When your child turns 18 years of age, he or she is a bona-fide adult. This means that Mom or Dad cannot step in and make medical decisions for their newly minted adult children.
I've written about this before, but your children who are just turning 18 really need to have an Advance Health Care Directive in place. This is reinforced by Jane Bryant Quinn's latest essay on "As Kids Grow, So Do Risks" in this week's issue of Newsweek magazine.
Jane Bryant Quinn writes:
"Did you know that you lose control over your child's medical decisions when he reaches 18? He's entirely in charge. If he can't choose (say, he's in a coma), the doctors will stabilize him. After that, it all depends. ... But what if the parents are separated and disagree? ... To clear the path, your 18-year-old should put two decisions in writing. First, how he wants to be treated if he's in a permanent vegetative state or terminally ill. ... And second, who should make health-care decisions if he's unable to speak for himself ... Ideally, these documents will be drawn up by a lawyer..."
In California, only one document is needed for medical decision making: an Advance Health Care Directive.
This document allows you to nominate who should make medical decisions for you in the event you are unable to do so and you can also state your wishes for end of life decisions including life support, organ donation, authorizing an autopsy and making your choice known for disposition of your remains.
Kind of a gruesome topic to talk to your 18 year old about, but a necessary one especially if your child still wants Mom or Dad to handle his or her affairs until they get a bit older or get married.