Your Daughter at 18 and Beyond: Milestones

Reviewed by Renee A. Alli, FAAP, MD on March 07, 2021

Your daughter is in their final teen years, yet they are considered an adult. They still depend on you for a home base -- literally, emotionally, and financially -- but is also trying to be responsible for themselves.

At 18, your daughter is deciding who they are and what they want. They're trying on different versions of their life. All at once, they're focused on themselves and becoming aware of the big world out there.

Your daughter is an emerging adult. It's a very in-between time. They're optimistic. They're nervous. And they'll hit many more developmental milestones this year.

At this age, your daughter is capable of intelligent back-and-forth conversations. They may not always feel like talking, but are often eager to share their opinions about what's going on in the world. Unlike at earlier ages, they're now able to listen and consider other points of view.

Your daughter is moving beyond cliques and developing deeper friendships. They may enjoy dating or seek out a more meaningful romantic relationship. Peer pressure isn't as much of an influence anymore. If they want to try something, they are more interested in what the experts say than their peers.

Your 18-year-old daughter is doing one of two big things emotionally. If they are used to expressing all of their emotions, they'll learn how to control them. If they keep things bottled up, they'll become more in touch with their feelings and healthy ways to share them.

Though more than half the girls their age are dieting, your 18 year old will likely add a small, healthy amount of fat around their arms, legs, breasts, and hips.

They stay up late and wake up late, but still needs a decent amount of sleep. Let them catch up on the weekends.

As your daughter becomes more independent, they'll have more opportunities to struggle. Believe it or not, this is a good thing. It’ll help them explore their support systems and build resilience.

There are times to step in and times to stand back. Expect arguments and conflict. They may not want physical affection from you -- they may not even want to be near you -- but they still need to know you care. Help them transition into someone who can take care of themselves by talking about feelings and healthy ways to express them.

Part of being an adult means having free rein on the internet, but your daughter still needs support when it comes to their online life. Though not 100% effective, tracking software shows you the sites they've visited. Before you set anything up, have a conversation with them about new freedoms, safe surfing, avoiding divulging too much personal information, and making online purchases safely.

Big changes can sometimes cause big disappointments. Your daughter may move past things that cause sadness after a few days or may stay stuck in depression. Look for signs that they're not interested in things they usually enjoys, or that they have sleeping issues or a consistently low energy level.

Some 18-year-old girls may turn to drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with big feelings or to fit in. This will be more difficult to monitor when they're living outside the home, so make sure they know the consequences of underage consumption and all their options and resources.

Keep the conversation about safe sex going. As their awareness expands, they'll be more capable of in-depth conversations about STDs, stalking, rape, date rape, and teen pregnancy.

Heavy topics, right? Dig in. This final stage of adolescence isn’t easy for you or your daughter. Ask questions. Listen to the answers. Agree to disagree when you don't see eye-to-eye. Be a parent, not a friend. And take heart: It may not feel like it, but they still need you.

Show Sources


American Psychological Association: "Emerging adults: The in-between age."

Parent Further: "Ages 15-18: Developmental Overview."

Minnesota State University Mankato: "Emerging Adulthood."

The Whole Child: "Signs of Normal Development Stages Ages 13-18."

Children's Health: "Wellness by Age: 17-18 years."

National Institute of Mental Health: "Teen Depression."

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