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