Where did the time go? This is what we as parents ask ourselves as our child turns 18. An adult – no way – but not a child either. The new adult often feels empowered, anxious to make decisions, and to determine their own course. For example, having to sign a release of information to allow mom and/or dad to talk to the doctor is a real eye opener for both the adult child and for parents.
As in all of life, adulthood is not an event but a process that starts way before age 18. By slowly giving and trusting your child with age-appropriate responsibilities, turning 18 becomes just another step in growing up. However, there are some big time legal changes that all teens need to be aware of. Below is a short list of suggested discussion points about adult rights and responsibilities. Good Luck!
- You are legally responsible for your actions – please think before you act.
- You can own things; a car, a credit card – money is needed to pay for these things.
- You can vote – a right many other countries do not have.
- If you break the law you will pay the fine or perhaps go to jail.
- Risk taking behavior is part of early adulthood – be aware.
- I am here to help you make good choices – I will listen.
The State of Wisconsin Bar Association is revising its publication, On Being 18. You can currently only find it on-line.
~ Darcia Behrens, LCSW, supervisor/clinician, Family Services, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin