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“My Parents Control My Life”

I’m a 22 year old full time student and full time worker. I work hard to pay my way through school and also manage to sustain my self. I live at home though, given that my very conservative Christian parents expect me to live with them until I get married. I’ve been dating my boyfriend for a year and half now and he recently told me that he wants to go to Las Vegas for his birthday with our group of friends and of course take me along. I’ve never asked to go on a trip with a boy before and the minute I asked I got a definite no. I asked why and both my mom and my dad said it “would look wrong” and were pretty mad that I even asked. They also questioned me about whether I’m having sex with him or not. My boyfriend decided to go ask them himself yesterday (he also had to ask permission to date me) and my dad said no to him too. I really want to go and don’t see how that’s going to happen. I’m a hard worker, a great student, a pay for everything, but for the simple fact that I live under their roof I have to abide by this. Please help. — Not a Little Girl Anymore


I am constantly stunned by the amount of letters I receive from people in their early 20s who are still living their lives by their parents’ rules. Is it a generational thing? A cultural thing? An economical thing? Are young people afraid of growing up these days? Are people afraid of making their own decisions and having no one else to blame if things go wrong? Are we, as a society, so disconnected from each other that we live in constant fear of upsetting the few people — like our parents — that we can count on to always be there for us? I don’t know. But one thing I do know, NALGA, is that at 22, you’re old enough to make decisions for yourself and deal with whatever consequences may stem from those decisions. And that includes the decision to disobey your parents.

But before you disobey them, you should probably move out of their home. After all, if you live under their roof — even if you are contributing to the rent and bills — they do have some right to set the rules. But if you live in your own place, YOU set your own rules. YOU decide whether and with whom to go on vacation. And you know what’s even better than that? Marriage will no longer serve as the ticket out of your parents’ house, which means that if and when you ever decide to get married, you’ll be more likely to do so for the right reasons and not just because you can no longer stand being stifled and controlled by mom and dad. Why, you might even get married because YOU’RE READY TO. What a novel concept.

And, look, I’m not so naive to think that your moving out of your parents home won’t cause a major rift with them. It probably will. But you’re their daughter and I’m sure they love you and if they want you in their lives, they’ll get over it. What is a worse fate: dealing with your parents’ hurt feelings, or living under their control and being indefinitely forbidden to live the adult life you deserve to live? If it’s the latter, you know what you need to do. And the sooner you move out, my dear, and show your parents you’re a grown woman with a mind of her own and the capability of making decisions for herself, the better. Nothing’s going to change until you decide it’s time.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

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avatar emjay March 24, 2011, 9:11 am

All I have to say is I moved out at 19 because I couldn’t deal with my parents overbaring rules and now I’m 26, and my parents and I have a much much better relationship now.

avatar thyme March 24, 2011, 6:35 pm

Oh my GOD, meeeee too.

I couldn’t STAND my condescending and argumentative dad when I was in high school, but I went to college far away and never moved back home. Now, when I visit him a few times a year, he makes every effort to be pleasant because now, if I don’t like his attitude, I can leave! Our relationship is much, MUCH better now that he knows I am not a captive audience.

avatar Desiree March 24, 2011, 9:14 am

I do understand Wendy’s perspective, but for the LW, it could be incredibly challenging. My parents are quite similar to hers (though my mother is blessedly more liberal). I am 23, graduating from college this spring. And I have been through all of this with my father. Because, as for the LW’s parents, it is a religious thing for him, he really doesn’t see any healthy boundaries of control. Since he considers it a matter of “salvation or damnation,” anything goes. He also has the perspective that I am under “his protection” until I get married. Last year I threw down the gauntlet and went on a vacation to California with my boyfriend (admittedly lying about the fact that we shared a hotel room). My dad went a bit crazy about the whole thing, but ultimately survived. I do have the benefit of my mother’s support, though, something the LW lacks. But here’s the question I asked myself: when will the attempted control stop if I don’t end it myself? When I’m 25? 30? Married? Have kids? Life is too short to live it by someone else’s rules. I hope the LW has the courage to make her own way.

avatar EC was here March 24, 2011, 9:29 am

I have very similar parents to the LW. I did live with them until I got married at 22. I had a curfew and on more than one occasion lost my car when I was even 20. I wish I could go back and change several things about that time. I was attending college, working and didn’t have the money to move out on my own, even with friends or my now husband.
If the LW can afford to rent a studio apartment, or have an apartment with room mates, I would highly recommend it. It took a few years to repair my relationship with my parents, but there are things I still feel I have to hide from them because I don’t follow their beliefs and on more than one occasion I’ve gotten the “I’ll pray for you” speech.

avatar _jsw_ March 24, 2011, 9:54 am

I still get the “pray for you” speech. I decided that I’d rather have my parents feel they needed to pray for me than to live my life in a way they felt they wouldn’t need to do so.

