Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Parents Treat Me Like a Baby”

I’m 19 and still live with my parents because I made the financially-sound decision to take my basic college courses at a community college instead of going away to a university. I am still taking a full course-load and also working part-time. I’m also dating a guy my dad loves and wants me to marry. My mom, who is really hormonal/monopausal and controlling and also somewhat ’empty nesting’ even though we are all still in the house, thinks my boyfriend is okay.

Unfortunately, every time I want to go away with my boyfriend — even just on day trips — it’s always a big deal. At the same time, my brother, who is older by three years, is allowed to spend the night at his girlfriend’s house whenever he would like — he doesn’t even have to ask and never has had to.

Do you think that is just a gender difference? My parents’ main justification for the difference is the fact that my brother went to university and essentially lived “on his own” (without supervision) while I haven’t. Never mind that while he was in school, he was not working and didn’t pay a dime towards his tuition. Sometimes my parents just tell me that they do not want grandkids any time soon, which they know damn well I don’t want either.

I do everything I possibly can to make my parents proud and be the least burden on them. — So done with trying

Yes, the difference between how your parents treat you and your brother probably does have something to do with gender. It probably also has something to do with you being younger — the “baby” of the family. It may have something to do with behavioral differences between you and your brother. It probably has something to do with you having never left home, so the distinction between teenage-you and grownup-you isn’t as clear. Oh, but wait. YOU STILL ARE A TEENAGER. And you still live at home. And your parents probably still pay most of your living expenses. So, as unfair as it may seem that you don’t get as much freedom as your brother, suck it up and deal with it.

Until you can afford to move out and live on your own, you have to put up with rules and restrictions of the people who pay your way. Sure, maybe it’s unfair, but trust me, this will be one of the easier examples of life being unfair that you’ll have to deal with in your lifetime. What’s more, you don’t say in your letter that your parents don’t let you go away with your boyfriend, only that it’s a “big deal.” You know what I say to that? BIG DEAL. So maybe you have to do a bit more convincing than your brother ever had to. Maybe they enforce conditions you don’t like — a curfew, for example, or no overnight at your boyfriend’s place. Again, if this is your biggest complaint when you get free room and board and maybe even help with tuition — so much more than many people get — just suck it up and deal.

In a few years, you’ll have more freedom, and with it much, much more responsibility and a whole butt-load of crap that’s way more unfair than having to ask permission to spend a day with your boyfriend. Try to embrace what you have now before you blink and it’s gone and you’re 27 and heartbroken cause you just got dumped and even the sight of an envelope in the mail sends you into panic-mode because you’re afraid it’s a bill and the last time you checked you had $118 in your bank account and you don’t get paid for another ten days and there’s nothing in your kitchen but a half-empty box of stale Wheat Thins and a couple bottles of Miller Lite. Life gets hard. You can’t blame your parents for wanting to protect their baby from some of its hard realities just a little bit longer.

***************

You can follow me on Facebook here and sign up for my weekly newsletter here.

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

157 comments… add one
  • avatar

    GatorGirl May 6, 2013, 9:10 am

    WWS.

    Their house, their rules. It doesn’t matter why those rules exsist (gender, age, birth order, etc). Follow them or move out. Simple as that. (And my advice is follow them. I lived at home until I was 25 and had a curfew until 25. Was it annoying? Yes. Did I save a ton of money/stress by living at home? Yes.)

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    • avatar

      csp May 6, 2013, 9:31 am

      I had a curfew until I got married! Ha, Yea, the rules were less annoying than being on my own and broke.

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    • avatar

      sarolabelle May 6, 2013, 9:59 am

      I lived with my parents until 27. Curfew and all. I even had to pay $200 in rent every month. Good times!

