Created By: Aries on September 25, 2012 Last Edited By: maxwellsilver on October 13, 2014

Self Supporting Child

A child under 18 that lives alone and without the need of the support of others.

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Most Writers Are Adults, so it is fairly common that children behave far older than the way that they should for their age. It is so common in fact, that it is an Acceptable Break from Reality that a child may be able to save the world. However, we also see that these children may have mentors or caretakers that are a reasonable age older than them, and this even includes young adults.

Some works, on the other hand, go so far as the child VERY independent for their age. These children own there own homes... while still in high school. Where they get their money, where their parents are, and how they cope living without them are usually Hand Waved if an excuse is given at all.

The child would also be mature enough to go to school on their own and cook full course meals, but at the same time we never see them pay bills.

This is mostly an anime trope, but it is still very unusual even in Japan. In the United States, one may be able to get an apartment as young as 18. This is rare because most 18 year olds have no credit history, nor do they have full time jobs.

This doesn't apply to college students nor boarding school students, where housing costs are deducted from tuition. However, even college students have trouble cooking and paying bills, and when they do live alone, it is usually in a very small one bedroom apartment.

(Description needs more work, as well as better explanation for examples. Feel free to edit this YKTTW)

Examples:

  • Orihime in Bleach is an aversion. She lived with her brother after her abusive parents caused them to leave, but after her brother died, she started living alone. This trope is averted because she has other family that helps provide for her.
  • Tobias in Animorphs, kinda. Being a human mind in a hawk's body with the ability to morph, he lives like a hawk would, eating small animals and defending his territory. However, in one case he needs to pass for human and is questioned about how he lives, and offhandedly repplies that he takes care of himself (his deadbeat aunt and uncle each thought he was staying with the other and didn't bother to find out more).
  • In Kore wa Zombie desu ka?? Ayumu Aikawa is a high school student who lived alone. After he was killed and resurrected, he eventually gained an Unwanted Harem, with each girl living in his house.
  • Nagi, Shizuku, and Soyogi in Umi no Misaki.
  • Children leave home and go on journeys as early as the age of 10 in the Pokémon anime. While they can be considered temporarily homeless, they are never shown struggling to survive, and seem to do very well for themselves. Justified because the world they live in supports this as part of their culture.
  • Played with in A Series of Unfortunate Events. The Baudelaire children are self-sufficient, but get placed with guardians who are killed or plotting to kill them for their fortune.
  • Sam Gribley of My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George, who takes up a lifestyle in the Catskills that Thoreau and Emerson themselves would be proud of. He survives the winter on the land, records his observations and details useful procedures in a journal for future living, and even hollows out a tree to serve as a home. And it's quite spacious.
  • Pippi Longstocking moves into an old house to wait for her father, who was knocked off their boat into the sea.
  • In the British newspaper strip The Perishers the boy Wellington and his dog Boot live on their own (originally in a big concrete pipe in a mysteriously abandoned builders' yard, later in a small railway station on a closed branch line) and appear to live entirely on handouts from their friends. Wellington attends school, but none of the staff ever questions his domestic circumstances.
  • In Sailor Moon, Sailor Jupiter's parents are dead, but she has no trouble living in an apartment and generally not having the financial and legal problems that a child living alone has.
Community Feedback Replies: 50
  • September 25, 2012
    jbrecken
    It's older than anime. Pippi Longstocking.

    In real life, it's what's known as an emancipated minor.
  • September 25, 2012
    SKJAM
    I take it you're not counting homeless kids who live on the street with no visible parents, since that's more likely (and depressing.)

    I remember at least one manga had a fairly realistic look at this--the kids (I think 15 and 8 or so? sisters, anyhow) had to budget the inheritance from their parents, so the minimum of food, toys maybe once a year, and picking up quick odd jobs to stay afloat.
  • September 25, 2012
    acrobox
    Orphaned children such as the titular Naruto and Sasuke don't have legal guardians or adult supervision but have their own apartments. Apparently they get funding from the Kage when their underage, but after they hit 12 and graduate they earn their own money by going on missions.
  • September 25, 2012
    ace1263
    Yuki Nagato from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya lived in an apartment alone for the entire series, justified in that she doesn't have parents and is an alien born from a collective data construct that knows all and is timeless.
  • September 25, 2012
    Aries
    @SKJAM no, I'm talking about children that do not need support or at least has no visible indication that they do. For example, the kids in Pokemon count as this trope. They generally support themselves and are not played as Perpetual Poverty. Aladdin however, is played as a poor character trying to survive, he is NOT this trope.
  • September 25, 2012
    Bisected8
    IIRC it says somewhere in the manga that Orihime was supported by extended family members (her and her brother ran away from Abusive Parents, he was 18 but he died in a car accident).
  • September 25, 2012
    saintdane05
    This might be better as children being the main supporter in general, such as Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games.
  • September 26, 2012
    Astaroth
    The film version of Matilda shows Matilda as having been able to cook for herself since a young age, since her neglectful mother would rather go to bingo than take care of her daughter.

