My daughter wants to be cut off.

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Best care and nutrition,

Months ago, my 17-year-old daughter showed me a short clip of someone complaining that their parents had cut them off at 18. Since she didn’t seem to understand the author’s point, my daughter suggested I do this to her! I pointed out that she will be free to leave, decline any financial support, or even completely ignore me, although that would break my heart. She said she would never abide by that if it remained her choice, and she wanted the experience of being left to sink or swim. So I pretended to agree, thinking that such a mindset might indeed have some benefit.

With her 18e birthday approached, I asked if she had found a place to live. She said she didn’t mean to leave on the day she turned 18. I told her she had to leave a week after her birthday. We looked at each other and said nothing more. Now I’m wondering how far I should go with this. I wouldn’t really force her out of it, maybe not even push her anymore. But should I tell her right away that I was just kidding? Or should I let her believe this until the very last deadline so she can get a taste of what she wanted?

– Zinc or swim

Dear SOS,

You know your child, which means you probably have an idea if she’s ready and willing to leave your house soon, or if this is just a series of thoughts that may have gotten a little out of hand. Either way, it’s time for you to drop the game and have a real talk with your daughter about her future. Do you plan to support her through college or trade school? Do you expect her to get a job and contribute to the household if she stays? Does she know what she wants to do with her life? It sounds like maybe you all should have talked about these things a little more often. She may have gotten carried away with the way she interpreted what she was reading, but that doesn’t mean she’s prepared for an introduction to the world she’s “sink or swim” in. Time to start talking about what they is ready for and to plan for what your role in it might look like. No more games!

—Jamilah

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