However, my parents are devout but mainstream Catholics, so their “religious conservatism” pales compared to many conservatives.

avatar EC was here March 24, 2011, 11:25 am

I’m glad I’m not the only one who knows what that speech is and what it entails. I have developed the same approach. It seems the older my mother gets, the more she finds to pray for me about.
My parents are Republican, devout Christians (mostly conservative Wesleyan beliefs) who believe if the church doors are open, they need to be there. I was forced to attend church with them every Sunday, Wednesday and revival service available. When I was about 19, I was TIRED of the fakeness and politics that attending church involves. I started attending another “church”…ie, I’d leave the house before them and go to my bf’s house. I think they knew, but they wanted to pretend right along with me. My Dad is the more liberal one of my two parents. He isn’t as judgmental about my life, he’s just happy to spend time with me.

avatar AKchic March 24, 2011, 1:56 pm

Awww… My grandma, uncle and his wife all give me the “I’ll pray for you” speech, followed by the “You’re going to hell if you don’t repent and change your ways” speech. Sometimes, they give me the “holy trinity” and throw in the “you need to start bringing your kids to church so they won’t go to hell with you” speech.

So far, I’ve managed to get banned from Christmas and Easter family get togethers. I’m working on Thanksgiving.

avatar maynard March 24, 2011, 9:44 am

“I am constantly stunned by the amount of letters I receive from people in their early 20s who are still living their lives by their parents’ rules. ”

Me too! You’re a grown up, you say you support yourself. Move out and do whatever the fuck you want!

avatar TheOtherMe March 24, 2011, 10:10 am

I just had to thumb you up for the use of the F word !

avatar Tzenism March 24, 2011, 12:09 pm

Me too!!!! =) The ” F ” word kinda drives the point home=)

avatar maynard March 24, 2011, 12:50 pm

I like how you guys say “the F word” and not fuck! hahah

avatar _jsw_ March 24, 2011, 1:24 pm

I think it’s presumptuous to assume they don’t fuck.

avatar justpeachy March 24, 2011, 4:25 pm

I have to disagree with this just for the pure reason that although she “supports” herself, she is a full time student and college has become RIDICULOUSLY expensive over the last few years. Since she still lives at home, I’m betting the car she drives belongs to her parents, she’s probably still on her parent’s health insurance, and most importantly, probably not paying rent. For many, many people, it’s just not feasible to move out of your parent’s house without sacrificing your education by working more hours or living in a crappy dorm full of freshmen.

avatar maynard March 24, 2011, 5:16 pm

crappy dorm full of freshman > her parents

avatar Maracuya March 24, 2011, 5:50 pm

My dorm did have people who sang Disney songs obnoxiously down the hall while twirling, who rode their scooters through the halls, who burned popcorn in the microwave and set off the fire alarm at 3 a.m. It was also filled with kids from different religions, cultures and classes. People sat on the couch and either talked about dirty jokes or the existence of God. These same people still left their dishes unwashed in the sink.

Point being, it was an interesting cross-section of people like me who were also figuring out how to do everything for themselves while sometimes messing up. I think the parents of the LW are doing her a disservice by not letting her experience that.

avatar Latoya November 9, 2012, 9:38 pm

I am in the same situation. My dad and brother want to control my life. I have pulled my hair in frustration I have hit myself constantly to try and figure out how much more perfect do they want me to be. Its some days I tell myself I hate you you are stupid. My mom wants me to have my freedom. I am twenty eight years old. I go and get piercings so that I can feel that adrenalin rush. I try hard to please them. I pay for the lights and car insurance. Its some days I want to cry myself to sleep. :-( it aggravates me. Help

avatar thyme March 24, 2011, 6:49 pm

She said that the reason she lives at home is because her parents “expect” her to be there until she marries, not because she can’t afford to move out.

It’s like it never occurred to her that she can leave _without_ her parents permission. What are they going to do her if she does? Ground her???

avatar jena March 25, 2011, 1:51 pm

I’m sorry, but most people in their early 20s still live off their parents money or shelter. THATS why theyre afraid to go against their parents’ wishes. Not because they’re cowardly or babies, but because they don’t want to be cut off or cause confrontation.

avatar Elle March 24, 2011, 9:45 am

LW, I feel for you. Only my mom is controlling, my dad let me do whatever I wanted. He also fought some of my fights. And I was lucky to go home away for college.

