to living with her husband. I think women need the experiences of living on their own to develop the confidence and skills they'll need as they find jobs and marry.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 10:48AM
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Plaidthumb - I think your situation sounds perfectly natural. It seems very typical that in a healthy marriage/family framework that one parent will look at things from a pragmatic point of view, while the other will cling a bit more.

I wept when my kids went off to kindergarten - while my husband beamed with pride, packed their lunches, and shooed them off to the care of their new teachers.

It seems like the balance of those two, complementary approaches is what makes for an effective parenting team.

It's all so bittersweet, isn't it? Best of luck!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 8:52PM
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Thanks for all your well-thought-out responses. After the first two, I was beginning to wonder if I was an ogre or something...

I agree, if they think they're ready, then they oughta give it a shot.

I firmly believe more 18 year-olds would be ready if their parents allowed them to be. If the kids have been coddled, over-scheduled, and had their "self-esteem" spoon-fed to them by their teachers and parents, then they're never going to be ready. The best thing kids can learn is that sometimes they fail, they don't get an award, they don't get as much playing time as everyone else. Until they taste failure, they can't enjoy success, or for that matter, even recognize what it is... We've allowed our girls to fail. Heck, we even made them sell their own Girl Scout cookies. Sure, many of the girls in the troop "sold" more, but our kids were 2 of a very few that actually did it themselves.

I guess maybe I have a little different outlook on getting on with things, due to having it brought home to me just how quickly things can change. I came within a 1/4 inch of not being here a few years ago in a workplace accident. The last thing I want for my kids is to not get out and try. Anything they care about. If one of them wants to be a beach bum, go be a beach bum. Life's too short to not try because something might go wrong.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 11:49PM
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I think your girls will be fine people, you are being a good dad, keep up the good work.

I agree with you about letting them fail.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 2:47AM
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For a child to be able to make it out on their own they have to be taught responsibilty from an early age. I was a stay at home mom and we gave up things in our lives for me to be able to do this. Our children often didn't have the finest of clothes or the newest gagets that were out at the moment. They did chores for things they wanted, babysat for neighbors, and got jobs when they became of age. They knew the value of money from a very early age.
they knew they were responsible for what they did. If they got into trouble, it was their problem to solve. School grades came before sports. Grades came first at college before they took a car..Today all our kids went to college and have good jobs and wonderful families. None of them every have asked for money. They all know if they live higher then we do, they don't need our will not get our help. We paved the way for them many years ago and now it is their turn to go forward.If they are not taught, how do you expect them to do it on their own. We had rough spots and they probably will too. But , this is part of the learning process and some things they need to learn to do without, too. If you want your kids to move out when they turn 18 or so, you have to teach them all along the way.

Believe me, it was wonderful when they all moved on with their lives. Once they went to college, they never came back home. None of them wanted to live under Mom and Dad's rules. They all worked and payed all their own expenses after college. They all knew our money was not available after college.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2008 at 1:05PM
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I have to say that I hope my children live with me till they graduate college and are ready to stand on their own two feet.

Some people still have the old-fashioned old-world values of children living with parents till they get married. That is fine with me! I would love for my children to live at home with us till they were ready to be on their own, and I don't consider 18 the "ready age"

I moved out at 18, got pregnant later that year. By the time I was 19 I was a mother. Luckily I was mature and was able to handle it, and finished college. I have friends who had children around the same age and have struggled most of their adult life. Honestly, the friends I had that stayed living at home till they graduated college or got married are the ones who stayed out of trouble and are pretty successful now.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 10:53AM
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At 18, I was a college graduate and moved out on my own for the first time. Actually, I lived with my cousin who was 2 years younger. 5-6 months later, I moved into my own place. A year later, I moved back home cuz I got laid off.

I must have moved out and back in 2-3 times LOL. My mom finally told me the last time I moved back that she would no longer help me move out or in again! I said don't worry, next time I move out it will be for good and I will take everything I own. At 22, I moved to another city 4 hours away. That's when I really grew up! I seen things that I've never seen in my life. People living in the streets, prostitutes, high crime, etc. We didn't have that in our city back then (population 150,000). (We do now!)

My daughter is 16 and can't wait to move out and be on her own. She wants to move to a big city. My advice to her is to first experience living on her own in our city. Then, when she's accustomed to how life is on her own, she can make a decision to move to another big city. Why? Because we live in the country and she has no clue what it's really like out there. Plus the fact that she has anxiety attacks. She's in therapy now to help her for when the time comes that she is on her own. I'm actually excited for her cuz I remember how I felt at that time too. She's already started her "hope chest" for living on her own. Way back when, a "hope chest" was for when you got married LOL I still have some items of my own "hope chest". They bring back so many memories.

IMO, it all depends on the 18-year-old's maturity. My daughter is very different than I was at that age. For me, it was work and party time! My daughter is so consumed with getting a good education cuz she doesn't want to be poor and she wants to travel and see the world. She's so afraid of getting in with the wrong crowd that she makes it a point of staying away from school friends that do drugs cuz she doesn't want to get sucked into it. She has dreams and goals, I didn't!

I've made it a point so many times in telling her "Education is freedom. What you do with your life now, education-wise, will determine the type of life you'll have. The sacrifices you make now for your education will pay off really well in the future. And, if you always take the easy way out in life, it always ends up being the hardest."

Plus the fact that she's seen people in our family/friends who's lives have been ruined by drugs, alcohol, high school dropout, teenage pregnancy, etc., makes her NOT want to do the same things they did.

So now, all I can do is hope and pray for the best. Like my daughter keeps telling us.. "You've given me the tools on how to live a good, productive life. Now you have to give me the chance to use them."

    Bookmark   April 27, 2008 at 11:48AM
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My son, who is 18 years old and has not yet graduated came home from school today (while I was not home), packed his stuff, and left to go live with friends. He called my wife on the phone and told her that he is moving. He claims that he is going to keep going to school, however his grades are very poor and he is very close to not graduating if he does not pass all his classes this year (Senior year). I am in a serious situation. My heart says to "Go get him and make him come home", but we all know I do not have a legal right to do so. He is leaving becasue he says he "Wants his freedom". At this point, I just want him to graduate High School and be prepaired for this world prior to leaving for it. He works at a fast food place 3 days a week, for a total of 20 hours a week, making 7 dollars an hour. My heart is so ripped out from all of this. I have yet to speak to him because "I think" he is afraid I will yell at him. My thinking on the situation is different than he could imagine. If he is hell bent on this foolish move, all I want to do is help him prepair better for it. Money, pots and pans, Hell he didnt even take any underwear or socks! I need advise, How to you speak to a 18 year old kid who wont return your calls and is obviously afraid of you. Sure, half of me is mad at hell at him, but the other half is more afraid for him than anything else.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2008 at 12:44AM
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