European Man Questions Why American Parents Kick Their Kids Out At 18 & The Answers Are Sadder Than We Expected

Americans are taught that leaving home at 18 is a normal rite of passage, but really, it's not.

a group of boys standing on a basketball court Patricia Beliga / Pexels

A major swath of American cultural expectations are rooted in rugged individualism, a phrase from Herbert Hoover’s 1928 presidential speech, given a year before the Great Depression began.

While the mythical ethos of the self-made individual glosses over the way generational wealth works, there are still many parts of U.S. society holding tight to the idea that all men are islands.

A European man questioned why American parents kick their kids out when they turn 18.

The 29-year-old man wrote to the subreddit r/NoStupidQuestions to ask simply, “Why do Americans kick their kids out at 18?”


He explained that he lived with his parents until he was 27, so he could save up for a house of his own. Given that his family is from Europe, his decision to live at home wasn’t seen as strange or viewed by outsiders as some failure-to-launch storyline.

Living at home allowed him to funnel his resources towards buying a house, and as he stated, “I saved 20% and am forever grateful to my parents.”

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The man is fully aware of how unique his experience was, noting, “I have friends who were kicked out at 18 and they are still renting, or just recently bought a house with 3% down and high-interest rate. It feels like their parents stopped caring about helping when they turned 18. This is still causing a lot of them to struggle.”


european wonders why american parents kick their kids out once they turn 18Photo: Sir Lodi / Pexels

He asked his friends for cultural context, wondering why their parents made them leave the family home after turning 18 and reported being told, “‘It’s what their parents did to them,’ [which] doesn’t really help me make sense of it.”

The answers people shared about why their parents kicked them out at 18 were a lot sadder than anyone could have expected.

One person said, “I got home from my high school graduation and my mother told me she was changing the locks in a week. Her justification was that I was 18 and educated, and her job was done. This was in the U.S., 1970s.”


“Same thing here, but in the 2010s,” noted someone else. “I felt very much like an obligation. It didn’t bother me so much at the time, I wasn’t blindsided by it and it was just the ‘way things were.’”

Yet in hindsight, they realized how distressing their situation really was. They explained that becoming a parent shifted their viewpoint, and they realized that what had been framed as normal was, in fact, not normal at all.

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“I’m sure I have lots more to learn about raising children, but I can’t imagine ever viewing him as an obligation,” they said. “I don’t expect to be, or want to be, ‘off the hook’ the second he turns 18. It’s just not how I view parenthood. I expect him to grow and mature, but I will always be here for him.”

european wonders why american parents kick their kids out once they turn 18Photo: J Godwin Torres / Pexels

Another parent echoed that sentiment, saying, “My kids will have no such rule. You stay until you're ready, whenever that happens to be. If the day never comes, then at least my wife and I will have company into our retirement.”


However, not all parents are that nurturing or open. One person somberly shared a truly harsh aspect of many people's reality, saying, "Plenty of LGBTQ kids get kicked out before they are 18."

Someone else referenced the overarching mindset behind leaving home at 18, emphasizing that parents pass down the idea to their children that doing so “builds character, this is how the world works, I won’t coddle you.”

From an outside perspective, it’s easy to see how our American mindset comes off as being cruel for cruelty’s sake. Being told to leave home at 18 upholds an idea that normalizes suffering, instead of breaking generational curses of inequality and economic instability holding them back from their birthright: Thriving.


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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers social issues, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.