Say you have a child 18 and you’re still supporting them:

Are they really an adult?

I know what the calendar says. I know according to many laws of the land, an eighteen year old can enter into a contract. They can go to war. But if Mommy and Daddy are footing all the bills, are they actually an adult?

Does an adult need to be financially responsible?

We pay my daughters tuition. We do not have access to her grades. In fact, no parent has access to the grades of a college student who is 18 or over.

We pay for my daughter’s health insurance. We are not allowed to consult with her Doctors unless she specifically says so.

Shouldn’t there be some expectation that we should know what we are paying for? Or does it not matter who is paying? 18 is an adult is an adult…

Discuss:

60 thoughts on “The Age Old Question

  1. This IS frustrating. This all started when privacy legislation came in. I remember when I first encountered the “privacy” of students’ marks when I worked at a university. Everyone agreed it was causing more challenges than made any sense, but registrars were/are bound by the law. Unfortunately I can’t imagine a manageable system whereby who is paying for the student’s study gets recorded and marks kept private or not depending. But this can’t have been one of the primary targets of privacy legislation! Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My daughters university has a form that the student can fill out allowing parents access. However, the kid has to fill out the form…what’s funny is, my daughter has a cabinet position in her sorority for the next year. The members must giver her a copy of transcript because if you’re not at a certain level, your membership is suspended. So my daughter will know grades that someone’s parents won’t….

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  2. I always find this a tricky issue. In my opinion, 18 isn’t a magical age that should suddenly thrust a young person into handling all things adultlike. I think it depends on the individual. Some are more ready than others. Only having one of my children go to college (and he gets it for free because he served in the military), I could see having a problem with paying for it and having no idea how he’s doing. That’s A LOT of money to fork over and not know if it’s being put to good use. So in that area, I would think a child should understand the need to be aware of how they’re doing. But with medical care, to me that seems a bit more personal. Even with paying for their healthcare costs, not sure I would demand access to their medical records. However, I might insist on that child paying for their copays and deductibles. In the end, I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all model for an adult child.

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    1. I agree that medical is trickier. I guess I’d like to be included in the decision if she’s I’ll, as she might be smart but doesn’t have enough life experience to maybe make a decision about options

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    2. Ok…in a bizarre coincidence….I was doing household stuff after I responded. The thing I opened was a receipt for when my daughter went to doctor while at school. I needed to pay the residual. The bill comes to me. How do I know what I’m paying for and if it’s good? Now, because my daughter told me, I know she wasn’t feeling well and they tested her for strep (cause people still get sick from other things…😉) but what if I didn’t know if this was a good charge? And whose phone number do I use…hers or mine? And which email do I provide when asked?

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  3. It’s been awhile, but I suppose I never thought much about the grade thing as I felt pretty confident that the kids would be open if there was an issue. I suppose the same sort of applies personally with medical issues. If they found themselves facing something serious I have a hunch they would have involved me with questions, help, etc. I see your side of the issue, legally speaking versus maturity level…there can be a wide difference in determining what is best.

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    1. It’s like I just said to Stephanie. I just opened a bill my daughter had from going to the doctor at school. She’s the patient but I get the bill. Am I supposed to pay it blindly without asking her if it’s right? Now, in this case, I knew my daughter thought she had strep, but what if she hasn’t told me? Am I violating her privacy if I ask? Should I pay a bill I can’t verify?

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      1. Well of course asking and being given a reply are two different things! In general, as a parent I see a situation whereby you, and your reasonably intelligent and mature child should have these issues firmly on the “to discuss” list when planning for college: What are the established levels of trust and responsibility on both sides? Academic/medical waivers or no? Expectations from the financially responsible parent versus the quasi-adult child? And, I would say in some cases serious discussions about exactly what will and won’t be paid for based on academic performance, and even a certain right to healthcare privacy. All of the above is why I am a
        strong advocate of NOT waiting to last semester, senior year of HS to have these discussions 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’ve had these conversations etc with my kid. But I’m willing to bet most don’t. I’m going to continue this on Friday with the medical question I talked about n comments. I think it’s worth a look specifically about what you do when you receive a medical bill

        Liked by 1 person

  4. i pay for their stuff because it brings me joy to. they are not obligated to keep me informed on their health. I will ask but if the feel the need for privacy i will not make them feel bad for that. They are my kids, my children no matter what age they are. And i will help them when they’re 70 years old if i am still alive to do so. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

      1. But is asking them violating their privacy? I think I’m going to blog about this specifically on Friday if you want to wait and see what I’ve thought about it

        Liked by 2 people

    1. With grades my daughter will say they sucked and then be on the deans list…so I’m not worried there. But literally after I wrote this post I was going through my in box and a bill from a recent check up for my daughter came through. I’m required to pay it. The bill is addressed to me and my husband. But how do I k ow it’s right? Am I allowed to dispute it?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I find this unacceptable on so many levels as if I’m paying for something, then I feel it’s my right to know what the grades are etc. I have a hard time with deeming 18 as adult if you’re still living off my money freely, but are able to do what you want with your grades/classes etc. It puts us all in an awkward position of choosing to pay/not to pay for college, health insurance, etc. Luckily for the most part, my kids share with me so it’s not been too much of an issue. But…I don’t think we had that like we have it now when we were 18? I remember my college transcript coming home to my parents’ house every semester with the grades. While I was ‘considered an adult’ I also knew that my parents were paying for my education. Interesting…good discussion.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Oh, I remember well when we realized we wouldn’t have access to our son’s grades. Even though we were footing all the bills. Something wrong about that. At least we weren’t shocked when the daughter entered university.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. On the medical note, our 18-year-old grandson was thrust into the adult world when diagnosed with a serious medical condition last summer. He had to handle everything—scheduling, test results, etc. They even informed him he had a terminal condition without his parents or any other support systems in the room. I’m proud of how he handled it all, but should he have had to? He’s still in his parents’ insurances after all.