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  • avatar

    kerrycontrary May 6, 2013, 9:18 am

    Yes, this has something to do with your gender. It really sucks when you realize that your parents are sexist. But in their mind, if your brother impregnates someone yes he has responsibility but he’s not the one carrying the child. If you get accidentally pregnant? No guarantee that boyfriend sticks around and your parents will probably be supporting you as a single mother. I went through the same thing the summer after my freshman year of college. While I had a curfew and my mom didn’t want me to drive to my boyfriend’s house, my brother had girls sleep over while he was in high school. There were a ton of fights. But you know what my solution was? I never went home again for an extended period of time. I studied abroad or stayed in my college town and worked until I went to grad school. If you want freedom you’ll have to move out. I would just suck it up and deal with it. I’m with you on the menopause/hormones thing. My mom went through this when I was 15/16 and all of a sudden she was like “you never spend time with the family wahhhhh”.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom May 6, 2013, 10:07 am

      I think the fact that they don’t want to be burdened raising a child is part of it. They see the empty nest on the horizon and they don’t want to lose that just because their daughter has a baby while in college and suddenly they are emotionally, physically and financially supporting a child. They know that is how it would work and they know they don’t want to go there.

      It is unfair that they don’t worry about their son in the same way and shortsighted. We had a friend who had a son and a daughter and he always said that his daughter could date when he was dead but his son could do anything. I got tired of hearing that over and over and told him that was fine if he didn’t mind his first grandchild having an unmarried teen mother. Parents should care whether their son is making babies as a teenager. Parents should care as much about their son with someone else’s daughter as they do about their own daughter.

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      • avatar

        AmyP May 6, 2013, 11:58 am

        In a worst case scenario, a son can create more of a mess than a daughter can. A daughter can only get pregnant once a year, whereas a son could get a number of girls pregnant in a short period of time.

        There’s a guy who used to work for my family who got a girl pregnant when he was 15 or 16 years old. 10-15 years later, he’s still working under the table at menial jobs, because when he surfaces at legitimate, tax-paying jobs, the child support gets sucked out of his pay checks, leaving not nearly enough for him to live on. So he’s just scraping along, working the minimum possible to support himself. He couch surfed for a number of years and for a while was living in a car with a different girlfriend. It’s a stupid long-term plan and there’s no future to it, but easy to fall into, I suppose.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest May 6, 2013, 12:03 pm

        I agree, but its likely the girl would end up being the one actually caring for the child. So she’d also be scraping along with no money, and a baby.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom May 6, 2013, 3:17 pm

        It definitely harms a son too. I wish more parents would realize that. Even if the son goes to college and gets a good job he will be paying child support for 18 years (and his child absolutely deserves the support) and that will affect his ability to pay off students loans and purchase a home.

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    • avatar

      painted_lady May 6, 2013, 10:33 am

      God, I hear this about menopause. My mom went from being reasonable and fun to OMG CRAZY – not all the time, but when she lost it she was out of control. I asked her what was going on, if maybe maybe maybe she thought she should get checked for menopause, and she was all, “I’M NOT MENOPAUSAL RAAAAAAAAWWWWRRRRR!” So I left it alone and figured it was none of my business, which it really wasn’t, and then a few years later, I made some reference that inferred I assumed she hadn’t hit menopause yet, and she laughed like I had just said the most moronic thing on earth and told me that had happened yeeeeeaaaaars ago. She definitely did the thing where she was kind of crazy when I was around, and when I cleared out because, you know, RUN AWAY, then I wasn’t spending enough time with her.

      Also, the funny thing was, she still talks about how terrible her mother was during menopause – in the same ways. I’ve given Walter advance permission to drug me during menopause if I need it.

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  • Copa

    Copa May 6, 2013, 9:22 am

    WWS.

    I know it’s annoying, but you’ll (hopefully) look back one day and realize why it was for the best! I moved back home after grad school just after my 25th birthday, at which point I’d been on my own for 7 years. And guess what? Even at 25, I was putting up with expectations/rules I didn’t really like. (I didn’t have a boyfriend during that time/had just met my current boyfriend when I was in the process of moving back out, but I have parents who are religious and they would NOT have been okay with my having sleepovers with my boyfriend. Even at his place. Even in my mid-20s.) I stayed for over a year. I moved out a few months ago (I’m 26 now). Even though it was annoying, I would not have been able to pay over half of my student loan debt in a year (over $30K!). I would not have had several thousand dollars in savings tucked away when I moved out on my own. I was really, really lucky. If I’d been younger when I moved back in, I’d have stayed longer than I did. At 19, you have that luxury whereas someone my age needs to get her shit together ASAP to live like an adult already.

    Just suck it up for now, LW. You should even try to enjoy it while it lasts. One day you’ll realize you’re better off for it in some way, shape, or form.

