Do you have a college freshman? A new 18 year old? Get ready for things to change in more ways than one. Your parental rights are about to change or actually be gone!
Did you know that you have will have no rights to their school information like grades, financial aid etc?
Did you know that once your kiddo is turns 18, you will not be able to even make them a doctor’s appointment or call with an insurance question about your own child?!!! Whaaaaaaat?
What happens when your teen turns 18? I’m here to help…
What do I mean by, “Your rights are basically gone?”
I found this out the hard way when I called to doctor to find out some info about one of my boys’ doctor appointments. They wouldn’t tell me anything! Keep in mind that this was our pediatrician, who I had known since the morning my oldest was born almost 25 years ago…
In addition to all of the dorm room supplies and school supplies and other miscellaneous stuff, you need to be aware of some really important terms: FERPA, HIPAA, and Selective Service to name a few.
[Here is a great list of books for your young adult to read as they begin their early adult years.]
Once your child enters college, and especially after they turn 18, your parental rights will drastically change, as in disappear. Read on to find out what these terms mean, and how you can be prepared for the transition of your teenager to adulthood. *This post may contain affiliate links. My full disclosure policy is here.
There are lots more tips below the video as well as great gift ideas for 18 year olds!?
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What you need to know when your teen is turning 18
What does FERPA mean for an 18 year old?
FERPA stands for Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. So, let’s say that you suspect that your child has been skipping classes, or you want to make sure that your child didn’t drop a class and scoop up that money. You cannot find out from the college unless the FERPA has been signed!
FERPA is the law that protects student educational records. It includes protections for … a child’s education records, such as, report cards, transcripts, disciplinary records, contact and family information, and class schedules. Find out what FERPA compliance means, and how you and your teen can work together with this law.
This means that at the age of 18, all rights that you have had as a parent regarding these types of information transfer to your student.
There are exceptions when a school may, but IS NOT REQUIRED to-share this information about the student’s educational records. The exceptions include situations where the student’s health or safety may be at risk, instances of drugs or alcohol if the student is under the age of 21 and/or if the student is claimed as a dependent for tax purposes.
The point being, that unless your student signs the FERPA when registering for classes or at student orientation or at any time, then you may or MAY NOT be able to see your child’s grades, see their financial records at the school or be able to help make decisions regarding their health should a situation occur on campus.
It is a simple form that carries significant weight.
The truth is that your child will not necessarily know what this is!
Unless you basically make your teen sign the FERPA, then you will be out of luck when trying to communicate with the school if you want any real answers. Look for this when your child is uploading all of their info to their college once they are accepted.
HIPAA for an 18 year old
Here’s another example of parental loss of power… Your child has gone to the health clinic at their college. You call the clinic to find out more information from them about the diagnosis because your child cannot tell you much since they didn’t really listen. No can do. Unless your child has signed the HIPAA and put your name on it!
HIPAA is another governmental term. The Health Information and Portability Accountability Act comes into action when your teen turns 18. Up until this point, you as the parent have signed the HIPAA form at all doctors visits. This includes dental, vision, and insurance information as well as primary care.
Your 18 year old will need to sign this form and list any adults who may be given information regarding their health. If you are not on that list, then you will not be privy to any of that information. (A really good description for an 18 year old to read about what the HIPAA means is here.)
Another option to consider is a durable power of attorney.
This would need to be signed by your teen once they are 18. This would be a really good thing to have in place if for some reason your child were to become incapacitated in some way. It is recommended that you get a power of attorney for the state that your teen goes to college in, as well as the state of permanent residence. Here is more info about each state’s requirements.
Grab both the health and financial power of attorney legal documents. We used them and printed these out for our two oldest boys while they were in college. It took less than 15 minutes to fill in the blanks, and print out!
I have heard horror stories about parents not being able to make medical decisions for their kids because this was not in place, so please do this for your peace of mind. *The cost of these forms is so much less than going to an attorney, which I checked into before doing this. And, talk about EASY!
One more tip that I would like to share, and you will laugh because it’s so easy… Have your teen memorize their social security number! This will come in handy in so many situations, especially medical ones!
Does my 18 year old have to register for selective service?
