Dear Barb—Teen on the Outs

Dear Barb:

Hi, I am 16 years old and still living with my parents, but they are driving me crazy.  They won’t let me do anything.  My friends go out to concerts and stay out overnight and their parents don’t say anything to them.  I really want to move out and live on my own.  I have a part time job so I could probably move in with a friend and share the rent.  Some of my friends who are on their own tell me I am crazy and that I should stay at home as long as I can.  How can I get my parents to treat me like an adult?  I am very mature and fully able to take care of myself, I just don’t know why they don’t see that.  McKenna. 

Hi McKenna:

Thank you for writing.  I believe you are the youngest person to write to Dear Barb.  I hear what you are saying.  Many of us want to move out and live on our own at 16 and we believe we can take care of ourselves.  However, moving out of your parent’s home is a huge step at any age and, especially at 16 years old.

I am assuming you are still in school since you are only working part time.  You may be able to share the rent with a friend, but what about buying clothes and personal items, or saving for university.  Do you really believe you will be able to do all those things on the earnings from a part time job? Finances are only one aspect to living on your own.  What if you need medical care? Who will pay for that? Many unpleasant events can happen to a 16-year-old who is on their own.  Since your friends who are on their own are advising you to stay home, that should say something.  Have you spoken with your parents about your feelings? Maybe you can come to a compromise with them.  For example, if they allow you to do something, like go to a concert, show them that you are responsible enough to be trusted.  As far as staying out overnight, I do not think that is a good thing, unless arrangements have been made ahead of time and your parents know where you will be staying.  I am sure that not all your friends are allowed to stay out overnight, and maybe the ones who do are not telling their parents where they are going.  It could be their parents believe they are staying at a friend’s,’ rather than out partying all night.  Sorry McKenna I cannot support your position, I do not believe a 16-year-old is mature, or responsible enough, either financially or mentally, to be able to take care of themselves.  I must add there are exceptions, but just from your letter I do not feel you are ready to be on your own.  Have a good talk with your parents; if they won’t listen possibly you could go to counseling as a family.  Best of luck.

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