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Teen Wonders When to Move Out

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: I have a very good relationship with my parents, but I realize I can't depend on them my whole life. I am almost 19 and know I should be planning my future. When do I need to start thinking about moving out on my own? I am single and not planning on college.

A: Let's first celebrate the fact that you and your parents have such a great relationship. No matter what your future holds for you, this close relationship with your parents will be a lifelong blessing. From your letter, I assume that you are no longer in high school and that you probably have a job. Neither you nor your parents appear to have a problem with your living with them at this time. There is nothing wrong with young adults living with their parents while they get themselves established in the work world and transition out of the family home. If you do have a job, I would recommend that you offer to contribute some of your earnings to your parents to help them with the added expenses of your living with them.

As you might have realized already, staying with parents who enjoy having you with them may make you less inclined to go out on your own; it becomes too easy to just stay put and be cared for. You and your parents need to talk seriously about your plans for moving out and establishing a life separate from them. These discussions should include talking about careers that you would like to pursue and the finances necessary to live on your own. If you are unsure about what vocations interest you, I'd recommend career counseling. Your high school guidance department might be a good resource for career counselor recommendations.

Ask your family, friends, former teachers and trusted adults for their advice regarding planning your future. Set goals for yourself with timelines attached to them -- e.g. by mid-March I will have my first meeting with a school counselor, by the end of March I will have looked at apartments that I can afford if I am making X amount of money. Setting goals is a must for successful career planning. An experienced career counselor can help you with all aspects of your job search and career planning.

Be thankful that you can live comfortably with your parents while you make plans for your short- and long-term future. There is no rush for you to be out of your home in two months, but there is a real need for you to make a serious effort right now to begin a career search and to make plans to live independently. I applaud your efforts to seek independence and not to become complacent living with your loving parents. Let me know how your career plans are shaping up at the beginning of April.

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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


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