Once your son turns 18, he needs to register with the Selective Service. He will have 30 days to do so. It is a federal offense not to register. He will be unable to get a driver’s license or apply for student loans or grants. There is a hefty fine of $250,000 and up to 5 years in prison for not signing up.
Conscientious objectors and disabled persons need to register as well. If the draft ever comes back, those individuals can can register their objections or disabilities then.
At this point in time, girls do not have to sign up for this.
What are legal things to do at 18?
Turning 18 has many implications.
Is 18 years old still a child? In most states, turning 18 means being an adult-age of majority. Some things to consider about turning 18 responsibilities…
As an adult, a person can buy property, vote, or even get married in most states. Jury duty is now a possibility as well.
As an adult, a person can now be put in prison if convicted of a crime, can legally gamble, and can now be sued. Not all fun and games for the teenager to adulthood transition!
Does my 18 year old need to get their own insurance?
A tool that young adults may want to take advantage of is life insurance. It all depends on circumstances. Some young people may be facing financial hardships or want to utilize life insurance as an investment tool. Here is a quick link to a guide explaining more about this.
One more thing that your 18 year old needs to consider. Sex. If your son or daughter is dating someone younger than them, which many of them are, then they can be charged with, and be prosecuted with statutory rape. This varies from state to state, and the description of what that means also varies from state to state.
Also, sexting as an adult is a crime. It is distribution of pornography. Please make them aware of this! Here is a post with more info about sexting.
How do I teach my teen about finances?
Are you wondering what you should be teaching your teen about money? Saving? Investing? This knowledge is so important for our kids as they leave for college and/or beyond. I so wish that I had known all of this when I was their age!
I have found this awesome resource. There is also this one. Both of these are full of much great information! If there is one way that we can give our kids a head start financially, these conversations and tools are a great approach. Help your teen know everything that they can about finances -this will give them so much power for their future!
This is a lot!
All of this info is so important! Be sure that you and your teen have discussions about all of this over time. Turning 18 means a lot of new things. These are big topics, so don’t try to discuss it all at once.
Your role as a parent will definitely change, and that’s a good thing! Just know that as you lose your parental rights, they are gaining their rights as adults, and that’s a good thing too!
I feel your pain, but hope that this information helps you along this crazy journey as our kids become adults!
Let me know if you have any other questions about your teen turning 18, I am always searching for new topics to write about!
*Please contact an attorney for legal advice. I am not qualified to do that!
18th birthday gifts!
Is your teen away from you on their birthday? Send them a Sugarwish! This is a great company that I have developed a relationship with, and they are the bomb! You choose candy, cookies, popcorn, snacks, cotton candy or dog treats and then a gift size for your recipient. Or, you can send them a credit (in an email or text) for them to choose what they would like. Finally, Sugarwish will create a beautiful custom box just for them and include a gift card for the occasion. This is so easy! I have already sent 3 in the last month.?
And, here is a cute 18th birthday wish bracelet.
Books your 18 year old should read
Almost Adulting -Great book!
How to Adult: Personal Finance for the Real World
A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative
Here’s an entire post of great books for navigating the next few years as a young adult!
15+ Best Gift Guides for Teens
29 Ways to Prepare for College
What Will My Freshman Really Need in the Dorm?
Ways to Help Support Your Teen Get Ready For Finals
Ways to Keep Your Child Safe at College
27 Books for a Young Adult to Read For Success
If you have a younger teen, check out my Parent Toolkit for Surviving High School
Best Year Round Posts for Parenting Teens and Tweens: 50+ Titles!
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When my son turned 18 (some years ago, now) – learning all this you mention was a shock. I didn’t know of the existence of the FERPA form, either (and apparently, no one was about to tell my husband or myself) but it appears to have been around for many years. As they say, knowledge is power, because your teen does need to be prepared for his or her role as an adult – and it is the parent’s responsibility to educate them.
I know right? As each thing happened to us, I kept thinking, “Why did no one tell me all of this?!” Hence, this blog post, so that hopefully a few people can read this before or as this is happening. It has gone so much more smoothly with my second 18 year old. Knowledge is power, so hopefully this will help others.
