My Son Isn’t Going to College but at 18, It Will Be Time for Him to Leave

My oldest son will be a senior this fall. He’s already made the decision not to go to college– it’s not a fit for him right now. He’s certain of that. And I’m not going to push him. I always thought my kids would want to scurry off to attend a university like I did, but he feels it in his soul that it’s not for him.

After my son turns 18, it’s time for him to go out on his own. (Twenty20 @vinnikava)

My son is not going to college

And who am I to argue? Sure, I could force him, make him resent me and pile up debt at an alarming rate for something he doesn’t even want in his life, but I’ll skip that. He is free to change his mind whenever he wants and he knows he will have his parents support whether he stays with his current plan, or changes it up.


After he turns eighteen, we both know (because we’ve discussed it), it will be time for him to venture out on his own.

He will be18 and it’s time for him to live on his own

My son is a hard worker. He’s motivated and currently has lots of money in the bank because he picks up as many hours as he can get working as a plumber’s assistant, and is a saver. He knows how to budget and takes pride in the things he spends his money on.

But, he is a teenager and is used to the feeling of having a roof over his head and food in the fridge. He doesn’t like cleaning up after himself and has been known to ruin things that aren’t his and that he hasn’t paid for–like my wireless earbuds, and all my tools and beach towels he uses to work on his car.

Letting him stay living at home rent free until “whenever” won’t be doing him any favors. I think that trading some of his security and the comforts I provide, for his independence, will help him grow up. Maybe he will come to appreciate what it means to be warm and have running water and a roof over his head.

I could let him stay but that’s not best for either of us

Sure, I could let him stay living at home and remind him continuously that as long as he lives under my roof, he needs to follow my rules. I could make him pay rent and his portion of the utilities. But I know him, and I don’t think he will be as motivated to make it on his own if I do that.

I don’t want to deal with him having friends over late at night and I’m sure he wants the freedom to do that.

It’s just too easy for him to take his privileges for granted, if he stays here. Old habits are hard to break. The sooner he writes his own rent checks, sees how expensive cable really is, and does his own grocery shopping instead of having me do it only to have him say “there’s no food in the house,” the sooner he will appreciate and value his time, my time and he’ll develop a new respect for money.

As his mom, of course I want to make things easy for him. I can’t do that with an eighteen year old, and have a child who is responsible and independent. The two just don’t go together in my book.

I’m not saying I’m breaking his dinner plate over the table and telling him to get out on his eighteenth birthday. I will always be here to support and help him. He also knows this will always be his home and if something should happen and he falls on hard times, he can come back until he can straighten things out for himself.

It will be hard to let him go, but it’s the right thing

It’s going to be extremely hard for me when he is on his own and I will miss him deeply. Believe me, the moment he was born was the moment I decided he would live with me forever. But, I now know that his leaving and getting a place of his own is the right step for him.

All kids are different. I’m not saying I think all kids should get a place of their own out of high school if they don’t decide to go to college. I’m saying that is what will be right for my son.

Sure, I’ll be a mess for a while, but supporting in doing what’s right for us both, and letting him do his thing and explore who he wants to be is important to both of us.

He says he knows he has the power to live the life he wants but I really want him to see that for himself. And the sooner he does that, the better.

More to Read:

50 Things You Can Do When You Turn 18: Who Knew? This is a long list of what reaching the age of 18 means, legally.

Our Teens Need to Know that Trade Jobs are Sitting Empty College is not the only route to success and happiness after high school. Having a career in a trade can be rewarding and a better fit for many teens.

About Katie BinghamSmith

Katie Bingham-Smith lives in Maine with her three kids. She is a Staff Writer at Scary Mommy, shoe addict and pays her kids to rub her feet. You can see more of her on Facebook and Instagram .

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