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What Age Should I Let Go of My Teen?

Written by: Daniel Currie • Published: Monday, June 19, 2023

There becomes a time in all parents' lives when they face the tough decision of letting go of their teen or young adult. Although there is no black-and-white answer to this challenging question, this article will reveal when the timing is right- and when not.

Table of Contents

Letting Go of My Teen

AGE: Too Young

AGE: Too Old

AGE: Just Right

The Upbringing Method

The Milestone Method




Letting Go of My Teen

Every family has their dynamics, structures, ideologies, and cultures¹. That said, like a fingerprint, every family is unique. When raising teens today, regardless of the background, there are certain junctures in time and cues to ensure we, as parents, do not overstep that time when we need to let go of our teens. The goal of any parent should be to ensure we are guiding teenagers into adulthood to allow them to flourish on their own. We should NEVER hinder them from their young adult independence and growth- prompting the question, "What age should I let go of my teen?"


AGE: Too Young

CurlyStache Blogs | Young teen not wanting to listen to mom's wisdom

One of the most critical factors is age¹. There must be a firm understanding that too young is just as bad as too old. Young teens are not psychologically ready to be granted free reign with their life decisions; you can find a clue of this since the law typically will not allow it until they are 18. However, if you relinquish power to your teen like this, ensure you are not falling into some negative characteristics of being a Permissive Parent.

AGE: Too Old

CurlyStache Blogs | Young woman feeling belittled by mom

On the flip side, being too old and still maintaining some, if not complete, control over your young adult could be just as damaging. For example (under normal circumstances), a 22-year-old paying rent and living with their parents has to ask permission to go to a concert with friends of the same age and gender. At this point, not only is your young adult feeling belittled for not being allowed to make their own decisions after already living about ¼ of their life. But now they have to cope while other friends can live their lives and make most of their own choices. Furthermore, there is a high chance they are getting judged by their peers because they still need to ask permission from their mommy and daddy. Generally speaking, parents who find themselves doing this, knowingly or inadvertently, usually have good intentions but have more conservative viewpoints as they try to look out for their children. It is a slippery slope because, on one side of the razor's edge, it is all about good intentions and upbringing. Still, on the other side, it is hindering their growth emotionally and socially. If you navigate this touchy zone, the article Authoritarian Parent will further articulate differences and what will help and hurt your young adult.

AGE: Just Right

CurlyStache Blogs | Father & son happy in each other's company

So, too young is a horrible idea, and too old is just as bad? So when? Again, it must be stressed more: there is no correct answer here. Our primary job as parents is to ensure we are raising teens today with everything they will need to succeed in life, for when the day comes, they have a solid ground to stand on. We, as parents, have the time they were born until they are on their own to mold them into the great people we want them to be.


The Upbringing Method

CurlyStache Blogs | Happy mother, father & daughter hugging

In our time with them, we must show our children right from wrong, how to deal with adversity, manage stress, disappointment, and defeat. In addition, we must infuse our morals, beliefs, and traditions- and they must be deeply ingrained. Furthermore, we need to be there for them emotionally and critically, it must be unconditionally- especially during the younger years as they lack maturity; in doing this, not only do we forge a bond stronger than steel, but it will also give them confidence when they are on their own, especially in the workplace and socially. If done correctly, when your child comes of age and begins doing age-appropriate things (i.e., driving a car, being 18 years old and being able to buy a lottery ticket, working full time, getting a college education, purchasing alcohol, etc.), they will be ready for it socially and emotionally.

The Milestone Method

CurlyStache Blogs | 18 year old birthday cake with 3 girls in background

If your child is ready for the next milestone, such as working full time, allow them to do so and let them know you are still there for them. By doing this, you are taking the baby-step approach, letting them grow up while gradually letting go and watching from the sidelines. This way, if they fall, you are still there to assist in picking them up and helping, even if it means they weren't ready for (whatever)- now you know what needs improving before feeling comfortable in completely letting go. Allow them to conquer all of life's significant milestones. Furthermore, allow them to come to you for suggestions, support, and advice; they will appreciate the help rather than the authoritarianism.


CurlyStache Blogs | Handicapped daughter dancing with father in wheelchair

Now, of course, there are exceptions to every rule. Sometimes traditions play a role where the parent lets go of their daughter at the time of her marriage. Other times there is a physical barrier, such as being handicapped. Even mental barriers affect when to let go of your children too. In some cases, you may never be able to let your child grow and flourish on their own. For example, two lovely ladies go to my hair salon, one in their 80s, the other close to 60. My hair stylist told me the story behind them one day: The elderly lady was the younger lady's mother. The younger lady had ADHD all her life, and her mother has never left her side; even today, they still live in the same home with her mother caring for her at that age. Her mother never stopped her duties as a mom, even at her age. It truly made me appreciate her and all the sacrifices she must have made to be the excellent mother that she was.


In Conclusion

As you can see, many variables can factor in. Sometimes it is never possible to let go of your children; other times, your children may be ready for everything as they mature quickly and earlier in life. But in general, as long as they are raised in a good stable home with a robust set of morals and given the tools to deal with everyday emotions and situations, they will be more than ready. In addition, when the time comes to allow them to become more independent and thrive on their own, let them. Being scared for them is natural and good because it shows you care. As a parent, the best thing you can do is be there for them and, crucially, let them know you are a resource as they learn and grow. Now it is your turn to be the proud parent as you watch them succeed independently.

CurlyStache Blogs | Two hands receding away from each other

¹ This post is written with modern Western Culture / American Culture social beliefs.


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