My advice is to tell your parents over and over again how responsible you are – you have a good job, and you are responsible enough to keep it. You get good grades, and you work hard to keep up your average. It would really help if you had some acquaintances that dropped out of high-school, or do drugs, or are pregnant, or in jail. Since you are a responsible person, I doubt any of your friends are like that though :). Anyway, tell your parents ad nauseam that you know how to stay out of trouble. And you also have proof – you don’t have any problems. If your parents are anything like my mom, they’ll tell you about people that are better than you. Don’t let them win that argument – again, say how similar you are to those other people. Your parents admire them, and if you are like them, they’ll start to see in you the same qualities they see in those other people.

Anyway, it will be a long process. Your parents need to let go of their need to ‘protect’ you. But you have to prove to them that you are capable of taking care of yourself without their assistance. And as long as you live with them, that will be hard to do.

The tables will turn, eventually. My mom is visiting me now, and guess what, she obeys my rules :). The rules only consist of ‘stop moving my stuff around, because I can’t find it’ and ‘don’t throw away any of my stuff without asking me’. But hey, it’s better than nothing :). (Also, ‘you can’t tell me what to wear’ and ‘I don’t know what time I’ll be home’, but I won those a long time ago :) )

avatar _jsw_ March 24, 2011, 9:49 am

@LW: I understand that your parents are very conservative. I also understand that, as a full-time student and full-time worker, you barely have time to breathe, much less contemplate dealing with a major feud with your parents.

However… this is a problem that will get worse the longer it goes on. You’ve legally been an adult for almost half a decade. You’ve been dating your boyfriend for a third of that time. And yet, your parents feel it is their right to forbid you to even go on a short trip with him. They have no legal nor ethical right to do so, and they’re basing their control of you on morals that you are not in any way obligated to share. This argument isn’t even about sex or wild times… it’s about a trip with your boyfriend of a year and a half. The fact he “needs” to ask their permission implies an ownership they have over you which does not, legally, exist.

I agree with Wendy in that, under their roof, you have a moral if not legal responsibility to give weight to their rules. What this means to me is that you need to get out from under their roof. Perhaps you should wait until you graduate – surely that’s soon – and then accept a job not within commuting distance, or join the Peace Corps, or do something that both fits with your interests and provides a reasonable excuse to leave. Obviously, you don’t need to wait. You can move out now. You could join the circus or the army or the cast of MTV’s Real World. But, with parents such as yours, maybe it would be easier with an “excuse” – that’s up to you.

But your “excuse” should not ever be marriage. That is not something to do just so you can leave home. Regardless of your opinions on premarital sex, I don’t think you should ever agree to marry someone you can’t even go on a trip with… which you won’t be able to do as long as you live with them. Thus, staying with them essentially ensures you’ll be unhappy or make a potentially major life mistake to escape. It does nothing for you at all except, for now, allow you to save on rent and food, depending on your arrangements.

My advice, then, is like what it’d be to someone in a miserable marriage with a controlling spouse – get an account they don’t know about, save as much as you possibly can, find and arrange a place to move to once you have the funds, and move out, preferably when they’re not home. At the very least, remove anything essential to you before informing them of your opinion. I’m sorry you need to treat them like a controlling spouse, but that is essentially how they’re acting. The difference, of course, is that a spouse actually has some legal right to join into decisions with you. They don’t.

avatar SpyGlassez March 24, 2011, 6:28 pm

“But your “excuse” should not ever be marriage. That is not something to do just so you can leave home. ”

^THIS. +1 internets

theattack theattack March 30, 2011, 12:10 pm

I agree with everything you said, jsw. But I don’t think we should jump to the conclusion that this girl is going to get married just so she can move out. People have been living with their parents until marriage for centuries at least. Of course, this woman needs out of her parents’ house, but there’s no reason to assume she’s going to make a rash decision if she doesn’t move out.

avatar _jsw_ March 30, 2011, 3:35 pm

Oh, I agree – I don’t think she’d do that. I was merely emphasizing that it’d be a bad thing to do so.