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  • LK7889

    LK7889 May 6, 2013, 9:25 am

    As you grow up, you realize that everything has a price. In this case the price for financial stability is dealing with your parent’s rules. If you don’t like that price, you can give up the financial stability for a mountain of student loan debt and more freedom.

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    • FireStar

      Firestar May 6, 2013, 9:43 am

      Completely agree. Every choice has consequences. Don’t like the consequences? Choose differently. She may find her parents strict or even strict and biased but that is the parent’s prerogative. It’s her prerogative to stay or go.

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  • avatar

    bethany May 6, 2013, 9:25 am

    WWS.

    Even after I’d gone away to college, I still had to follow the rules when I went home to visit, and my parents gave me a hard time about going to see a boyfriend out of state when I was like 21 or 22, and I hadn’t lived at home for 2+ years. That’s just the way it is sometimes. Learn to deal with it.

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  • avatar

    Sasa May 6, 2013, 9:25 am

    It’s unclear to me how much your parents are restricting your possibilities to spend time with your bf. Do they not allow you to stay at his place over night at all? That would seem overly restrictive to me. But it seems like they generally allow you to spend time with him.

    Lots of parents are really afraid their daughters might get pregnant. Maybe you could reduce that fear by telling them not just that you don’t want a child yet, but that you’re practicing a safe method of birth control.

    Generally speaking, you will have more independence if you move away from your parents. Living under your parents’ roof comes with more supervision on their part almost automatically.

    I don’t think that living with them/ being supported financially means that you can’t reason with them about their rules at all. Explain to them why that the things you want to do are safe and they needn’t be concerned. I don’t think it’s wrong to point out differential treatment based on gender either, sometimes people have a light bulb moment when it’s pointed out to them. This will only work if your parents aren’t proud sexists though. If they are traditionalists they might not feel this kind of discrimination is wrong.

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    • avatar

      ebstarr May 6, 2013, 9:50 am

      Maybe she should get a little subtle revenge on her parents by sitting them down and explaining, in detail, what method of birth control she uses “so that they feel better.” 🙂

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      • avatar

        Sasa May 6, 2013, 10:19 am

        LOL. I was actually being serious! If I had a teen daughter that would make me feel better for sure. But I guess if the parents are conservative, that would backfire.

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      • avatar

        ebstarr May 6, 2013, 10:28 am

        I think it would make me feel better, too. If I have a kid of either gender, that conversation will be had in DEPTH believe me. But then again, I wouldn’t be like these parents to begin with, and I probably still wouldn’t want to hear “And we use condoms even when we have anal!” or whatever, because… it’s still your kid 🙂 (Not that that’s birth control, but y’know what I mean.)

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest May 6, 2013, 10:36 am

        Oh My God

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom May 6, 2013, 10:24 am

      The trouble with parents is that they’ve lived long enough to see things like birth control fail. They’ve seen people be irresponsible with it. They’ve seen friends raising grandkids. They’ve seen teen mothers drop out of school and have a much more difficult life. Telling the parents that she uses a safe method of birth control probably won’t do a thing except make them more vigilant.

      Parents protect daughters because they love them. They worry about daughters because a daughter’s life can be derailed by pregnancy. Parents also worry about daughters because they are afraid they could be attacked or raped so they want to limit the opportunity for that to happen. They know that someone could slip something into their daughter’s drink and then rape her and take pictures of her and put them on the internet. Most parents protect daughters more than sons and worry about daughters more than sons.

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      • katie

        Katie May 6, 2013, 10:34 am

        And, of course, that is *such* a great strategy to combat those problems…

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      • Miel

        Miel May 6, 2013, 10:49 am

        But then the goal of the parents should be to teach to their daughter how to stay safe, no ? She won’t be living in their house, under their protection, all her life, so she need to learn how to stay safe by her own.

        There are ways to have a healthy, almost risk free, sexual life as a young adult. Parents should inform themselves, and inform their kids (both gender !) about all forms of birth control. If I was a parent, and I knew my daughter had 1) access to condoms, knew how/when to use them, was comfortable with buying them herself and comfortable talking to her partner about it, 2) BC pills has her personal method to not be pregnant, no matter what her partner does, 3) regular check-up with her doctor 4) a good information sources about pregnancy/birth control/STIs that she reads regularly and take seriously, then I don’t think I should be worried. Or at least, not to a point I need to protect her.