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      1. I was there when he was navigating the whole pre-surgical stuff and I wanted to kick somebody’s ass. They didn’t care that he was 18 and facing a scary procedure without a road map.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. We had a big issue with this when our oldest child was a freshman in college. By the time our younger daughter was in college, we accepted it. I wrote about orientation with my daughter where one speaker talked about how this generation isn’t growing up until their mid to late twenties while we became adults at age 18-20.

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  9. Research shows that the brain’s frontal cortex, our reasoning center, is not fully developed until our late 20s. Maybe we become adults at age 27 or 28? My daughter joined the Army at age 17. Was in the war zone in Iraq when she was 18. I’d say she was an adult. I was in Junior College and working 17-19, while living with my parents. Paying my own way except for where I slept. Totally on my own at 19. When do we become adults? I think once we take responsibility for our lives and go our own way

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  10. All three were required by ME to allow me access to their school records. They had nothing to hide and I never once logged in (other than to pay tuition or buy school books) to their school accounts. They were always glad to show me their transcripts before I asked. My experience with insurance has been they will speak to you about the EOB but nothing more. That is usually all I needed to know. Any “odd” doc visits I simply asked about. I did run into an issue with the state revenue collection group. When filing tax returns I used my address so if there was an issue and correspondence it was sent to me. Our youngest spent 3 years couch surfing etc after his freshman yr in the dorms. Maryland went after him because of my address. I explained he was homeless and used my address on his 1040 return to guarantee any correspondence was received. Found out Maryland was using the IRS 1040 filing data looking for people with a MD address and no MD tax return….. talk about sneaky.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I think the biggest line here is that even though you are paying for things, once they turn 18 it really becomes more of a choice. You can choose to not pay for that health insurance or tuition after they turn 18, but it isn’t expected as it is before that point. It is annoying and frustrating especially when your kid hasn’t had to make the calls about medical stuff or appointments up until that point and has no clue what to do when they have to (yes, I’ve run into that and it was SO fun walking him through some stupid stuff because insurance made a mistake). That said, they do need to learn at some point, though tossing them into the deep end the day they turn 18 isn’t the answer either.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I admit I started having my daughter make her own calls at like 16, because I wanted to ease her into it. But there’s still a steep learning curve of r teaching them how advocate for their health. I would like to let them learn the hard way, but with health issues it gets trickier

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Age 18 is the start of adulthood. Years ago (some might say eons) I was eighteen and starting college, I was not an adult. Not in the least. This was my first brush with independence. My sister and I both left home when we were twenty. I fully realize my son will be with us for a good long time even after university to save up for his own place. He won’t fully be an adult until he can afford things on his own. But I do believe we start that journey the moment we realize we can’t keep home the way it was. We need to make our own.

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  13. I agree it is a crazy situation. Fortunately my college daughter was very open with me about everything except her grades but she was a good student and she had goals so I wasn’t really worried. It is kind of frustrating though when we are paying for things but not having access to the info.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. The truth is that eaglets will never become eagles as long as they remain in the nest. It is the responsibility of parents to allow their children to take on responsibilities when they reach the age of 18. This has become a serious issue in my country (Nigeria), where university graduates return home to rely on their parents.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. When I worked in a UK University, it was made clear to the students that they were the responsible adult, regardless of who was paying. That meant they had to be actively involved in all the administration and processes, but also that their grades belonged to them, and they controlled who got access to that information. It was no different for mature postgraduate students whose employers were funding their studies – on both the subject of payment and release of grades/reports. I can see how it could be frustrating but, when they are legally an adult, then despite being their parent, you have to respect that fact and treat them likewise. Respect is a two-way street.

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    1. My husband had both his masters degrees paid for by the company. However, he had to front the cost and in order to get reimbursed he had to submit his grades. My daughter is on the cabinet of the sorority in charge of academics, which means all sorority members must give her a copy of their most recent transcript because they have to be at a certain GPA. Failure to do so results in being suspended

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  16. I tend to go with 18 is an adult. That definition can change from household to household, and from individual to individual. For example, our daughters live on their own and pay bills. They’re both still on the health insurance, and we pay for their cell phone bills, and car upkeep. Are they adults? Yep. Do I need to know what the therapist said because we pay for the appointment? Nope.

    I also think society needs to recognize a continuum of the word “adult.” You can be an 18-yo-adult, but I think what some of us thinks that means varies from person to person.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very true. Clearly the word adult varies from person to person. But the bill paying thing for health, which I’m going into more on Friday…do you ask your kid if the bill is correct, or do you just pay?

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  17. Boy you are asking difficult questions these days. I suppose 18 is an adult of sorts but…I tend to think of them as pre-adult. Not having access to grades or medical info is just the way it is now. ChrisG

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  18. Every child is different. Every child matures at a different speed. Just to make it more complicated, some parents hardly know their kids, and some are incredible close. I don’t think there’s any “rules” – or even if there are any expectations of what somebody should be taking lone responsibility for at a given stage or age. Everybody is different. Every relationship is different.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. If you pay the bill, you should have the right to know what you are paying for. Our government does this to us all the time. “Here’s a 2,000 page document. If you want to know what is in it, vote for it and then you’ll know what you ‘bought.’ “

    Liked by 1 person

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