Thursday, December 1, 2011

Should We Push for Early Emancipation?

These days, it seems that all we hear from Danielle are two things: 1) the myriad ways in which her birth family was superior to ours; and 2) how she can't wait until she turns 18 and is able to move out.


She rarely stops talking about it, even though my wife and I are completely tired of hearing about it.

I've been asking myself a lot lately if we should just start pushing for her to do the things she needs to do to emancipate early. If she really wants to get out of here so desperately, maybe we should start guiding her in the direction that might allow her to leave the house early.

Now I have to say, it's a pretty tough sell in our county.  The local court system doesn't like to emancipate minors early.  Even kids who are in foster care, who have graduated high school early or passed the GED, and have a job and a place to live lined up find it a very tough sell.  Only the best and the brightest are usually granted emancipated minor status, and even those "lucky" few are rarely approved much before they are 17 1/2.

But I've wondered, given Danielle's continual harping, if we'd all be better off if we started to guide her out the door.  In many ways, it doesn't feel like the right answer because we'd have to act as if we are pushing her away.  I know that won't improve her difficult attachments to us.

Now the truth is, no judge in his right mind would ever grant Danielle emancipated minor status based on her current emotional, educational, and behavioral development.  It's pretty clear to everyone (including us) that she won't be ready to launch early, and it wouldn't be in her best interest.

Still, it it is what Danielle really wants, so maybe we ought to dangle the carrot anyway.

If she was made to think that she has the opportunity to leave early, she might knuckle down and do the necessary work.  She might start pushing herself when it comes it academics, and it might motivate her to get a job, start saving money, and do all the things she would need to do to be successful.

Or, she might follow her regular pattern, which is to get very excited about an idea, but not actually complete any of the steps to achieve that goal.

Still, if it really is what she truly wants, maybe we ought to give it to her.

Of course the real answer to this is that it depends on Danielle.  If she wants to emancipate early, the onus is on her to prove to a judge that she's capable.  She would need to pass her GED, get a job, and have the means to obtain housing.  If she could do those things, then she might be on her way.

Even though the chances of Danielle being able to convince a judge she's ready to move out are basically nil, I wonder if dangling that carrot might put an end to the constant complaining. If we can reply, "You will be able to move out just as soon as you do x, y and z," maybe it would motivate her to work towards that goal.

And then again, maybe not.


  1. I can't remember if we've talked about this before.. have you looked at Job Corps? I think they can do that at 16.

  2. My daughter started harping about wanting to be emancipated in Jan. of this year - 3 mos. before she turned 18. Yeah, real bright idea. She was in no way ready to be on her own in any capacity yet to her it sounded wonderful. She wasn't ready 3 mos. later when she turned 18 in April but she wasn't going to let that stop her!

    What I personally think you should do is agree with Danielle that it would be a wonderful idea and that you would be so happy to see her independent and self-sufficient. Sit down and have her make a list of realistic things she would need to do to reach her goal. Then walk away from the whole situation. It will be 100% on her to achieve every single item on her list to convince the judge she is ready. She may step up and surprise you or she may lose interest and just go on like nothing was said - either way it is on HER. I think I tried to "help" my daughter too much. At first I spent entirely too much time explaining everything to her and giving her the pros and cons of every scheme she thought up, but it got real old. I was doing all the work and she was losing interest and wandering off - not finishing anything and then begging for another chance to try something else. Then, at the end (last 6-12 mos she lived here) I would just simply ask her, "How are you going to accomplish that?" and wait for her to come to her own conclusions - which she did, they were nutty and didn't work or she again lost interest. I simply could not keep investing all of my time and energy into crazy ideas that weren't going to happen. At one point she wanted us to let her sleep in the shed and walk to and from a job (that she didn't even have) on the weekends when we were out of town so that she would have more "availability" to list on her application. This was in the middle of a MI winter. Wasn't gonna happen. So, I guess we put our foot down in some instances, but generally stayed out of her plans and schemes. She was all talk.


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