        If they worry about their daughter being attacked, they should put her in a self-defense class. They should teach her good practice when walking alone on the street at night. They should teach her that “no means no” even when she’s with her boyfriend, or someone she knows. They should teach her to never let her drink out of sight, to never accept a drink from someone else’s hands that the barmaid’s, and that she should always be with trusted friends, who won’t let her disappear with some guy.

        Parents protecting their daughter will only do a minimal job. They need to get informed, and teach their daughter !

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest May 6, 2013, 10:56 am

        Eh, I think its fairly possible they could be doing both…protecting and informing.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom May 6, 2013, 11:00 am

        I think so too.

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      • avatar

        Sasa May 6, 2013, 10:57 am

        Very true, and sheltering a teen excessively can actually have the effect of making them more vulnerable to dangers like teen pregnancy, because if they still get into a risky situation they’ll be less likely to deal with it in a good way. Better educate a daughter about birth control and allow her to go out/ have a bf than trying to keep her protected by forbidding her those things.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom May 6, 2013, 11:15 am

        There is a huge difference between her going out on a date with a boyfriend and her spending the weekend away with a boyfriend. They may just be asking questions because they want to know where she will be and when she will be back so that if she doesn’t make it back they know where to start looking. That is what parents do. It doesn’t mean that they don’t want her to know anything about birth control. It doesn’t mean that they are forbidding her from using birth control.

        Most of the parents I know want the world for their daughters. They want them to be able to live whatever dream they have, to pursue any career. They see their daughters as having unlimited opportunity as long as they stay in school. They especially don’t want that opportunity destroyed by a boy so parents warn their daughters about boys and sex and try to protect them from the worst outcomes. They do want their daughters to use birth control if they are sexually active but they also know that birth control can fail. They know that teen fathers rarely stick around to raise a child. They know that teen mothers usually drop out of school to take care of the child. They know that their daughter and her child are more likely to have a difficult life than if their daughter finishes school and then has children while in a committed relationship.

        This is a big change from even the 1950s and 1960s when parents didn’t see a career as a possible future for their daughters and when many parents refused to pay for college for a daughter because they didn’t want to pay for an MRS degree. At that time they were protecting their daughters from the social stigma of being an unmarried mother. Today parents are protecting the future career and earning potential of their daughter.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest May 6, 2013, 11:21 am

        Love it, love it, love it!

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest May 6, 2013, 11:21 am

        Love, love, love it!

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      • avatar

        SasaLinna May 6, 2013, 11:24 am

        All I’m saying is that refusing sleep-overs/going on trips with a bf won’t prevent a girl from getting pregnant. The only thing that has any influence on that is good information on birth control. And the “don’t want to be grandparents yet” is just plain unhelpful. It’s hinting, almost threatening instead of having a candid talk.

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      • avatar

        SasaLinna May 6, 2013, 11:26 am

        Ugh I have two different names right now, sorry.

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      • Miel

        Miel May 6, 2013, 11:38 am

        Why is there a huge difference between going on a date and spending a weekend away if she’s 19 already ? She’s not 12, she’s not 15, she’s 19 ! At her age, most girls are 200 miles away living in residence. How is that “safer” than spending a weekend away ?

        At 17 I was 1000 miles away from my parents for a whole summer on an internship. At 19 I was abroad, by my own in a country where I didn’t know a single person, for three months. At 20 I was 3000 miles away to visit, guess who, my boyfriend, for four full months.

        Parents need to let her learn to be away, and for here to take care of her own safety. Or else, she will go away for university (or somewhere else) without ANY experience of living without her parent’s protection. How is that not a recipe for disaster ?

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest May 6, 2013, 11:53 am

        Sounds like you were very different than this LW. LW is living a somewhat sheltered life under her parents roof as a teenager, whose parents are footing her bills. I don’t think its any safer per se, but yea parents get a say if they are housing her and providing for her financially. Of course, if she doesn;t like that, she can do what you did, which I assume was difficult.

