Help your teen to transition into independent living.

How to Prepare Your Teen for Independent Living

by Erica Loop

While you might not want to admit that your teen is getting close to adulthood, the time for her to move out and live on her own -- or at least with roommates -- is approaching sooner than you think. The teen years are a time when kids are gaining the confidence to act in an independent manner, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics' Healthy Children website. Whether your teen is going off to college or moving into her own apartment, preparing her for independent living can ease this major life transition and help her to care for herself.

Let go of your grip on your soon-to-be young adult. While you don't need to kick your teen out or pretend like you aren't there for her anymore, you do need to acknowledge that she is ready to move out on her own. Telling her that she's still your "baby" or bursting into tears every time that she brings up her new apartment won't help either of you to make this transition.

Prepare her for all of the chores and tasks that she will need to do daily in her own home. Give her more responsibility before she moves out, asking her to help you with the house cleaning, do the grocery shopping or take on laundry duty.

Help your teen to understand basic money management principles. While she doesn't need to leave home knowing how to buy and sell stocks, she does need to understand how to balance a check book, plan a budget and keep track of her credit card spending. The AAP suggests that parents have their teens create a yearly budget for entertainment costs, clothing and extras. This can help your teen to understand the in's and out's of managing her money before she has to pay for rent, bills and her own food costs. When she does step out on her own, help her to prepare a budget that includes her independent living expenses such as her phone bill, car insurance or other transportation costs.

Discuss homesickness with your teen. Although your teen may seem like she's bursting at the seams to get out of your house, when she gets to college -- or moves into her first apartment -- she may suddenly miss you, her friends from home and her siblings. Let her know that it is completely normal and common to feel homesick, and that this emotion will quickly pass. If her homesickness is getting the best of her when she moves out, suggest that she join a college club or visit more populated places such as a college library or coffee house.

Give her all of her important documents and cards, including her social security and health insurance cards. Instruct your teen to find a safe storage space for these items such as a desk drawer with a lock on it.

Talk to your teen about her health care. When she moves out she won't have Mom there to make an appointment with the pediatrician. If she is going to college, have her locate the school's health center. Teens who are moving into off-campus housing, or aren't going to school, will want to know where the nearest urgent care clinic and hospital are.

Send your teen to a cooking class. This will help her get to know the basics of food prep and will allow her to cook for herself. Teens who have a college meal plan won't need to know how to cook for themselves, but may need guidance when it comes to healthy eating choices.


  • Let your teen know that it's perfectly acceptable to call you for help. While you want her to act independently, she isn't going to know everything that an adult would know right away. If the toilet clogs or the sink won't drain, she might need your assistance to figure out what she needs to do.


  • Warn your teen about avoiding risky activities such as drinking alcohol or using drugs. When she is no longer under your watchful eye, she may feel like it's acceptable to go to alcohol-spiked parties or have her boyfriend spend the night. Discuss the consequences of using substances and engaging in unprotected sex before she moves out on her own.
  • Take caution when it comes to credit cards. It's likely that your teen won't qualify for a credit card on her own just yet. Help her to build her credit history by co-signing for one with her or opting for a pre-paid version. If you do give her a credit card, keep track of her monthly spending.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

Photo Credits

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