Likewise, you should never play ball in the house or run with scissors.

avatar sarolabelle March 24, 2011, 9:52 am

My parents were the same way. I simiply told my parents one day that I was leaving by the end of the month. My mom said to leave now. So I said okay, packed my bags, put them in the car and left. Not more than 2 minutes later she called asking where I was going and I said, maybe a friend’s house. She said I could come back until the end of the month. They did nothing for me though to help me move. I moved in with few friends and they just watched as I piled my stuff in my car and left. My mom came over a few times to complain about how gross the apt was but oh well. It didn’t stop her from calling me everyday. After 3 years we still talk like 3 times a day. I recently booked a trip with my bf in the Summer and she complains about it, doesn’t want me to go, but then accepted I was going and asked for all the details (where I’ll be, flight numbers, etc).

avatar MissDre March 24, 2011, 10:31 am

Omg sarolabelle, aren’t you like 29?? And your mom still doesn’t want you to go on a trip with your boyfriend?? Jeez!!

avatar sarolabelle March 24, 2011, 11:25 am

Yep! Crazy, I know. But she does survive in the end.

avatar maynard March 24, 2011, 11:31 am

“she does survive in the end” yeah I think that’s the exact point you need to be clear with your mother about (that is, if you even want your relationship with her to change at all). You will both go on living if you take a trip with your boyfriend.

Do you like her calling three times a day? Just wondering if you are okay with her “involvement” with your life

avatar sarolabelle March 24, 2011, 12:48 pm

she hardly asks about me when I call. She calls 3 times a day to talk about her day.

avatar sarolabelle March 24, 2011, 12:49 pm

oh I mean when she calls. Or I. Pretty much anytime we talk that is. It’s not about me.

avatar Just Max March 24, 2011, 2:12 pm

My mom doesn’t want me to travel _at all_.
Did I mention I am 33, divorced, left ‘home’ way over 10 years ago?
Parents. ;-)

avatar sarolabelle March 24, 2011, 12:57 pm

I’m replying to my own message because I forgot to say….

I was asked to go to Las Vegas last year for a conference at work. My mom flipped out crying. Told me that it isn’t safe there and I shouldn’t go out of my hotel. She knew as she was telling me this that I am an adult, I own my own house and I pretty much was going to do what I wanted to do so I said “yeah, okay, okay” over and over. And eventually she couldn’t bear the thought of me going there alone so we talked about it and eventually we decided that she should come with me. So there the first night in Vegas, 28 years old, with all my coworkers, their husbands and wives at dinner at Paris Buffet with…my mom! Hahaha!

It’s funny now but seriously, I have no idea how this looked to my coworkers. Did I look like a baby bringing along their mom to a business trip? Maybe. But overall at the end of the day I remember the trip as a good time spent with my Mom. Not my coworkers. My coworkers ignored me almost the whole time and left me at the conference the last day.

Vegas is not to be missed though. I think you should go to the trip. You have absolutely no reason to ask for their permission to go. You say the day you are leaving, “I’m going, we have the tickets. Bye” Write them a note if you have to and leave it on the counter. They can’t force you to stay and they can do nothing if you already left.

avatar sarolabelle March 24, 2011, 1:06 pm

crap….I just remembered I’m 29. Boo. :(

avatar maynard March 24, 2011, 1:13 pm

“It’s funny now but seriously, I have no idea how this looked to my coworkers. Did I look like a baby bringing along their mom to a business trip? Maybe. But overall at the end of the day I remember the trip as a good time spent with my Mom. Not my coworkers. My coworkers ignored me almost the whole time and left me at the conference the last day. ”

Honestly? Yeah, it probably looked REALLY absurd to your coworkers. I’m only 25 and if anyone around my age brought their mother to a work conference I would think it was incredibly bizarre. That’s great that you had a good time with your mom – but you were there for WORK and to be with coworkers, presumably. They ignored you because you had your mother with you, and that put them in an uncomfortable position. It’s probably hard to believe I’m not trying to pick on you, but that sounds like an extremely odd move to make, professionally. I would have not gone before I took my mom.

avatar _jsw_ March 24, 2011, 1:28 pm

On the other hand, the co-workers had spouses/SOs with them, so it’s not like it was just sarolabelle and her mom with a bunch of co-workers. I agree it likely seemed a bit unusual to them, but not as odd as if it was only people from her company… and her mom. I suspect they would have acted in the same way had she not brought her mother.

avatar maynard March 24, 2011, 1:38 pm

I view bringing an SO along VERY different than bringing a parent along. Especially a mom that cried and cried about her very much grown daughter going to Vegas alone.

avatar Maracuya March 24, 2011, 2:38 pm

Her mom totally just wanted a trip to Vegas. ;)

avatar honeybeenicki March 24, 2011, 2:30 pm

We actually have a few people at our office that sometimes brings parents or siblings to out of state conferences. I just recently went to Austin and tried to convince my mom to come with me (she’s not overbearing or anything like that, I just enjoy hanging out with her) and she wouldn’t come because she’s going on a cruise with my aunt and needed to save her vacation time.