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      • Miel

        Miel May 6, 2013, 12:11 pm

        It wasn’t difficult, just a lot of fun. I’m still living with my parents, I always have been, and they are mostly paying for everything I need (except the traveling. That was me finding scholarships and travel award). But I have a good relationship with them. They allowed me and helped me to get out of the nest and live some great experiences, while building some savings by staying with them rent free.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom May 6, 2013, 2:39 pm

        Part of it is that the parents know when she is out when she lives with them and they worry and have trouble sleeping until she gets home. If she was living away at college they wouldn’t know when she was out and they would get a good nights sleep. Part of this is probably based on their need for sleep so that they can function during the day because they can’t shut off their concern just because their daughter turned 19.

        Part of it is that she has never left home and never been on her own so has been more sheltered. Part of it is their personality and her personality. Part of it is her parent’s views on appropriate behavior. Part of it is protecting their daughter because parents tend to view daughters as more vulnerable. Part of it is probably something else entirely.

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      • avatar

        BreezyAM May 6, 2013, 4:25 pm

        I’m not *more* protective of my daughter than my sons… but, it’s different. Mostly because look I’ve never seen boys get near as STUPID about relationships as I’ve seen girls get. Girls will seriously think they’re going to marry their 17 year old boyfriend, rationalize why getting knocked up at 18 is a great idea, see their guy through all kinds of rose coloured glasses (largely because we’ve socialized girls to have to be “in love” to justify wanting to have a sex life). Boys don’t do that. Boys have some sex, move on to the next girl, play some guitar, skateboard, go out with their friends, and then go to college and have sex with other girls. OBVIOUSLY there are exceptions to this but this is what happens in our gender norm socialized society. So yes I’m much more worried about my daughter… well not MY daughter because well, she’s an odd one, but her cousin/sisters (her dad and his wife have adopted his wife’s sibling’s 2 daughters, and they’ve been raised as our kids’ siblings since they were in elementary school) for sure. But… one thing I do know is getting all super controlling on the girls is a bad strategy. It just plays right into it. So I worry differently, but the rules aren’t different. We just talk. A lot.

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      • avatar

        spark May 6, 2013, 7:46 pm

        I dunno, Breezy, that sounds really presumptive and sexist to me. Glad I’m not your daughter.

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  • Fabelle

    Fabelle May 6, 2013, 9:26 am

    LW, I know everybody is going to tell you some variation of “suck it up”, so I’ll come in here a little bit on your side. Yes—it does seem unfair (& gender-based) for your parents to have more relaxed rules for your brother. And it’s illogical that their justification is the fact that he went away for school, while you’re still at home (although Wendy’s right that this is probably due to the lack of “distinction between teenage-you and grownup-you”).

    Also, my mom went through menopause when I was like 14, 15 years-old, so I get it. It was a painful time (hormonal teenage girl + hormonal perimenopausal mother= not a calm household). But there’s not much you can do, unfortunately—unless you revert into some early teen version of yourself & decide to “rebel” against all the rules. Not a good look for a college student!

    So my advice is to just be patient. Follow the rules. Be responsible. And I imagine she’ll ease up over time.

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    • avatar

      Slamy May 6, 2013, 10:28 am

      I went through it with my mom too. It’s kind of funny looking back, because at the time I didn’t understand what either of us were going through. My mom became a lot sweeter after she was done going through the change of life. We get along really well now.

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      • Fabelle

        Fabelle May 6, 2013, 10:50 am

        Yeah, it was definitely crazy. I think I remember understanding(?) but that didn’t make it easier to control when either of us were having a “moment”, haha.

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      • avatar

        BreezyAM May 6, 2013, 4:28 pm

        It’s no fun from the mom perspective. I know what’s up and there’s something really …humiliating in a way? about watching her blossom into this beautiful young woman while I’m paranoid I’m about to turn into an evil troll witch. I realize my fear is entirely irrational, especially as I’ve got lots of great role models for women livin’ just fine post menopause… but I’ve still got it. Feel very mutton dressed as lamb… JEALOUSY! That’s what it is. There is absolutely a tinge of jealousy to our (me and my daughter’s) interactions. I suppress it as much as I can because I know it’s not cool but it’s absolutely there.

