Turning 18 often means leaving home, and that can be a really difficult transition for both teens and their parents. We’ve seen both teens and moms write about what the experience is like, and there always seem to be certain common themes: love, gratitude, assurance, sage advice… But one mom– the mom who wrote the letter below– went for more of a no-nonsense approach.
In the letter below, the mother writes to her 18-year-old daughter as she prepares to leave home, and Mom lays out 15 surprising tips for navigating the real world as an adult.
Check out her honest advice below:
1. In 3 years’ time, I can kick you out of your home.
Sounds scary, right? Definitely. When you reach 18, you’ll have two possible courses of action available to you:
You go to university, and I’ll support you as much as I can until you graduate or find a job. Or you’ll say no to university (and I’ll never condemn you if you do this) and go straight to work. And in that case, you’ll have to look after yourself. I won’t support a girl over 18 who isn’t in education because I don’t think it’s the right thing to do. You have three years to decide…
And we’ve already thought of a new purpose for your room. It’s going to be our bedroom.
2. You’re wonderful. You’re beautiful. You’re very clever.
You’re a lot better than me. You’re a truly wonderful person. I’ve known you for 15 years, and you’re way more amazing than I could ever have imagined in my wildest dreams. If someone doesn’t understand this, that’s their problem (well, it’s also your dad’s problem to some extent as well).
3. I am not an example for you to follow.
You’re a completely different person to me. You have your own individual personality. You don’t have to love what I love. You have every right to overrule my authority and to not share my values. There’s one nuance to this, though: you’ll have to bear responsibility for your own choices.
4. You’re a free person. I have no expectations.
You can become a mechanic, a business analyst, a homemaker, a beauty therapist, a high-level manager, or someone who works at the cash desk in a supermarket. I don’t think it’s my place to interfere in the path you choose in this life. But still, don’t forget about point number 1.
5. You don’t owe me anything.
I didn’t bring you up expecting you to repay a debt. I don’t expect you to provide for me when I’m old. You have the right to choose to focus on what’s important to you, on what you value. It’s your life and your choice.
6. You have a home.
Whatever happens to you in this life, I will be by your side if you need me. I’ll support you, share in your happiness and your sorrow, and I’ll try to help if you ask me. But I won’t interfere uninvited.
7. I have my own life.
I’m under no obligation to come and help at the snap of your fingers. I don’t have to drop whatever I’m doing for you or sacrifice my comfort entirely for yours. I can. But I don’t have to.
8. You have your own life.
Who you marry, whether you have kids, what kind of people you’re attracted to, who you vote for — that’s all your business. My views, passions, and convictions should have no defining influence on you. You should do what your heart and your conscience tell you to do. When you do, you won’t lose me, and you won’t cease to be my daughter.
9. No one aims to hurt you.
This isn’t easy to understand, but it’s the truth: everyone is thinking about themselves. I am too. Every person out there, whatever their circumstances, simply behaves in a way they think is right. No one is deliberately aiming to make your life worse. They’re simply doing what they think is best for them, as they see it, and nothing more. It’s just that your map of life and theirs don’t entirely match.
10. Life isn’t fair.
There aren’t any guaranteed ways to achieve success or avoid misfortune. You are not in control of this world. You can do everything right and still end up in a crappy situation. You could do everything wrong and end up living the high life. The only thing you need to worry about is being honest. Don’t lie to yourself. Learn to understand yourself. Try to fully grasp your true needs and feelings. And think about what will be best for you.
11. What is good for you will always be bad for someone else.
When you get that job or place at university, someone else loses their chance. When you go on a date with someone, the chances are that was or could have been someone else’s first love. You might even take someone’s favorite place at the movie theater. But don’t worry about it, because what’s bad for you will be good for someone else, so you’re quits.
12. The only person you can believe in 100% is yourself.
No, not even me. Just you. I can’t get entirely inside your head, and you’ll always leave things unsaid, or hide something, from everyone. I know this because I do it myself. I have a mom as well. Only you know EVERYTHING about yourself. So only you know what you’re capable of.
13. Don’t shift responsibility to others.
From 18 years of age, you’ll be responsible for what happens in your life. Bring up your own kids if you think you can do it on your own. Take up that challenging job if you think you can manage it. Emigrate if you think you’ll survive on your own in a foreign country. ALONE. If you’re lucky and you find people willing to help you, then it will be easier. But no one is OBLIGED to help you. Remember that.
14. Be prepared.
Every action has a consequence. The chances are you won’t foresee all of them. But try to at least consider as many as you can. The more potential outcomes of your actions that you can think of, the more rational your behavior will be.
15. You don’t have to listen to me.
I’ve offered you 14 points that I think will help make your life better than mine has been. But, as I said above, you are not me. Don’t compare yourself to me. Don’t think that our lives should or can correspond in every way. I always wanted to bring a person into this world who will live their own life. So go and live it.
15a. Just don’t come back and complain about it later.
15b. And don’t ever turn off your phone. It makes me worry.
Share this mom’s powerful advice today!