And on another note to LW – I moved out when I was 16. Now, I live in the same house again with my mom, but the tables are turned a little – I rented the house first and she moved in with me (we split the rent evenly, etc so its not like its “my house”). We have an awesome relationship now. Sometimes you just have to stand up to your parents.

avatar Mainer March 24, 2011, 9:56 am

I agree with Wendy in the sense that you need to make sure you can land on your feet if you go against your parents. You never want to bite the hand that feeds you. You need to SHOW your parents you are an adult. Living on your own, supporting yourself, etc may instill the confidence they need to feel comfortable with you making other adult decisions. If, on the other hand, you are unable to do that at this stage in your life, then you may want to tread carefully. If they are supporting you and providing a place to live when you are unable to do so on your own, then it would be disrespectful to so blatantly disobey their rules like that. You need to establish yourself as an adult to start being treated like one. They will likely stand by their “wait until marriage” mindset, but you need to be able to discuss the issue with them so they understand where you’re coming from. Being on your feet in other areas of your life will only give your argument more credibility.

Skyblossom Skyblossom March 25, 2011, 5:39 pm

You’re right. When it’s your house you get to make the rules and if you don’t like the rules then you need to get your own place.

Jess Jess of CityGirlsWorld.com March 24, 2011, 10:06 am

I really wonder if moving out is an option at all. I’m guessing that every cent she earns goes into tuition and bills. And even if she found a situation with multiple roommates in a tiny house, she’s still likely to be putting out more into rent, utilities, etc than she can afford spare.

I think part of this syndrome that we’re all stunned by, IS caused by the economy as Wendy notes, and the fact that young people are living far longer with their parents than previous generations. And whether cause or effect, the overly intrusive “helicopter parent” seems to come with the program. I’m truly sympathetic but I wonder if she’s going to have to work harder at negotiating the terms of her “rental agreement” until she’s finished school and finally has the means to go it on her own…

avatar elisabeth March 24, 2011, 11:04 am

Exactly this. She definitely needs to be careful when pushing for compromise with her parents (although I agree, she absolutely should!) – she may not have the option to move out. What is equitable and what is are often two very different things, and while yes, the LW is an adult and is able to make her own decisions from a legal stance, it seems like she’s still very dependant on her parents as far as a living situation is concerned.

It all depends on her means. =/

avatar maynard March 24, 2011, 11:13 am

If I were her and still in school for even another year, I would take out a small loan to cover the cost of living on my own. For someone that works full time, I don’t think a 5-10k loan or line of credit to cover any shortfalls is that much to pay back when she’s essectially buying her freedom for some of the best years of her life. I have a feeling her parents may still be claiming her as a dependant on their tax returns, but if they’re not she should be able to qualify for fiancial assistance with tuition or on campus housing, if applicable.

I’m sure it’s just my personality versus the LW, but I would do just about anything to get out of that house.

avatar baby.blanka March 24, 2011, 10:25 am

Just as a side note – it is possible to work and go to school full time living on your own (at least in Ohio… don’t know cost of living everywhere) – but I don’t even think that’s the issue.

The LW is close with her family and it hurt that they don’t trust her. I know that in HS I went on camping trips and overnights and all kinds of things that the LW probably had to miss out on because of her parents. She did the right thing by asking and not making up some lie to go, and they still don’t give her credit for being a really good person. She is honest, open, and hard working yet she is treated like a baby.

I agree that moving out is definitely an option at this point, though it might cause a huge (maybe temporary) rift in your family. If possible I would try to talk to them without getting too emotional about how hard you’ve worked and how you feel that you deserve their trust and support. You haven’t let them down in the past and there’s nothing to indicate that you will on this trip. You know right from wrong. Tell them that you feel the only way you can experience things for yourself is by moving out, they might try to compromise with you from there.

avatar TheOtherMe March 24, 2011, 10:28 am

baby.blanka, your comment is perfect !

avatar baby.blanka March 24, 2011, 11:38 am

Aw garsh (blushes)

avatar MissDre March 24, 2011, 10:36 am

I moved out when I was 19. My mom and I were fighting a lot. And she was so mad that I was going… She kept saying that I wasn’t ready, that I wasn’t mature enough. But, I calmly told her I was leaving. I found some room mates, looked for a place, put down my share of first and last month’s rent, and gave my mom the moving date.