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  • avatar

    TECH May 6, 2013, 9:29 am

    I love Wendy’s response here. LW, life gets really unfair when you get older. I wish you could appreciate what you have now. You are so lucky to be in college, have parents who love you (and are doing the right thing by you), and a boyfriend you care about. I was away for the weekend visiting my college roommate and we talked about how we felt when we were your age.

    Everything was so dramatic back then. We were both depressed at the time (mostly because we were away at college and homesick.) Relationships with guys felt so hard, school felt so hard, and we had no idea what the future held. But looking back on it we both know how much simpler our lives were back then, and how lucky we were. We both agreed we’d love to revisit that time in a heartbeat. Appreciate how simple your life is right now.

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  • avatar

    MissDre May 6, 2013, 9:29 am

    I went through the same thing. My brother also had girls sleeping over in high school and just ignored his curfew until everyone just pretended the curfew never existed in the first place… but even when I was 19 I had to be home by dark and had a million other rules and if I told my mom I wasn’t going out with a boy she’d freak out.

    At age 19 I told my mom I was moving out, and she told me I was too young and wasn’t mature enough to handle it. But I found my own place, made all my own arrangements and left. She barely spoke to me for 6 months while she dealt with her “empty nest” issues.

    Even when I was 22, had been living in another city for grad school and came home for the holidays, there was a big fight about me being allowed to have my boyfriend sleep over at the house during Christmas (again, even though my brother had been having random girls sleep over since he was 16).

    It’s hard sometimes when your parents forget that you aren’t their little baby anymore. I’m 27 and my mom still calls to remind me to renew my driver’s license and other things I’m perfectly capable of remembering on my own. There’s pretty much nothing you can do except prove that you’re an adult by moving out and living independently. Until then, you just have to deal with your parents and be grateful that you’re getting financial help.

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    • avatar

      kerrycontrary May 6, 2013, 9:33 am

      haha I love/hate when my mom texts me “did you pay your rent”. Hm….been paying my rent since I was 20, so yes I can remember that it’s the first of the month.

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    • avatar

      MissDre May 6, 2013, 9:45 am

      errrr… if I told my mom I WAS* going out with a boy… typing too fast

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    • avatar

      Temperance May 6, 2013, 11:18 am

      I did the same thing. My parents gave me a curfew and demanded to know where I was at all times – to the point where I wasn’t “allowed” to sleep over anywhere, lest I have sex with any boy ever or something. This was even in college, after I was 21.

      My solution was to stop spending time staying at their house, ever. I haven’t slept over there in probably 9 years now.

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      • avatar

        MissDre May 6, 2013, 12:00 pm

        Lucky for me my mom got over it. I’m living at home again now and my boyfriend sleeps over all the time. Now when I go stay at his place she’s sad because she misses him and wants to see him, and she keeps asking me when we’re going to have babies (answer… when we have a house and I no longer have to live at home while paying off student loans).

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      • avatar

        temperance May 6, 2013, 6:13 pm

        Ah, my mother never quite got over it, but she’s an evangelical Christian and she hated that we lived together for so long before we got married (to the point of lying about it to anyone who asked about me, haha).

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    • KKZ

      KKZ May 6, 2013, 6:07 pm

      My mom texts/emails me and my brother every time bad weather is coming. As if there’s something we can do about it. I never know how to respond because the only responses that come to my mind are really snarky.

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  • avatar

    lets_be_honest May 6, 2013, 9:40 am

    Gosh, you guys all sound like old farts. Back in my day, I had to walk uphill both ways! Just kidding (sorta). I agree with Wendy.

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  • avatar

    ebstarr May 6, 2013, 9:49 am

    I don’t think parents who enforce sexism on their own kids deserve to say “My house, my rules.” I agree with Wendy that in the grand scheme of things, parents who put up a fuss about you going away with your boyfriend — but let you go anyway — are not a big deal, even if they didn’t put up a fuss about another sibling. But ugh, parents who treat their daughter’s sexuality like it’s shameful or dangerous, when their son is allowed to grow up on his own sans all the fuss? I think that’s a huge deal! You should stand up for yourself and insist on an honest conversation about this; maybe your parents could stand to learn a thing or two, too.

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    • avatar

      ebstarr May 6, 2013, 9:51 am

      Also, though, maybe they put up a fuss because you let them? Instead of saying “Can I go away with my boyfriend,” just inform them that you’re going out of town. You are an adult. They can either let you go, or kick you out, you know? But they can’t *stop* you.

