Everything A Parent Needs to Know When Your Child Turns 18

Quick Tips from Celebrations to Legal Implications

Turning 18 is a big deal, not just from a parent's emotional perspective, but legally too. Here's a quick rundown on everything you need to know.

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    "Turning 18," a California Bar Association Foundation publication. Photo by Jackie Burrell

    Eighteen is a magic birthday, a milestone into adulthood accompanied by great privileges as well as serious legal implications. At 18, your teen can vote, buy a house or wed his high school sweetheart. He can also go to jail, get sued and gamble away his tuition in Vegas. Here are five major ways the law impacts new adults.

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    Photo by Jan Stastny, Stock.Xchng Photos

    There hasn't been a military draft in the United States since the 1970s, but your son still has to register. Here's the lowdown on who, why, where and how, plus a little background on the Selective Service and its link to college financial aid.

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    A doctor's bag. Photo courtesy of Sanja Gjenero, Stock.Xchng Photos

    It's natural for parents to get all sentimental when their kids turn 18, but that milestone carries profound legal implications for parents, too. Want to see your 18-year-old's medical records? His grades? No can do (unless your child formally agrees). Here are five, often unexpected ways your child's big birthday will impact you.

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    Law Library. Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images

    You know that sweet teen romance, the one between your 18-year-old child and his or her slightly younger beau? Be careful. While statutory rape and similar laws were written to protect children from abuse by older, predatory partners, teenagers can get caught in the crossfire. What's permissible in some states means jail time in others, and enforcement can range from a slap on the wrist to a decade in jail and having to register as a sex offender for life.

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    Federal Privacy Laws, Your Child's Grades & You

    Photo courtesy of Petr Kovar, Stock.Xchng Photos

    Those same federal privacy laws that allowed you access to your child's school records, and the opportunity to inspect and review his transcripts and disciplinary records, morph into a locked door when your child turns 18. Here's why, and what you can do about it.

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    Father and son talking

     43% of parents have not had detailed conversations with family members about long-term care and elder care; another 23% haven’t had any conversations on these topics at all.

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    pills spilling from bottle


    Drug and alcohol use and abuse by college students has long been a concern for parents. It is part of the process of getting their children ready for college for parents to help their young adults understand the very real dangers of the college party scene, which includes, among other things, binge drinking, roofies, and taking prescription drugs for recreational use.

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    Jane Cleary, Stock.Xchng Photos

    Just because the kids are grown doesn't mean you have to give up family vacations. In fact, an increasing number of families with teens, college kids, and 20somethings continue to vacation together, at least occasionally. So here are tips on structuring the perfect family vacation - when everyone's grown up.

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    Photo by Denis Jr. Tangney, iStock

    Teens and 20somethings are adventuresome travel companions, who enjoy a mix of outdoor adventure, cultural immersion, fine dining and cool shopping. So here's a sampling of five great vacation destinations - Montreal sightseeing, voluntourism in New Orleans, beaches, jungles, and adventure - for families with young adults.

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    young adults savings

    Some parents are great at teaching their children about the ins and outs of saving, spending, budgeting and planning, and some young people intuitively understand the importance and the skills needed to be responsible and smart with their finances. However, for many young adults, being faced with a limited income, the need to budget, and the unexpected expenses that can - and do - arise in life can be a challenge. 

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    young woman at job interview

    Job interviews are never easy. The idea of presenting our best selves during a 15-minute conversation makes even the most confident person nervous - especially if it's a young adult who is fairly new at the interviewing process. As newly-minted graduates begin their job hunts, it's important to keep in mind a few essentials that will make the interview process successful. 


    Edited by Sharon Greenthal