Your Daughter at 18 and Beyond: Milestones

She's in her final teen years, yet she's considered an adult. She still depends on you for a home base -- literally, emotionally, and financially -- but is also trying to be responsible for herself.

At 18, your daughter is deciding who she is and what she wants. She's trying on different versions of her life. All at once, she's focused on herself and becoming aware of the big world out there.

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

Language

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

Social

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

Emotional

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

Physical

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

She stays up later and wakes up later, but still needs a decent amount of sleep. Let her catch up on the weekends.

Challenges

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

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

Continued

Part of being an adult means having free rein on the internet, but your daughter still needs support when it comes to her online life. Though not 100% effective, tracking software shows you the sites she's visited. Before you set anything up, have a conversation with her about new freedoms, safe surfing, and how she can protect herself financially for online purchases.

Big changes can sometimes cause big disappointments. Your daughter may move past things that cause sadness after a few days or she may stay stuck in depression. Look for signs that she's not interested in things she usually enjoys, or that she has 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 she's living outside the home, so make sure she knows the consequences of underage consumption and all her options and resources.

Keep the conversation about safe sex going. As her awareness expands, she'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 she still needs you.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on March 21, 2019

Sources

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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