It took until the week I was supposed to move for my mom to finally get it, that I was really going. And she helped me move. But, it was about another 6 months until my mom and I really became friends again. Our parents have loved us and protected us and nurtured us our entire lives, from when we were small and helpless. We have to be understanding that it’s hard for them to let us go.

But ultimately, we have to do what’s right for us. Like Wendy said, our parents love us. And they’ll forgive us. LW, just do what you gotta do and your parents will come around (hopefully).

avatar ReginaRey March 24, 2011, 10:43 am

I agree with Wendy and the commenters above – No one is saying it will be an easy journey, but if you want them to stop controlling your life, you need to be 100% independent of them. I understand that if your parents are THAT staunchly religious and conservative, they could potentially cut you out of their lives. We grow up wanting to please our parents, and wanting them to be proud of us – and it’s monumentally difficult to make a decision that would go directly AGAINST that, and perhaps tear a rift forever.

However, I think you need to sit them down and tell them the truth. While you respect and love them unconditionally, you do not see the world nor your situation the same way they do. And while it’s been an extremely difficult decision, you have decided that you would like to venture out into the world as a real, independent adult. Emphasize that it’s only with independence that you can learn to be a person separate from them.

One of the hardest things about adulthood is learning that you don’t always have to please your parents, and slowly realizing that YOU need to be the one to decide what’s best for yourself, not them. I wish you all the best, LW!

avatar cat-i-z March 24, 2011, 10:56 am

My parents are strict Christians too.. and I love them for it. But I did move out when I was 18 because if I had not… I might be in the LW’s situation. You do have to move out and begin your independence from your parents. It may upset and hurt them but in the long run… your relationship with them will be better….

Good Luck to you and I look forward to this update!

avatar WatersEdge March 24, 2011, 10:57 am

I don’t think you should go on the trip. I don’t think that short-term rebellion is the answer. I think that you should work on getting out from under their thumbs now if you can afford it, or after you graduate and start working. I do NOT think you should wait until marriage to leave. That mindset will cause you to get married younger than you might like. It may also cause you to overlook fundamental differences between you and your boyfriend to try to make any marriage work. I’m sure he’s a great guy, but you need a clear head to make those decisions.

As the other commentors pointed out, your parents will most likely forgive you eventually for moving out. They will forgive you sooner rather than later if you appear to be living the kind of life they’d approve of, except for living away from them. When you live away from them, how much you choose to tell them is at your discretion. You can re-define your relationship as you go at that point. If you choose to take a stand and tell them about things like vacations, then good for you. If you choose to avoid worrying them because the relationship is still tenuous, I could see the benefits of that too. I have very protective/strict parents too and I hate to tell you this, but it really doesn’t ever get better until you take back the control, make your own choices, and let them know that if they want a relationship with you, it will be on mutually beneficial terms.

avatar Heather Girl March 24, 2011, 11:10 am

I don’t see going on the trip as “short-term rebellion.” Maybe she just wants to do what lots of people in their twenties do, live life.

avatar spaceboy761 March 24, 2011, 12:05 pm

I’m with WE on this one. Her main goal should be financial independence, and blowing money on trips won’t bring her any closer to that. It’s disheartening, but it’s also EXACTLY what Suze Orman would say.

People first, then money, then things, then TOTALLY RAD JACKETS!!!

avatar WatersEdge March 24, 2011, 12:50 pm

I think you’re taking the term rebellion as I used it to have judgmental implications. But objectively speaking she’d be rebelling against her parents’ wishes. I don’t mean to imply that she shouldn’t want to go on the trip.

avatar IdaTarbell March 24, 2011, 11:15 am

I might be the odd one out here, but my belief is “My house, my rules” for adult children living at home. It sucks that some parents aren’t very understanding about modern dating, or drinking, or just staying out until 2 a.m. But unless you’re paying rent, buying your own food and helping with utilities, you’re being supported and under the care of your parents. It really, really sucks, but unless you have another option (moving in with a friend, SO, relative) you need to respect that parents have a final say on the goings-on of their home-life.

