Despite how much parents might enjoy watching their kids grow up, most don’t look forward to the day that their child moves out of the family home.
They might want what’s best for their child, but their support might be more controlling in nature than positive, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor Numerous_Minute_7220 knew that her daughter was smart, but she was concerned about how immature her daughter was with college on the horizon.
Certain that her daughter would not make good decisions for herself, the Original Poster (OP) wanted her to wait at least a year to go to college.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for telling my daughter not to bother applying for college?”
The OP was concerned by how immature and dependent her daughter was.
“I (35 Female) have a 16-year-old daughter. My daughter has a late birthday (early to mid-December), so she is going into her senior year of high school at the age of 16.”
“She is a very smart girl, and I’m proud of what she’s accomplished.”
“But she’s also young and naive in a lot of ways. She’s easily manipulated. She doesn’t pay much attention to her surroundings. She can’t stand up for herself. She constantly still calls or texts me and her father for help with things.”
“More recently, I’ve also been concerned about her doing dangerous things or submitting to peer pressure from her ‘friends.’ I’ve met them, and they are not good kids. I’ve told her to stop talking to them, but she refuses and tries to go behind my back to spend time with them.”
The OP didn’t think she was ready for college.
“For these reasons (among others), her father and I have decided that we are not going to let her go off to college as long as she’s a minor under our care. This means that she won’t be going in fall 2024 because she doesn’t turn 18 until that December.”
“I am not trying to stifle her, but I do want her to be safe.”
“She was recently talking about starting to fill out college applications, and I told her not to bother. I explained that we weren’t letting her go until she was old enough to make that decision for herself.”
The OP’s daughter did not take this news well.
“She started crying and yelling at me, but I refused to budge. I don’t think I’m being unreasonable and, honestly, her reaction is more evidence of immaturity.”
“But apparently, she texted her Aunt, who has been calling me an a**hole.”
“It’s not that I will not allow her to go to college at all. I am absolutely willing to let her go to college once she’s 18. We will pay for it wherever she wants to go (we have the means).
“Am I the a**hole?”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some supported the OP and argued that she was trying to do what was right for her child.
“I think there are a few items here.”
“Let her go to college. It is a totally different dynamic from school: at school, parents and teachers are on your back about grades/assignments, etc. At college, it is all down to you.”
“Making her wait another year seems to me to be pointless, assuming she leaves high school and does… what? Spends a year waiting to get into college while working just because Mum and Dad say so?”
“And this feeds into something else. You are attempting to control your daughter’s behavior and relationships; she’s too immature, you don’t like her friends, etc.”
“As a parent, these are all understandable concerns, but your plan is doomed to fail and indeed backfire.”
“I have three teens, and nothing digs their heels in more than their parents saying no. Give her the freedom to live her life and just provide guidance. She’ll get far more value out of life by witnessing and learning from her own mistakes. She may very well behave in an immature fashion (we were all clueless 17-year-olds once upon a time), but again this is her experiencing life and its ups/downs, and it is what shapes us for the years ahead.”
“She may love college. She may hate it. She may get excellent grades. She may fail. But, it will be her decision. Let her make it.”
“NTA, you are just a concerned but overprotective parent, so this label doesn’t help.” – rifeChunder
“NTA. I’m not going to s**t all over you the way others have by making sweeping statements.”
“Put 100 seventeen-year-olds in a room, and they’ll all be at different stages of maturity. Furthermore, 17, 18, and even 19 and 20-year-olds think they know everything (and we as parents know nothing!). The brain is simply not fully developed at this age.”
“I’m going to suggest you and her father try to sit down with her to discuss this as dispassionately as possible. Are you able to involve an impartial mediator to help? I’d suggest that you ask her to demonstrate to you that she would be able to manage, given actions speak louder than words.”
“Best of luck.” – Comfortable_Meet_872
“NTA. Your daughter sounds like she isn’t mature enough to go to college. By not allowing her to go to college now, you are looking out for her safety.”
“I had an older sister just like this. She is eight, yes eight, years my senior, and my father wanted to know where she was and who she was with 24 hours a day, seven days a week because her friends could have talked her into jumping in front of a train.”
“I was ten and she was 18, and she had an earlier curfew than I did.” – BooCat3
“You are absolutely NTA. Trust your instincts. You know your daughter. As another writer suggested, allow her to apply to schools but request a gap year, and during the interim, she has time to work, take classes at a community college, volunteer, and figure out what she wants to major in.”
“It’s just a year and a half. It seems like a long time, but it really is not. Try to map out her time in the interim, so she is learning new things, facing new scenarios, thriving, growing, and maturing.” – Bright_Marzipan_6300
“NTA. I am going against the grain. Even if it is the parent’s fault that the girl is immature for her age, the fact remains, she is immature.”
“Some kids are shy and studious and easily manipulated by older kids they want to emulate.”
