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How to Deal with a Defiant 18-Year-Old


I have an 18-year-old who is completely defiant. She is mean, disrespectful, will not help at all around the house, goes out and spends the night in places we don't know, and drinks. She has been lying nonstop to us and stole my adult son's alcohol from our fridge. Most alcohol is locked in a cabinet except stuff that needs refrigerated. What can we do? With the age of majority at 19, can we kick her out? Are there other options for co-sequencing an 18-year-old? We made her get her own cell phone plan and car insurance.​


It's so good to see you reaching out for help and support with what is going on with your daughter. From the information you have shared, it sounds like you are in a difficult place with her and are looking for any help that will be beneficial for both you and your child.

Eighteen can be such a tough age. Often, they see themselves as adults already and think they know what is best for them. They tend to want the freedom and privileges of being an adult but aren't willing to see the consequences those things could come with yet. When dealing with teenagers who have this mindset, it can be good to take a different approach on guiding them to make better choices for themselves and for their future. In terms of the drinking and staying out in places that you are not familiar with; it could be good to share some health and safety concerns with her. Sometimes educating them on how detrimental doing things like that at a young age can be eye opening for them. Maybe even finding stories or testimonies to share of other teens who have suffered consequences could be helpful.

As far as kicking her out, if you went this route, you could face legal trouble with her not being the age of majority yet. But if your daughter has expressed she is not happy with the rules and expectations that you as the parent have set and does not want to obey them, you can share with her that since she is 18, if she is ready to be out on her own and not have those rules, then she is more than welcome to on her own free will. Unfortunately, if she chooses this route, you as the parent are still responsible for things such as medical care/insurance.

Being consistent with your messaging in terms of your expectations and rules and the consequences she will face is very important. Youth have a hard time understanding their parents are not against them but instead, care about them deeply and want to set them up for success. You are already taking great strides in this tough situation. Continue to instill in her the dangers of what she is doing. Have those tough conversations with her about why she is acting out, and finally, let her know that although she is doing things that are concerning and maybe disappointing, that you are still there for her.

Thanks again for reaching out to our hotline. Know that we are always here for you and your family as you navigate situations like this. Besides email, you can also reach us 24/7/365 by calling 1-800-448-3000.


Crisis Counselor