This is SUCH valuable information for those of us with college-bound and current college students. Thank you!
You are welcome. This came about because all of these things were learned the hard way through all of our older kids.
At least knowing it this time with our freshman, who just turned 18, made things a lot easier!
We have been there when our college son had an emergency appendectomy 6 hours away from us. We had to have him sign a form so we could talk to the insurance company on his behalf to straighten out all of the billing. It is a whole new world when they are over 18 and are an “adult” in the eyes of institutions and the law, but still need your help navigating it all. I wrote a post about it: https://www.almostemptynest.net/college-student-medical-emergency/ if you would like to read about our experience.
Wow! I’ve heard of this happening, so I will definitely read your post. Thanks for sharing!
Our kiddos are all grown up now, but I remember being surprised to learn all of this when our first went to college. This is good information you’re providing for people who might be unaware.
Us too! We would love for you to share this with your friends who have teens!
I’m so glad you wrote this. So many people have no idea. You can pay college tuition and not have a right to see their grades????
I know right?!!! It was such a shock to us every time one of these happened with our first son. Hoping to help others with this info:)
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Thank you! We love that people are starting to find our blog!
Excellent post. I did a smilier research project for a blog about four years ago. It’s tedious. This provides great information in an easy to read form. Thanks.
“All the things” can be overwhelming! Thank you for your kind words.
so important- my 20 year old had a panic attack and when we called the doctor at 2am this came up – fortunately she is also a family friend and my kid was consenting- need to get some papers in order before they go back to campus!
Yes! I am so glad that worked out for your family. It’s amazing what you don’t know that you don’t know.
I have all my college stuff figured out in a different state than him. I am about to turn 18 and my plan was to leave my father and go off to college with my friend and plan our future together but he is making me stay with him. I purchased my own plane ticket and I was provided a place to stay while I am in college. I need some help because my father is not letting me leave him even though I am 18
Please check your email.
Do you have any advice for parents whose son will turn 18 the spring of his junior year?
Be sure that he knows the subjects that I discuss in the post. He will have advantages as an 18 year old, but also more responsibility. I think as long as our kids know their rights and what our expectations are, it makes it easier as they head into their adult years.
My daughter will be turning 12 soon and of course acts like she’s 18. Wow, it’s something that’s not even on my radar yet certainly should be, so thank you.
It will happen so quickly! You might check out this post for middle schooler success – https://parentinghighschoolers.com/middle-school-success/
Good luck with your soon-to-be teen!
Excellent post and so helpful! My first born turns 18 tomorrow, he’s still a senior in high school, and he certainly isn’t ready to be an ‘adult’! Glad to have these steps to take to make sure we are there to help him out if he needs us.
Isn’t it true?! Society has somehow decided that 18 is a magic number. I am glad that you found it all helpful Let me know if you have more questions because I am always looking for more topics to write about!
How do you not know this? Everyone knows an 18 year old is legally an adult.
Of coarse, if they are staying at your house with free rent, you still have quite a say in their life as their new land lord.
It is a bit weird to have a kid in high school who is 18. As far as college, if you are their chief investor in their education, you can always demand seeing their transcript before cutting any checks for living expenses. Even Warren Buffet has to produce results to get paid.
A lot of people are surprised by all the legalities of their teen turning 18, even though they know that it means that the child has now become an adult. This is my most popular post because parents want to know what they DON’T know. Many kids are still in high school when they turn 18, it’s about 50/50. And, you are correct that the child should produce the grades to the parents, but there are other legal implications in the FERPA as well. Thank you for your comments.
Our sons are now 29 and 25, but I do remember dealing with the HIPPA laws while Malik was in college.
As usual, I pinned it to my parenting board. !
Thank you for the link to the HIPPA explanation! That medical practice did a great job. All offices should follow suit. Definitely will have my son take a look as we talk about this next stage of life.
Thank God no drastic or bad things happened to me as a young adult, so my parents didn’t hit any legal roadblocks. We had no idea how becoming an adult affects a parent’s ability to assist their child at crucial times.
Thanks again for this information God bless you.
You are welcome. I think that our young adults deserve to know why they are doing what we ask them to do!