Can a daughter at 18 go to college without her parent’s permission?


Would it be a sin to move out at 18 despite your father telling you that you will leave only when he approves? I know a father who will not allow his daughter to leave home until she is married. However, she is mainly confined to her house when she is not at school because he does not allow her to drive or go outdoors by herself. I do not see how she will ever meet anyone under these conditions. Her sister who graduated high school still lives like this. I understand that the father grew up without his parents as an orphan so he probably wants to hold on tightly to all his children and his wife, but I think that the children also deserve the freedom to make major decisions for their lives as well. The daughter who is not yet 18 wants to go to college and live on campus, but her father tells her that she will attend college when he is ready and he will not allow her to live on campus even when he does allow her to go. He has made his wife and children dependent on him for transportation by not allowing anyone else in the family but himself to drive. I know that many times in the Bible people in certain situations are encouraged to endure the hardship and trust fully in God to deliver them from the adversity. She sometimes feels this is what she must do in order to avoid disobeying her dad, but she is not fully certain.

The father is not a horrible person by any means and he has made mistakes in his past just like everyone, so please do not get that idea. He has instilled a fear of God and many good values in his family. It's just that his desire to keep everyone so close to him and to regulate their lives irritates them. One daughter is seriously considering leaving and staying with a friend after she graduates high school. She wants to apply to a college now before the deadlines pass, but would not this be rebellion in the eyes of God? Her father tells her simply that she is to always obey him despite her age, whether she is 17 or 70. To me, something about that statement does not sound godly. Aren't children supposed to be able to branch off from their parents without feeling like they are sinning or betraying the family? Shouldn't their parents be helping them to be more independent? I would tell her to talk to her church pastor, but her family does not attend church. Her father advises everyone to read the Scriptures themselves and come to him when they have questions.

Please give me Scriptural advice and knowledge that can help her know whether to try to leave or not.


No father has authority over his grown children beyond the respect he earns as they are growing up. There comes a time in every child's life that it is time to leave home. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24).

The confusion is coming from a misunderstanding of Ephesians 6:1-3, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother," which is the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth." The obedience a child (and the word here is for someone who is not yet an adult) owes his parent is limited to the directions a parent gives that are in accordance with the Lord's teachings. Since there is no command for parents to keep their children home past childhood, it cannot be enforced. As a child or an adult, we owe our parents honor. That means we give them respect, we take care of them in their old age, we listen to their advice (though ultimately the choices are our own to make), etc. God is not telling parents that they can be dictators over their adult children's lives. This command wasn't even directed to the parents -- it is saying what the children are to give to their parents.

Secularly, no parent has any authority after a child reaches majority anyway. A father cannot prevent an adult from doing as they see fit. The most a parent can do is determine whether the now-adult child can remain home and whether they will continue to support them financially.

So, no, planning for the future is not rebelling against God; it is taking on the responsibility that a person has. Yes, a parent's job is to train their children to be able to live like righteous people, which includes, "If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat" (II Thessalonians 3:10). And, yes, despite your insistence that he is a "good" man, he is claiming authority that he does not have, which is a form of sin. He is also violating God's command that Christians are to be a part of a local church (Hebrews 10:25). Therefore, he is demonstrating that he is not following God in truth.

Now in practical matters, a child who is read to be responsible has to be prepared to live on their own. Plans will need to be made on how to support herself without her parent's help. Perhaps they will help, which will be nice, but since there is no requirement to help, it should not be counted upon. If she wants to go to college, which is a good idea, she needs a job to pay for it and a place to live. She might have to put her education on hold for a while until she can earn enough money to support herself and save enough to finance her education.


Thanks for clearing up some of the confusion. I'll try to explain this to her so she will not keep wavering between what to do. Would you recommend that she try explaining to her father why it is not sinful to leave before she goes? He's going to be really mad at her for leaving, but I think that maybe if she can get him to see that she is not going against God's Word, he might take things more easily.


She won't be successful in convincing her father because he will always look at it as a "rebellious" daughter wanting to justify herself. The only one who might have success is a preacher or another person this father sees as having some authority.

The man is basing his actions on a personal misunderstanding of the Scriptures. He will see any contradiction to his beliefs as a rebellion against him, which he would feel is righteous because it is contrary to how he reads the Scriptures.

One idea is to write down her reasons in a letter. It will help her organize her thoughts and it won't be seen as a direct rejection. Given that he is likely to be mad, I would say that it is best to send the letter after she leaves so he has a chance to cool down.

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