Your Complete Guide to Parenting an 18-Year-Old

Parenting an 18-year-old is about providing guidance.
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For some parents, a child’s 18th birthday is a cause for great celebration. It’s the time to rejoice in the fact that their teen has blossomed into a responsible adult.

For other parents, a child’s 18th birthday can stir up mixed emotions. While some families may feel grief over the fact that their baby is no longer a child, other parents may experience fear over the thought of their teen entering the adult world.

No matter how you feel about your child turning 18, you’re role as a parent is far from over. Although you’ll move into a new phase of your relationship as your teen turns into a young adult, you’ll still be very much needed. Successfully parenting an 18-year-old begins with understanding your child’s development:

Emotional Development

As teens turn into adults, there is usually a lot less conflict with parents. Your 18-year-old will likely have established her own values, which may be separate from your values.

During late adolescence, most teens have better control over their emotions. They tend to have more empathy toward others as well.

Social Development

By age 18, most teens develop a smaller social circle. They tend to focus on forming better relationships with fewer friends, and they tend to be less concerned about fitting in with everyone.

Cognitive Development

Most young adults are eager to test their decision making skills.

Some of them try to assert their independence in new ways by exploring new hobbies and interests.

Some still feel invincible and can be convinced nothing bad could ever happen to them. As a result, many of them make risky choices.

Physical Development

By age 18, teens are fully grown. Many of them are more comfortable with their bodies and feel more confident about their appearance.

Tips for Parenting an 18-Year-Old

Here are some tips for parenting a young adult:

  • Your house, your rules. It doesn’t matter if your child is legally an adult. As long as she lives under your roof, or you’re helping her out financially, you get to establish the rules. Create a reasonable curfew and expect respectful behavior.
  • Establish consequences when necessary. Don’t enable your child to make bad choices. If her behavior is out of control, follow through with consequences. Take away the car, limit your financial support, or take away her cellphone when necessary. But hopefully, you won’t need to use many consequences at this age.
  • Be supportive, even when you don’t agree. You don’t have to agree with all your teen’s choices, but you can still show support - as long as her choices are healthy. For example, if your teen really doesn’t want to go to college, pushing her into it isn’t likely to be helpful. Support her efforts in finding a job or exploring a trade.
  • Avoid nagging your teen. Nagging your teen about flossing her teeth or eating a healthier diet isn’t likely to motivate her to change and it could damage your relationship. Focus on being a good role model, rather than a nagging parent.
  • Resist the urge to be overprotective. Sometimes parents get a bit panicked when their 18 doesn’t seem quite ready for adulthood and they become overprotective. But hovering over your teenager at this point could do more damage than good. Allow your teen the freedom to make mistakes so she can experience natural consequences.
  • Focus on hands-on life skills. Whether your teen is headed off to college, or she wants to get her own apartment, make sure she has the life skills she’s going to need so she can stay safe. Teach her about personal safety, money management, and healthy relationships.

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