    Edit: after re-reading the description, not sure if this qualifies, so feel free to ignore
  • September 26, 2012
    Koveras
    How is this related to Social Services Does Not Exist?
  • September 26, 2012
    Aries
    ^ It relates somewhat, but not closely. While it does mention the fact that some children run around and live on their own, it doesn't seem to focus on the children themselves, but rather how the parents are more or less neglectful.

    While that may be the case, this trope focuses on the child living and taking care of themselves without a visual need for social services. It is closer to Most Writers Are Adults and may overlap with Department Of Child Disservices. The children in this case are too adult to be realistic.
  • September 26, 2012
    Aries
    In Katniss's case, it could be this trope, but they obviously live in a crapsack world. They NEED help, and attention is constantly brought to how much they are borderline starving.

    Luffy of One Piece does the same as Katniss, being the leader of a group of pirates. But they fair very well.
  • September 26, 2012
    arromdee
    In Sailor Moon, Sailor Jupiter's parents are dead, but she has no trouble living in an apartment and generally not having the financial and legal problems that a child living alone has.
  • September 26, 2012
    WolfgangAmadeusPenis
  • September 26, 2012
    MiinU
    The Bleach example doesn't count. In the manga, Orihime tells Tatsuki that her distant aunt helps her, by sending her money from time to time.
  • September 26, 2012
    TBeholder
    @Koveras: dunno. The "child under 18" thing probably does somehow relate to stunted development, though.
  • September 26, 2012
    TheNinth
    Literature (and film) Rynn, the 13-year-old main character of The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane lives on her own. Her terminally ill father set things up so she would be able to do it.
  • September 26, 2012
    Quatic
    I would assume this trope especially covers the situation where the child is mistakenly believed by 'the system' to have a parent or guardian -- perhaps the parents have died or run off, and the kid is acting under the pretense of having them around when there is none.
  • September 26, 2012
    WolfgangAmadeusPenis
    Wow, can't believe I missed this one.
  • September 26, 2012
    LeeM
    In the British newspaper strip The Perishers the boy Wellington and his dog Boot live on their own (originally in a big concrete pipe in a mysteriously abandoned builders' yard, later in a small railway station on a closed branch line) and appear to live entirely on handouts from their friends. Wellington attends school, but none of the staff ever questions his domestic circumstances.
  • September 26, 2012
    MiinU
  • September 27, 2012
    Chabal2
    Tobias in Animorphs, kinda. Being a human mind in a hawk's body with the ability to morph, he lives like a hawk would, eating small animals and defending his territory. However, in one case he needs to pass for human and is questioned about how he lives, and offhandedly repplies that he takes care of himself (his deadbeat aunt and uncle each thought he was staying with the other and didn't bother to find out more).
  • September 27, 2012
    acidxbel
    There definitely seems to be some overlap here with Rules of Orphan Economics.
  • September 27, 2012
    AnEditor
    I suppose you don't count kids whose parents own the house, but the kids provide the money? Katniss from The Hunger Games would count in this case.
  • September 27, 2012
    Aries
    Katniss does count. Even though her mother lives there, she is practically the woman of the house. (at least in the first book, I haven't read the others)
  • September 27, 2012
    MrRuano
    Puella Magi Madoka Magica has Mami and Homura, who both live alone. Mami's parents are dead,and apparently lacks any relatives, thus leaving her alone. Homura's choice to live alone stems more from her solitary mindset.
  • September 27, 2012
    saintdane05
    The Animorphs example might not count. While he is a child under the age of 18, his "Natural" hawk form is full grown. It's only his mind that is a minor.
  • September 27, 2012
    SKJAM
    Maho Tsukai Sally: Sally, who is maybe fourteen or fifteen in human terms, uses magic to allow this. Which works fine until a teacher announces he's coming by to meet her parents.
  • September 27, 2012
    Aries
    @Saintdane05 It still counts. He is part human right? I never got into animorphs so I don't know much about it, but if it has the mind of a child and a body of a child then it is still a child, no matter what stage of development the animal form it. Its merely a huge subversion.
  • September 27, 2012
    Rognik
    I think Nanako from Persona 4 counts. Although she has her father living with her, she by and large takes care of the house by herself. She makes her own lunch, does the laundry, and other chores for a clean house. She's 7, maybe?

