No words a teenage daughter can utter tug at a parent’s fears quite like, “I’m moving out.” Whether it is said with quiet determination or in the heat of an argument, these words are a signal. They are your daughter’s declaration of independence. It is a signal that both you and your daughter need to recognize that she is growing up. In a few weeks, months or years, your daughter will be out of your house and living on her own.
Ignore the threat if it is said in the heat of the moment. Teens and adults can say things they regret when angry. This isn’t the time to force the teen to live out her threat. Instead, let her know that her departure isn’t the outcome you really want.
Separate and give both yourself and the teen the opportunity to calm down and deal with your feelings. The Australian Health Service encourages parents to meet their own emotional needs before tackling their teen's. Recognize that you, as the parent, might feel anxiety about your child’s future. You might fear she will try to follow-through and you worry what that will mean for her future. You might worry what others will think about you as a parent if your child wants to leave so young. Deal with your feelings before you talk with your daughter.
Work out problems together. After both you and your daughter calm down, sit and discuss any problems in your relationship. This doesn’t mean that your rules go out the window. According to an article at KidsHealth, parental expectations show care and love, not distrust. Discuss rules together, why you have them, and what they mean to the teen. Your 17-year-old daughter might feel that she should have no curfew, while you expect her to be home by 11. If her curfew hasn’t changed in several years, it might be time to revisit it. It might be that you can compromise with a later curfew on weekends or for special events.
Talk to your daughter about her plans. It is important that you both realize your daughter will be living on her own someday. Listen to your daughter’s hopes and plans for her future. Talk about the realities of living on your own such as budgeting and safety. Ask her about her plans for income and balancing a social life with her studies. Discuss what she will need and what she might expect to take from your home to a new home. It is important to remember that this isn’t a discussion to scare her or dissuade her from moving out. Instead, this is the first stage of her launching into the larger world.
Watch for personality changes in your daughter. If her desire to move out is accompnaied by depression or threats to hurt herself, contact a mental health professional immediately.