A Non-American Wants to Know Why American Parents Kick Their Kids Out at 18

First of all, let me just say that, as an American, I know plenty of people who were welcome to live at home into their twenties, as long as they were contributing and had a job and all of that.

This stereotype could be the result of American movies, but I’m also sure there are parents out there who feel like 18 years is the commitment they made, and that’s it.

This person is curious why kicking a kid out at 18 became a thing, and Redditors are doing their best to dig out the truth.

Why is it acceptable for a lot of Americans to kick their kids out of home as soon as they turn 18? from NoStupidQuestions

Or at least, the truth as they see it.

Let’s take a look!

15. It depends on the kid.

It also depends on what the kid is doing.

My cousin’s son dropped out of college at 19 to come home and play WOW in the basement 24/7. Refused to get a job, go back to school, volunteer.

After a few months we did an intervention. Said he was free to play video games all day and night, just not at my cousin’s house.

Could go on social assistance, get an apt with friends, whatever, just not stay where he was.

Gave him a three month deadline, by which time he had started going to the gym and had found a college diploma course he liked and headed back to school.

He graduated and is doing great now, has his own apt in another city and a nice girlfriend.

14. It’s a holdover from another time.

I’m 30 now so it’s been a while, but at least when I was a kid it was just a holdover from a time when it was more doable. I come from a blue collar family that never had a college graduate before my generation so nobody ever had debt to worry about, we lived in the rural Midwest where decent-to-high paying jobs in manufacturing and construction were easy to come by, housing in general was cheap, it was all in all just much easier to do when my parents were that age and even easier for my grandparents (all of whom also got married at that age).

The difference with me is that my little farming town absolutely f**king boomed in population when I was growing up, and it coincided perfectly with the manufacturing jobs getting shipped out of town and the financial crash happening right as I graduated high school. I grew up expecting to leave when I was 18 but luckily my mom saw the writing on the wall and knew it wouldn’t be possible by the time I was that age, so she let me stay as long as I was working.

A lot of people in my area specifically (formerly rural, now suburban Midwest) weren’t so lucky, and had way less flexible parents who basically told them to suck it up because it was easy for them so logically it’ll be easy for you too.

So I can’t speak for America as a whole, but while it’s really not nearly as common as it used to be, when it happens in mostly white areas that used to be pretty small, it’s because it used to be easy thirty years ago and some people simply aren’t willing to recognize how different the world is and just shove their kids off to “be an adult” before they have any reasonable chance of being self sufficient.

13. Some families would never.

This only happens in families that already have other underlying issues. If you and your parents get along there is a pretty high likelyhood you are sticking around for a while. If you don’t want to get a job, dropped out of high school, and don’t help out around the house then maybe yeah they will look at giving you a kick in the pants.

A recent study found that 52% of people age 18-29 still live with their parents. This is the highest since the great depression. High cost of rent and student loans are a main contributing factor

12. They expect you to figure it out.

As a 30 something rural Midwesterner it was super common for pretty much everyone I knew. You had a few months after graduation to figure out how to get out. It was less common for kids to focus on only school or getting into college so most people I knew worked throughout high school.

Apartments were dirt cheap so you could actually afford them on minimum wage, this is so obviously not true in most places. I moved out when I was 17 because I wanted the freedom to just do whatever I wanted.

So basically agreeing, anyone could get a job at a factory so there was no reason you wouldn’t be able to support yourself at 18 (in the mind of adults). Everyone just kind of ignored that we were all total morons at that age.

11. A sad sort of story.

My dad flat out said he wanted me gone by 18 and that if I went to college I wasn’t coming back. He would have emancipated me sooner, but my mom didn’t want me to leave. Over time I’ve become convinced my dad never wanted kids especially me.

They were high school sweethearts and my mom got pregnant with my older sister when my dad was in college and at that time they had to get married. Then they had me (another girl) 4 yrs later.

Looking back on my childhood, and some key conversations with my dad and sister, him trying to emancipate me and telling me that by going to college I was on my own after that, was his way off ending his parental responsibilities toward a child he never really wanted.

10. Bootstraps and all of that.

It’s also part of our cult of rugged individualism, and connected with the myth of the nuclear family.

The idea is that once you’re an adult, you’re own your own and need to make your own way in the world.

We value the story of 18 year old struggling for years in crappy jobs and crappy apartments and rooms for rent, using their labor to one day get just enough money to buy a house and repeat the cycle.

This is especially outdated as this cycle is particularly bad at developing actual capital needed to participate in capitalism.

This also goes counter to how most people who actually succeed do it. They have a big support network that they use for debt free college, unpaid internships, and/or capital they use to start businesses.

As you note, older working class folks (boomers) think “I made it” and did not realize how anomalous their experience was. American growth was off the chart and companies were desperate for people. Now, people are just expenses and resources to be exploited. Oh, and if you don’t like it they will move your job to a country where the workers are more desperate or just automate your job away.