    Akihisa from Baka And Test Summon The Beast also counts. His parents and sister live overseas, leaving him to fend for himself in the apartment. While the older sister does later come back, he pretty much has to fend for himself in the apartment, but constantly running short on money. Somehow he seems to come out all right. Played For Laughs mostly.
  • September 27, 2012
    WarriorSparrow
    In Hey Arnold, Stoop Kid has managed to sustain himself while living on the same doorstep for years.
  • September 27, 2012
    Tallens
    In Ranma One Half, Ukyo Kuonji is a 16-year-old girl who has left home, lives by herself, and even runs her own business, all while she's still in high-school.
  • September 28, 2012
    MiinU
  • September 28, 2012
    Chabal2
    @ saintdane05: Yes, but the one time the "underage teen living on his own" comes up, he's in his human body.

  • December 7, 2012
    jokergirl
    Does Suguru in Mahoromatic count? His parents are dead, though.
  • December 7, 2012
    triassicranger
    Anime

    Sunao in Potemayo. His dad is often abroad and his mom is dead, so Sunao had to look after himself ever since he was little.
  • December 7, 2012
    stargirl93
    Maron from Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne.

    Maron's parents divorced when she was very young, and then they both moved overseas.

  • December 7, 2012
    shimaspawn
    <Mod Hat>

    Zero Context Examples are not allowed and must be removed or fleshed out before page launch. This includes Pippi Longstocking and Umi No Misaki.
  • December 7, 2012
    MorningStar1337
    Marona of Phantom Brave counts (sorta) On the one hand her parents are dead, on the other She has a ghost named Ash looking out for her. back on the first hand she does have a job of sorts. Carona of the Another Marona story in the remakes plays it straight.
  • December 8, 2012
    JoeG
    I've seen a few stories where children's parents are dead or missing and the children go to enormous lengths to hide this fact from the authorities and take care of themselves. Is this an example of this trope or a different one?
  • December 8, 2012
    Waterlily
    The interesting thing about this trope is how differently it can be portrayed. It's a common theme in children's escapist literature (1001 Children Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up points this out) but, portrayed realistically, it can be a very depressing situation.
  • December 8, 2012
    justanotherrandomlurker
    For the first three seasons of Alvin And The Chipmunks, The Chipettes lived by themselves, in a very ellaborate tree house, complete with furniture, electricity, and utilities; they still went to school, and engaged in activities typical of other kids their age. That changed, however, at the beginning of the fourth season, when school officials find out about their situation, and threaten to put them in foster care, until Miss Miller adopts them.
  • December 17, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In an episode of The Simpsons Bart gets himself legally emancipated and rents himself a loft (with Tony Hawk as his upstairs neighbor).
  • December 17, 2012
    remande
    Every witch in Kikis Delivery Service spends a year on her own at age thirteen, possibly like a shortened version of the Poke Mon quest.
  • October 12, 2014
    Pichu-kun
    • Satoko and Rika from Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni are roughly eight to twelve but live alone together. Both their parents died, they live in a small town, and the child services isn't that good so they probably don't care. In two arcs Satoko's uncle comes around to take care of her but nothing good comes from it.
    • 16 year old Hinako from Bitter Virgin lives alone but has relatives nearby.
    • Tails from Sonic The Hedgehog apparently lives alone. Some adaptations have him living with Sonic (who is only 15 himself) or have an excuse of him being far from his family.
  • October 12, 2014
    justanotherrandomlurker
    Someone probably needs to grab this, as there's many examples that have been posted (from two years ago) that haven't been added to the original post.
  • October 12, 2014
    MiinU
    We already have this, see: Minor Living Alone.
  • October 13, 2014
    SeptimusHeap
    That trope is about living alone. That is possible while still being supported by parents or legal guardians. This trope is when one is completely self-supported.
  • October 13, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ no, the trope's description specifies that Parental Abandonment must be in play.
  • October 13, 2014
    MiinU
    ^^@SeptimusHeap - Reread the trope description for Minor Living Alone: it flat-out specifies that the minor is supporting themselves, which is evident by the examples on the page. Since Tropes Are Flexible, it allows for exceptions where they occasionally receive help from a family member — so long as they are still mostly self-sufficient.

    So, yes, we already have this.
  • October 13, 2014
    SeptimusHeap
    Both these statements are qualified with "sometimes" or "most common reason" - not enough to make such an argument. The examples point is fair, though.
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