When a teen turns 18, it is a tremendous milestone for parents and their children. However, navigating the path between emotional/mental adolescence and physical/ legal adolescent adulthood can be somewhat nebulous.
In recent years, psychologists have extended the upper range of adolescence from age 18 to 25.
Adolescence is divided into three separate stages; Early (12-14) Middle (15-17) and late (18-25).
Once children have turned 18 many parents are not aware how the laws regarding parent rights and responsibilities change. This is especially true if their 18 year old is still in high school and /or living at home.
What are the changes you and your new “adult” child need to be prepared for?
At the age of 18 your teen will be charged as an adult for breaking the law, no matter how minor.
It’s important to talk to your teen about this because as a legal adult, a parent is not contacted regarding arrests and legal proceedings.
The risk to the teen is making decisions regarding their case without having the guidance of a parent who is likely more informed and wise in maneuvering through the legal system. Parents often have the ability to access appropriate resources to assist their child.
Educate your teen about their legal rights and what to do should they ever end up getting arrested.
While most 18 year olds ( and thru their early 20’s) are still covered under their parents’ medical insurance, access to medical information about your adult child is hindered by HIPAA privacy rules. Identify which medical information is important for you to have access to so your child can sign the appropriate releases and emergency contact information.
Having a special needs child who turns 18 may be somewhat different so make sure you are informed of your state’s regulations regarding privacy laws and consent for treatment.
What 18 year old doesn’t want their own bank account with a debit card to go along with it? Unless your adult child lists you on the account you will not have access. Most teens prefer their parents do not have the ability to access their information but it’s important to consider what would happen if there was an emergency and the young adult needed access to their funds but for some reason was not able to? Have your adult child talk with their bank and explore what options are available should such a crisis arrive.
My favorite! I have had many 18 year old high school students and their parents come into my office to negotiate the changing dynamics of becoming a “legal adult” and still adhering to family rules and expectations.
Needless to say this often creates challenges and power struggles as the adolescent’s desire to exert their new found legal independence is not always in alignment with parents view of independence.
Have several conversations with your teen before they turn 18 and ask them what their expectations are regarding changes they believe will take place on that magical date. Curfews, accessibility, family obligations, and grades are hot topics among these families in transition. Having a mediator can be helpful if you and your teen get stuck in the negotiating process.
Hang in there!
This is not only an exciting time for your child but also for the parent. A parent once told me there was nothing more enjoyable than experiencing an adult relationship with your child. Enjoy!