“Our daughter was also young in high school and college, and it was difficult to manage. The kids were basically two years older than she was, and they were mature enough to handle things she was not ready for. My stepdaughter graduated salutatorian from a small private school and got a full ride to the University of Michigan.”
“We were ecstatic! Bragged to all our friends and family about how proud we were of her. Then she informed us that the school was ‘too big and too scary’ and refused to go and turned down the scholarship without our knowledge. Her mom allowed it, and she ended up at a smaller private college because she had been sheltered and was not ready for the world.”
“As a stepmom, I only had so much power preparing her, and because she turned down a four-year free ride at one of the best colleges in the country, I refused to help pay for her college.”
“The moral of the story, no matter whose fault it is, if the kid isn’t ready, she isn’t ready. I would definitely allow her to go to college, but it would be a local college where she lived at home. I would not hold her back, but also not let her go away that young.” – Ok_Attempt3378
But others thought the OP was controlling and fostering a codependent relationship.
“Whaaaaaat did I just read?”
“Yes, YTA. You DO realize she can go to college without your permission, right?”
“She can leave before she’s 18. She can wake up and go no contact with you for holding her back.”
“She can also never amount to anything because of you holding her back.”
“Guess what. A lot of the time, the reason why a child is naive is because of their parents. It’s called being codependent. Look it up and do some major introspection.” – ARTiger20
“Hmm. How did she grow up to be so sheltered and codependent? Might it be parenting-related?” – UnbelievableTxn6969
“YTA. What difference does it make if she’s 18? Holding her back will only build resentment.”
“I understand you’re trying to protect her from making poor choices, but you had your chance as a parent to build her independence. Instead, you did nothing and allowed her to become codependent on you and your husband.”
“She should be allowed to make mistakes, and she is already making her own choices. Forcing her to stay will only continue to enable her while allowing you to continue to be controlling.” – inexpensive_damsel
“My mother-in-law’s younger brother was babied and never allowed to fail. Their parents would rush in to fix things every single time. He never learned to budget because mommy and daddy were always bailing him out financially. He blew through tens of thousands of dollars of their hard-earned money.”
“He’s now in his 60s, their parents are long dead, and my MIL is doing the same shit her parents did, rushing in to ‘save’ him.”
“The last time she went to rescue him, she ended up nearly getting killed in a car accident on the way home. Spent months in the hospital and in nursing rehabilitation because she just had to go save him from his own stupidity. He never apologized to her and never checked on her the entire time she was in the hospital.”
“Her son (my husband) put his foot down and told her bluntly to stop trying to rescue her stupid brother from his own actions.”
“He pointed out how her brother never apologized for his part in the accident, how he didn’t check on her in the hospital, that he’s selfish and only calls when he needs something, then asked her why she kept helping someone who doesn’t give a d**n about her. It finally seems to have sunk in.”
“OP is creating this same codependency with their daughter. OP is the AH.” – louisianefille
“YTA. I’m a fifty-something parent of young adults, and I was a kid like your daughter: technically too young for school but academically ready, so I started kindergarten a year before I should have.”
“I left for college at 17, with exactly zero dating experience and zero financial experience. My folks didn’t let me socialize much and my only job was working for them, so I didn’t have much in the way of street smarts.”
“Did I screw up some? Oh yes. I also learned fast and honed my judgment. I never made the same mistake twice.”
“Why do you expect her to be ready now? Like all her peers, she’s got the next year to grow, and kids do a lot of growing at that age. Your kid is bright enough to have succeeded in school despite being younger and smaller than her peers. She’s bright enough to learn some life lessons if you stay out of her way.”
“And the best time for her to learn them is right now. Let her do that social learning now, just like her classmates are doing, and she’ll be more ready to fly with the flock when the time comes. Shelter her too much, and she won’t grow in the ways she needs to. Taking away her reasons to want to grow, her hopes for her next life stage, at an age where a week is forever, will not go as you want it to.”
“And this whole thing where you make this decision behind her back and just announce it when she starts taking about her future is crappy parenting. It’s a rug pull, a violation of trust. It’s deeply alienating; don’t underestimate the lasting effects.”
“She’s not an adult yet but she’s not a baby either, and your decision is one that changes everything about her future in ways you can’t predict, but she’ll have to live with. No about her without her, at this age.”
“And how is it that being bored and stifled is okay at 17 when it wasn’t at five? It’s not healthy. It’s worse in some ways, because she’s old enough to have long-term expectations which you are shutting down.”
“I think y’all should get in front of a family therapist, stat, and not one who is just going to work on getting the kid to resign herself, but rather one who will really push you to examine your decision.” – Amiedeslivres
The subReddit understood that the OP had concerns about her daughter going off to college at an earlier age than average, but they were divided over the OP’s approach.
Some agreed that she was doing the right thing, as she likely knew her daughter best, but others felt that holding back her daughter wouldn’t teach her anything, as it seemed her dependence on her parents was likely their doing.