When your teenager wants to move out
What is a single mom to do when their teenage son or daughter brings up moving out? For some single parents this question doesn’t come up until their child is in their mid-twenties. For others, it may come as soon as the child is 15. The younger the child brings this up, the more painful it is for mom. If it is the daughter wanting to move out, sometimes this can be due to a boyfriend. What is even scarier is mom thinking about pregnancy, along with the “empty nest syndrome” which at 15, is coming way too early.
How should parents respond?
The number one thing to not do is scream and panic. Although your child may “feel” that they are “grown up” … actually, they still need mom very much. They need a strong mother to guide them through this process. They have one foot in mom’s home and one foot out in the world. As a mom, you must make sure that you walk your child through this decision, make sure you communicate you love them. If you are upset about their decision, make sure you phrase you are disappointed but in a non critical and non demeaning way. A good sentence to start with is: “Honey, I am disappointed in your choice, I love you very much but I don’t agree with your choice. I love you very much and want you to know that I will always be here for you”. This sets the stage for positive interaction and also lets your teen know that you are not hysterical and leaves door open for communication.
Should you allow your child to go?
In some situations, the answer is yes, especially if your teenager has a safe place to go such as an Aunt’s house or grandparents. This will satisfy your teen’s need to feel independent and satisfy your parental need to keep your child safe.
In some situations the answer is a definitive no. If your teenager is moving in with a boyfriend/girlfriend….absolutely not. If your child is still a minor, than you have the law on your side to prevent him or her from moving out. If your child is 16 years old or younger, I would say that is also a definite no. There are not a lot of job opportunities for adults, how would a 16 year provide for himself?
Academic and social consequences
Moving out will be disruptive emotionally, but can also affect academics. If your child is just starting college, which is already a massive jump academically, the upheaval of moving out can interfere with the ability to concentrate in college. The average GPA of a freshman in college in 1.78, add in trying to pay bills, hold down a job and keep a home and the likely scenario is that GPA drops to 1.0, if not lowed. Another risk factor is older college students on campus. These more experienced students may lure your child into risky behavior such as street drugs, alcohol and parties.
At some point, children are going to want to move out. However, for moms, it is usually the hardest on them, as they are the maternal caretakers and have been every step of the way. Single moms face an even greater challenge as there is not a partner to bear some of the burden.
As a mom, focus a lot on GOOD memories. Look at photos from the younger years. Focus on the times when your kids desperately needed for food, clothing and shelter. Pat yourself on the back; you’ve done a wonderful job raising your child. Just because your child is experimenting with moving out, doesn’t mean they have stopped loving you or that you have done a poor job parenting. Remember, one day your son or daughter will become a parent and changes are more than great that they will be back to say, “Mom, you did a wonderful job raising me and I know what you went through…thank you!”