That said, I think the LW should explain the situation to the parents. Will she be sharing a room with other girls or her boyfriend? Are the other people Christian? (Lame, yes, but I know that would make a difference to people who are religious.) Can the parents meet the other friends or even the friends’/boyfriend’s parents? The most you can do is try to have them understand you plan on respecting yourself and your religion while having fun.

avatar maynard March 24, 2011, 11:39 am

I do agree with ‘my house my rules’ but only to a point. I get if they don’t want her to have friends over all the time. I get if they don’t want anyone drinking in their house, or her boyfriend to sleep over, or for her to come home at 3am every night. But actually having a curfew at 22 is not okay in my book. Asking permission to date? No way. I clearly did not grow up in an environment like this, but at 22 i certainly did not ask my parents for permission to go on a trip. As an adult, I made my own plans. I’m sorry but at some point she needs to stand up for herself unless she enjoys being treated like a child (which, who knows, maybe she does)

avatar Desiree March 24, 2011, 12:47 pm

While in principle I understand the concept “my house my rules,” I think that it is inappropriate to push it to that degree. Particularly because she is still having to live under her parents’ roof because she is making a GOOD decision: going to college. I start medical school this fall, and therefore have not yet achieved financial independence. But I have discussed with my parents that my lack of financial independence should not count heavily against me, because it reflects the mature decision to pursue a professional degree.

avatar anna728 March 24, 2011, 6:18 pm

Oy, I don’t even believe in “my house, my rules” for before you’re 18! Your parents shouldn’t have to give you money for specific things they disagree with (for instance if it had been the case that the LW wanted her parents to pay for the Vegas trip rather than just allow it). Or if they don’t want her doing specific things IN the house, etc. But just because you aren’t 100% percent financially independent doesn’t mean you aren’t your own person who shouldn’t be able to make their own decisions. Having such repressive rules (during college, which should be all kinds of experiences) really affects your life and I don’t think parents or anyone else should have the right to make so many decisions for you.

avatar Ang March 25, 2011, 5:32 pm

I am the mother of several adult children (19 to 24). My 19 year old daughter has moved back in with me temporarily until she moves into her apartment. She does have a curfew during the work week, not because I want to control her, but because the dogs bark like crazy when she comes in and it wakes us up. So she has two options, come home by 11 or don’t come home until morning. She has asked to live here, but to be honest, I don’t want her to. I love her dearly and I love getting along with her, living together is not compatible with us getting along. I realize she lives her life in a way that I don’t always agree with. But it is HER life, not mine. As parents, it’s our job to raise our kids to be independent. That means making your own decisions and living with the consequences. My kids have had the benefit of being raised my two parents who have taken a lot of time to discuss the morals and values we believe are important (BTW, we have NO problem with premarital sex….you wouldn’t buy shoes without trying them on, would you?) This means that we have done our job. After the kids are 18, it’s up to them. They know I will always be here to help. No money for dinner, but all your bills are paid? Eat at my house, fine with me…..got a new tattoo and don’t have money for groceries? Come home to momma, I’ll take you to Wal-Mart and buy you ramen noodles, peanut butter and bread, but no dinner at my house. (see? actions, consequences…)
I agree with my “house, my rules”….I just make my rules tough enough that they don’t want to live here. The extended adolescence is for the birds!

avatar nawilla March 24, 2011, 11:31 am

I’m going to go against the tide a bit a say FINISH SCHOOL THEN MOVE OUT.

Right now you are at your parent’s mercy and they know it. You are an adult and you should be independent, but the healthier path to independence includes a college degree. Stop worrying about your boyfriend, your social life, your parents’ psychological problems and finish your degree. Also, while you are finishing your degree, save up your money, explore other housing options and figure out your exit strategy.

It does you no good to move out and sabotage your future because you can’t manage to pay for non-parental housing AND school at the same time, and having that degree is worth a little bit of inconvience. (And frankly, if you are in school, your priority should be school and not vacation time with your boyfriend anyway). Then, degree in hand, move out into the world knowing you are not going to be burdened by an excessive workload (school and work), nor unreasonable expenses (housing and tuition).

If you are 22 years old now, you likely don’t have that much more time until you are done. See if you can push up the time table with a summer class or two if you have more than a year.

avatar maynard March 24, 2011, 11:41 am

“(And frankly, if you are in school, your priority should be school and not vacation time with your boyfriend anyway).”

Disagree. She’s 22 and has never been on a trip with a boyfriend, EVER. She 100% deserves a long weekend away. If taking one extra day off makes her school life crumble she has other problems, but she seems quite responsible enough to manage a day off.

avatar nawilla March 24, 2011, 2:10 pm

I agree as an adult she SHOULD be able to go on a vacation if she wants to. But with this parent-child dynamic, going on the vacation she wants to go on is likely to result in parents kicking her out of the house or otherwise sabotaging her education. Her responsibility is to herself (and her future self) first.

