Ask Micah: All Grown Up

All Grown Up

Dear Micah,

Andrea is my daughter (not really her name for anyone out there with a daughter named Andrea who might be in this same situation).  Andrea is 19, just about to graduate high school, and wants to move out on her own with two roommates after graduation.   She plans to go to college here in Birmingham.  Her grandfather is paying for her entire four years of college as long as she passes every semester.   My fear is that she may not pass if she gets out on her own and starts living an adult lifestyle while still in school.  She has a job that pays her well enough to afford to live on her own if she has roommates but if they start drinking and partying that money won’t stretch far.  How will she have time for work, school, and her fun?  I believe she should stay home living with her father and myself until she finishes college.  Doing it that way, the responsible way, she will have more money in her savings for after graduation when she really should be going out on her own, and I can also be present to make sure things aren’t out of hand and her studies do not suffer.  If she fails, it presents a real hardship on my husband and I to pay for college.  I have explained this to Andrea at length yet she still plans to move out anyway.  Can you offer me any more compelling reasons to give her to get her to realize moving out at 19 is a mistake?  Any help would be appreciated.


Dear Denise,

I think you’ve given Andrea all the compelling reasons I could give her, unless you threw in a reminder about unlimited food, laundry services, and free wi-fi.  You have made your argument and it was a good one, but Andrea is an adult now and she has the right to do things her own way.  I do have one idea, but it’s too late to add this stipulation to the situation now.  You might can use it as a good back-up plan if your fears turn out to be true and she does struggle with everything.  Get Grandpa to add the condition that if she does fail any class at all, she has to move back home if he continues to foot the bill.  Grandpa really should have laid out some sort of constraints originally, but he didn’t.  However, maybe he’d be willing to add that one second chance in IF she fails anything.  I wouldn’t tell her about it  beforehand though.  Give her the chance to surprise you and successfully balance everything.  Besides, you don’t want to let her in on the fact that she gets one slip up before having to move back home.  She might let one semester go in favor of having fun.  Just let things ride the way they are and if she gets into trouble see if Grandpa will amend his rule a little and give her a second chance with strings.  Until that time comes, and it might never, I think this is where you have to sit back with crossed fingers and hope that the things you’ve taught your child come into play now.  Things like responsibility, time management, paying one’s bills, self discipline, etc.  It is also the time for a parent when you have to sit, watch, and cringe a little when you see them mess this up every so often.  Andrea is going to mess up.  She is going to focus on her freedom too much at times, because its new to her.  She’s going to over indulge sometimes with her friends because she has no one watching and restricting her.  She’s going to get in trouble at work for coming in disheveled and get the “straighten yourself up” talk.  She is going to bomb on a couple of exams due to lack of proper study time.  All of this is going to happen at least once.  And its supposed to.  She is, after all, only 19.  She’s adult, but even adults screw up.  What you are waiting to observe though is how does she bounce back from a failure.  Does she self-correct and move ahead and modify the behavior that caused her trouble, or does she just continue doing the same thing until she suffers a real set back with a job loss or a failed course.  You just have to wait and see which occurs and recognize that you are pretty powerless to do anything else.

What you do have the power to do though is be Andrea’s supporter.  You can get on board with her choices, because they are her choices.  You described in your question that you feel like doing things your way was the “responsible way”.  I have no doubt you’re right and I have no doubt you’ve probably expressed that ad-nauseum to your daughter.  Stop doing that!  You want her to feel like you believe in her and you are her champion.  This will not only bolster her determination to succeed because she wants to make you proud, but it also will give her the impression that if you are on her team she can talk to you honestly about troubles should they arise.  You do not want to be kept in the dark when times get bad.  You want the kind of relationship with your adult daughter where she can share with you about her life.  That is not going to happen if at the start the two of you are pitted against each other by her first grown up choice in life.  Get on board, Denise, so that you can now start this era of her life as her friend.  There is so much more here to worry about than a failed semester or a job loss.  Andrea is just 19.  She knows so little about life right now.  Dating, relationships, heartbreaks, she’s going to need you so many times.  Reopen up the communication lines by accepting gracefully this first defeat in her adult life.  There will be many more to come in life.  You may not like some of her future boyfriends.  You may not like the company she chooses to work with after college.  You won’t always be the house chosen for Thanksgiving after she’s married.  You may not agree with the name choice for your first grandchild.  There will be lots of moments you will lose, but there will be lots of wins too.  And those wins begin with Andrea feeling like her mom and Dad are on her side supporting her choices, even if they go against what they’d choose for her if they were still in charge.  You’re not in charge anymore Denise.  Be on her side now so you can be a front row and vocal fan in the game of her life now.


If you have a question you’d like to ASK MICAH please email him at [email protected]


Leave a Reply