9. A bygone era (hopefully).

Hijacking this comment to note that this particular brand of a**holery is most prominent in the boomer “Me” generation. Most children of the Me generation are X-ers.

Post-Watergate (1974), young Americans began to receive a clear message that hedonism, narcissism, and greed were not merely acceptable traits. They were desired traits.

Here’s the general message:

“Do coke. Make money. Smoke weed. Jazzercize! Drink. If you have kids, just leave them at home to raise themselves starting at about seven. Make money. Eat more sugar, buy luxury goods, do more drugs. PTA Meetings! When you kid starts smoking weed at 14, send him to rehab. Don’t make him do his homework: it didn’t help you. He should be making money. And at 18, that f**ker can kick rocks, because now it’s time to retire at 53 with a giant pension and cruise the States in a 50-foot RV. Leave nothing to your children.”

8. Holding onto tradition.

The time period where it was relatively easy to move out at that age lasted long enough for it to become tradition. Basically the idea took hold that young adults moving out was a sign they are independent and mature enough to be on their own, which for parents was a sign of success. If your kid couldn’t move out then it was a sign you failed as a parent. Or that the parents were “coddling” their kids rather than raising someone that could cut it in the real world. Small rural towns placed high cultural value on self sufficiency, with dependence on others as a sign of weakness.

Of course in reality was that moving out was easier then for factors completely outside of the kids’ control. A region having a large demand for labor that doesn’t require much training is a matter of global market forces and level of automation. But if it feels like this is the way it’s always been, then it’s easy for people to only focus on their small town and assume it always will be this way, with no concept of globalization of markets and automation of physical tasks.

Honestly the “make america great again” slogan for some people translates to “make the manual labor jobs reappear so my community’s way of life can remain unchanged and I don’t have to confront how complex the world is”. And the fact that there is no easy way to just “put the jobs back” doesn’t register because they don’t want that to be true.

7. The times are changing.

Adult children living at home has been going up since the millennial generation, it’s the highest it’s been in 60 years

6. It’s a double-standard.

My ex boyfriend’s take on this was that he would have paid for them to live at his house up to 16 (get a job at 16 and pay rent) then kick them out as soon as they graduate. He said because at 18 they are an adult and all adults should take care of themselves.

Now he had crippling back pain and wouldn’t get out of bed for days, expecting others to wait on him. Its a back-a$swards thing that people do…

5. Are we so different?

What’s this compared to European countries? My theory is that the reason it’s been so low before was that America is pretty empty so rent/owning a house has been cheap, and now it’s getting to the point where anywhere near cities is too built up to do the same now.

Europe (and Asia I think) has always been like this and the idea of staying with your family, usually because it’s cheaper (and also looking after family)

4. It’s not everyone.

I’m 27 and my dad keeps on asking me to stay. “our strength is in our numbers” he has always said.

3. Extenuating circumstances.

In our circumstance, we said to our 18 year old son, “You can’t have your girlfriend over to our house while we’re at work and have loud s^x with her while your little sister is home. Give your sister some money and send her to the park for an hour, take her to her grandparents’ house, SOMETHING. This is not okay.”

“Junior, we told you not to do this. Your girlfriend’s moaning and wailing is embarrassing and upsetting. Stop it. This is our house, these are our rules: no loud s^x while your sister’s home. Go to your girlfriend’s house. Get a hotel room.”

“Junior, if you do this one more time, we’re going to kick you out, we’re serious. This is not your house, you pay no rent. We decide what goes on in our house, and this loud moaning and s^x talk cannot go on while your little sister’s home. If you disrespect us and your sister again, you’re out. Do you understand?”

He left us no choice.

Well, she did, really. All she had to do was be quiet, for Christ’s sake.

2. A setup for failure.

My grandmother kicked me out when I was 19. I was working at taco bell for. 7.25 an hour. Gave me 3 months to save up and move out. Kinda impossible making that little. Plus I had to pay for school out of pocket.

Slept outside for 2 days. Called crying asking to come back. She said nah, it’s time you learn how to be a man.

And I never went back. Maybe cause I didn’t talk to her lot or interact socially, But I still think it was f**ked up. Roadmap for failure in the future.

1. Parsing words.

A bit of context you’re missing is that in America, it is/was expected that you move out when you’re 18.

This is a bit of an artifact from a couple decades ago. But the idea was, nobody wanted to stay at home after 18. You turned 18, you were done with school, you could get a job and your own place, have some freedom, live your life.

Compare and contrast to some cultures where you’re expected to live with your parents until you get married. That idea is stifling to many Americans.

Now, all that is different than being kicked out at 18. But that’s the context. Now take a family that has issues, parents who are struggling or abusive in some way, they’ll go “you’re 18, this is America. Get out!”

I kind of love these discussions, I’m not gonna lie.

Did your parents kick you out at 18? Did they have another deal with you? Tell us your experience in the comments!