But seriously, at 22, if she’s paying for college and paying rent, where is this magic vacation money coming from? A day trip with the boyfriend is one thing. A multi-day trip to Vegas is another. Finish school. If the boyfriend is worth it, he (and Vegas) will still be there when she is 23 and has her own apartment.

avatar thefierycrash March 24, 2011, 5:29 pm

sidenote: a one-nighter in vegas isn’t that expensive– my boyfriend and i are doing one soon. if you’re within driving distance and sharing a room with multiple people (or go during the week), it’s a relatively affordable, quick, fun trip. i would like to think any 22 year old should be ALLOWED to go if they can reasonably afford it.

avatar anna728 March 24, 2011, 6:22 pm

I don’t think going on a vacation once ever, and for a special occasion, conflicts with having school being your top priority. I am a college student and c’mon, if kids can play beer pong every night and get a degree I think this responsible girl can go on one short trip.

avatar _jsw_ March 24, 2011, 11:53 am

First of all, I completely agree with nawilla in that, if there is any question of a move threatening your degree (due to finances, emotional distress, etc.) then you absolutely should get the degree first. Surely, it’s close at hand.

Second, I agree with maynard in that school can be a priority without it meaning that the vacation would adversely affect it. Of course, the same caveats as above apply in that, if going will cause such an issue with the LW’s parents that her education would be affected, then the vacation should be sacrificed.

The degree is the main priority. It will arrive shortly. Then, with that permanently in place, the LW can exercise her rights as an adult in this society.

avatar Amy March 24, 2011, 11:47 am

Consider reading the book “Boundaries: When to Say YES, When to Say NO, To Take Control of Your Life” by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. It is a Christian based book on establishing healthy boundaries – it might offer a good perspective that your parents could also understand as you try to establish healthy boundaries for a relationship with your parents now that you are an adult. I think it would also help with other relationships as you go through life.

sobriquet sobriquet March 24, 2011, 11:53 am

You’re 22! Go live your life! Get an apartment with a couple roommates, go to Vegas with your friends, and let your parents know that you’ll be making your own decisions from now on. Go out and experience life.

caitie_didnt caitie_didn't March 24, 2011, 12:01 pm

Ah, LW, I feel your pain a little bit. My parents aren’t very religious, but they’re strict (especially my dad) and I’m the oldest child (i.e. overprotected to the max). I moved away for school because I realized that I would be suffocated if I stayed at home and it was the *best* decision I have ever made for myself. I have a lot of debt, because when I told my parents I was moving my dad said “okay, well then we’re not giving you any money for school”. They eventually caved but they’ve given me maybe $2000 in 4.5 years of undergrad and I paid for the rest with student loans and summer/co-op jobs. And I recognize that $2000 is a lot more than some parents are willing or able to give and I’m lucky to even get that.

Beyond that, though, my parents still treat me like a child who’s not able to understand what’s best for me. When I started dating my now ex, we were long distance and I went to his city for a weekend to visit. I lied about it, because I didn’t have the energy to argue with them, and I also lied about how often he was visiting me initially. Then one day I realized how ridiculous this was, because I was 22 and lived in my own damn house, which I paid for with my own damn money. So there were a lot of fights, and lot of disappointment from my parents when I was more honest with them about my relationship, but eventually they got over it.

Whew, that got long. My advice to the LW would be that she needs to get out of the house ASAP, whether that means taking out a loan or finding some roommates. It’s time to start living as an adult, and she’s clearly not going to be able to do that in her parent’s house.

avatar lemongrass March 24, 2011, 12:09 pm

You live in their house, you have an obligation to obey their rules regardless of how crazy they may be. Don’t want to live the life they want you to? Move out. Don’t say that there is no way, there is always a way. There just may be no EASY way. Put your big girl panties on, live life the way you want to, and cut the umbilical cord already.

Do you really think that your parents are going to change their beliefs and morals just because you really want them to? Do you really think that they should?

My parents are conservative as well. I am not allowed to spend the night in the same room as my fiance at my parents house until we are married. I say spend the night because I moved out at 17 when I graduated high school. It wasn’t easy but it was worth it. There were times when I was eating pasta with my roommates butter on it because I couldn’t afford a jar of spaghetti sauce. I went hungry. It was worth it though because it made me the strong, independant woman that I am.

avatar anna728 March 24, 2011, 6:54 pm

I don’t think she should expect them to change their beliefs and morals, but I do think it’s reasonable that they should not enforce them on her now that she’s an adult.

And if one of their rules is no moving out until marriage, then the justification of a “my house my rules” policy is gone. I can understand (though still disagree with) saying she has to follow their rules while choosing to live there and depend on them, but it’s not a choice in their eyes.