Can I prevent my recently-diagnosed daughter from moving out with boyfriend?

Okay, I realize the subject line probably makes me sound like an obsessively controlling parent as my daughter is 18 and should be able to make her own decisions. Here's the backstory. We always knew that my daughter had behavioral challenges but like many others, we assumed we were dealing with a challenging teen during the worst pandemic in a century. She was diagnosed in November, near her 18th birthday and for better or worse, about the same time she met her first boyfriend. He's 20 and generally nice and polite, but very needy with a troubled past. We even took him in for a month while he tried to find a place to live.

Fast forward 4 months, and my daughter drops a bomb on my wife and I, telling us she wants to move out with her boyfriend or his friend's girlfriend to have much-needed independence and get out of the house. This is 2 months before graduation from high school! She's also wants to delay her college entry and study abroad program we've been researching for her. We have been devastated. Sadly, we've still figuring out the ASD parenting approach and obviously we spent too much time with the education and school side and not enough time focusing on the behavioral side.

We have persuaded her to hold off until after graduation as we scramble to get into counseling for the 3 of us and revisit the anti-depressant medication she was previously on (but stopped). I'm talking to her boyfriend this weekend, making the case that we should all keep my daughter on track for college or life experiences rather than stay home and rent nearby (which makes us so sad).

This feels like a 14 year old daughter (in maturity) going off the deep end and potentially being taken advantage of by this 20 year old boyfriend! I will take any and all advice from this group on what my options are.


  • Tom, 

    You sound like a worried parent who is hoping that your daughter will live the life that you have planned out for her.  I think almost every parent wishes that - regardless of ASD - but, few get it.  Ultimately, your daughter will have to live her life as SHE sees fit.  She will have set-backs and hopefully will learn from them.  Counseling is good.  Hopefully, you all can sit down and discuss the consequences of each proposed pathway.  Maybe, she will agree to follow some, if  not all, of your suggestions. The only other option is to obtain a guardianship of her - which, even if you can get it, will ruin any chance for a reasonably good relationship between you.  To answer your question directly - No, you cannot.

  • Thanks for the reply. I think I'd feel a little better about these plans of her if they didn't coincide with her erratic behavior, shutdowns, and lies. The timing feels very wrong. And of course, there's the risk of ever going back to school.

    Aside from this, what is the best way to communicate with an aspergers/ASD teen on the edge? Thoughts on the 3 of us going in for counseling with an ASD specialist? We haven't found one yet, only conventional parent/teen counseling.

  • All parent of all 18 yo children worry.  How many 18 yo humans don't make loads of mistakes with repercussions? none that i know of.  if you don't let her fail or succeed on her own she cannot grow.  Her mistakes will have bigger consequences as she gets older.  

    You might ask her to think about all these options she wants. Then put down the pros and cons.  

    Remember She can go to school at any time in her life. 

    She may be preyed on by the boy but most people find someone at their own maturity level.  I suspect you may have lucked into a good one.  Not perfect. Such a thing doesn't exist in humans, 

    I'd look at those last couple of months of school as the priority.  Ask her what it would take to do that prior to moving out.  That is just my opinion.  

    If she moves out she will be back. That is a near certainty.  She will learn that she doesn't like everything to do with living independently.  

    All kids want to be independent and none of them has a clue as to what that means. Trust that you have instilled in her values and wisdom.  Trust she will return to that.   

    Giving birth and letting go are HARD. Not being the same sort of dad you have been is your growth.  We have to grow up too. 

    With much affection and support,