Vicki: Should This Army Wife Kick Her Military Kid Out at 18?

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I'm trying to prepare my daughter to move out after her high school graduation. It's time for her to be on her own because she will be 18 years old in June.

My family is acting all flabbergasted, but we did the same to our son who is now 22 years old. He has been in the Army for the past year after floundering for almost two-and-a-half years after he graduated high school.

My family thinks our tough love is too tough, but I don't think so. From the ninth to twelfth grade is the time for you to figure out what you are going to do with your life. It's not fair to give everything to your children and then have to take care of them as adults. I'm just sorry for people who think we are heartless.

I joined the Army when I was 17 on a delayed entry program, and I was gone the day after I graduated. I did only one enlistment because I got married.

My husband is an E-8 in the Army, and he probably wouldn't have joined if his parents had taken care of him like he was a baby. His father told him he "had to go." College was not an option for my husband, so he joined the service.

So now it's my daughter's turn to grow up and make things happen, but she's turning our family against us with her bellyaching and saying we are kicking her out.

We're not kicking her out, we're saying it's time for her to get out because she will be done with high school and 18 years old.

Doesn't being 18 make you an adult?

-- Sharon in Tennessee

Dear Sharon,

I guess most people look at 18 as the age you reach adulthood. However, there are many states where a 16-year-old can make their own legal decisions. In some countries, the age of adulthood is even younger.

I think you are captivated by "18" being the magic number instead of considering the adaptive skills of your daughter. You keep saying your daughter "has to go" and she has to move out. However, where is she going? Right now, she is in high school so she is focused on her high school graduation.

My point is: Does she move into her own apartment or move in with a friend and crash on their sofa? I can tell you that in my area alone, for me to move into a house, townhouse, apartment or condo, I would need to drop about $5,000 to $6,000 just to move in.

Tennessee may not be that expensive, but she will still need a few thousand to get started on her own. Does she have that kind of money? And how will she sustain herself day by day and month after month with rent, food, clothing, transportation, etc.?

Your daughter is preparing to launch from her parents. The key word is "preparing," and being 18 doesn't mean you are an adult.

In your defense, I can understand that you want your children to be independent. I get it. However, to just kick your children to the street when they have nowhere to go is heartless, in my opinion.

Maybe your daughter will go to college, join the military or enroll in a vocational or training program. All are great options, but I don't hear you saying anything about guiding her to make a good decision. All you say is "get out."

Anything could happen to your daughter if you kick her to the street. On the other hand, maybe you are saying the streets are a safer place for your daughter than being at home with you.

I hope you don't regret putting your daughter on the street.

-- Ms. Vicki

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