Sometimes I will get a comment on a post that is either too good to be left as a comment, or is too important to not discuss further.
Eric Left a comment: “Wil, I’m 15, and I want to live on my own. I’m smart (straight A’s) and responsible. I just don’t want to live at home anymore. What do I need to do next?
Eric and I corresponded a few times by email, and I got a feel for his situation. My first concern was that there was something going on at home. According to Eric, everything is okay, but he just doesn’t want to follow his parents’ rules anymore. In fact, one of his statements was that he didn’t want to follow rules anymore.
My advice to Eric: You are 15 years old, and it is perfectly normal to want to express your identity separate from your parents. The time is fast approaching when you might have to move out on your own anyways. I suggest you wait until then and take advantage of the benefits that come with living at home. Living on your own is an expensive proposition, and not one that should be entered into without a lot of thought. Aside from being smart, which I’ve no doubt you are, you have to make enough money to be able to care for yourself. If your parents are anything like most parents I know, the particular door you are trying to go through is one-way. You won’t be able to come to them if the going gets too rough to handle and ask for money. There are many expenses that you will be solely responsible for, and the money you can make at your age and level of experience is most likely not enough to cover them. I would advise you to start thinking about these issues and planning for them. Look at the newspaper and see how much rent is for one-bedroom in the community you work (if you work—if you don’t, you are NOT ready to move out anywhere any time soon). Also, look at the prices for some of the supplies you will need to live. Plan a budget that takes all of these into consideration, and live within that budget. It’s my guess that you will quickly see that the reality doesn’t quite meet the expectations.
Talk to your family, explain that you want to establish your identity, and ask them to help you with that. Start buying your own clothes, food, etc. If your parents aren’t charging you rent, ask if you can give them some money every month to save for you in lieu of rent. Ask them to treat the money as if it were rent. If they are charging you rent already, then you are ahead of the game. Explain to your parents that you want to prepare yourself to be able to support yourself when the time comes, but do not start a fight about it. Your parents instinctively want to make sure that you will be okay on your own; they are on your side. Don’t alienate them for the sake of your pride. Understand that they may be reluctant to go along with you on this, and that’s okay: it’s their job to be reluctant.
If, after everything is said and done, you still want to move out, you will need to contact an attorney and talk to them about the process for “emancipation”. I’m of the opinion that this is a bad idea for most kids, so I’m not going to go into more detail on the actual process. Either way, good luck, and keep me informed as to what’s going on as you navigate this difficult time.
I’m now leaving this issue open for other people to comment. If you have some helpful advice for Eric, or if you want to critique my assessment, feel free. I do have a couple of rules:
1. I will not tolerate attacks to Eric in any way. If you think he’s acting stupidly, fair enough. Say so, but there is a difference between acting stupidly and being stupid.
2. No profanity.
3. Any comments not related to this issue will never see the light of day. Do yourself a favor and either connect the dots or don’t post.