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    • avatar

      GatorGirl May 6, 2013, 10:03 am

      It could not be based on sexism. It could be that the LW is 19, going to community college, and never left the house and the sibling is 22, I beleive a college graduate and has lived on his own before. They are at pretty different life stages/maturity levels.

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      • avatar

        ebstarr May 6, 2013, 10:31 am

        Oh, totally. Maybe she’s just the baby, maybe she’s really immature, whatever, but that’s why I suggested an honest conversation, to find out what their real reasons are for freaking out.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest May 6, 2013, 10:39 am

        Ugh, thank you.

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      • avatar

        ele4phant May 6, 2013, 11:17 am

        I don’t understand how someone living away from home but not facing any responsibilities like bills or working is supposed to make them mature. You know what I did when I was 21 and just going to school while someone else paid my rent? Going out on random Tuesdays and blowing off morning classes because getting up before ten seemed too hard.

        To me, the 19 year old who chooses to stay home, attend a community college and get a job so she won’t have to take out loans when she transfers to a four year school sounds pretty darn mature to me. More mature than I was until I graduated an had to support myself at 22.

        Mature enough to demand of her parents she can do whatever she wants? Eh maybe not, but living outside of the home is not a good metric to measure maturity, at least not on its own.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest May 6, 2013, 11:24 am

        I feel like you learn a lot just by living at college. Sure, not as much as the avg. adult living in their own home & supporting themselves, but still they do learn some.

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      • avatar

        ele4phant May 6, 2013, 11:33 am

        But you also learn a lot by making a hard decision (stay with parents and save money vs taking out loans and living on your own) and having to be accountable to an employer also build maturity. Look is she a full fledged adult? Maybe not, but I have to give her credit here. It sounds like she’s making decisions that could affect her “fun” so that her long term future is more secure. To me that speaks to a lot of maturity for a 19 year old. On its own, living outside of the home without parents or responsible can build some maturity, sure, but so can what she’s doing.

        I don’t think the recent college grad who is jus starting to figure out how to self support has that much of a leg up on her, maturity-wise.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest May 6, 2013, 11:35 am

        Oh sure, I think its a mature decision.

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      • Fabelle

        Fabelle May 6, 2013, 11:42 am

        I dunno, this is probably based on my personal experience of living at school BUT I actually feel as though college dorm life is very much a false environment—like, you’re living in a bubble. It’s not really reality. Sure, there might be more freedom, but often it’s the freedom of being IRresponsible.

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      • avatar

        ele4phant May 6, 2013, 12:13 pm

        Yep I can only speak to my personal experience, but I don’t think I really grew that much as a person until the year or two following college graduation where I actually had to work myself to pay my bills.

        During college all I really had to worry about was passing my classes and remembering to go to the store once in a while. I guess you could argue I had to learn how to budget as my parents transferred me money on a weekly basis, but if I ever screwed up and ran out early, my dad would transfer me more. Otherwise I just had fun for four years.

        Who knows what the brother’s story is: maybe he was going to school on loans and scholarships and had to manage his own financial aid, maybe he is just a more innately mature person. But I do know if you compared 22 year old me to 19 year old LW she wins by a mile.

        So it’s odd too me some commenters are accusing her of getting a free ride off her parents, she had made a mature deliberate decision for the benefit of her future at the expense of her immediate circumstances.

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      • avatar

        ele4phant May 6, 2013, 12:15 pm

        Monthly basis, I used to get money once a month

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest May 6, 2013, 12:19 pm

        I agree that its a mature/responsible decision, but its factually a mature decision to get a free ride off her parents, which is exactly what she’s doing.

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      • avatar

        ele4phant May 6, 2013, 12:27 pm

        Is she though? She works part time, she could be paying rent.

        Or she could be shouldering more responsibilities like cooking or cleaning than she did when she was in high school. Just because she’s living there at a reduced (or even monetarily non-existent) rate doesn’t mean she’s dead weight in the household and her parents are getting nothing out of it on their end.

        Ultimately I agree under their roof they get to control what goes on. But once she steps outside of those four walls they need to loosen up their restrictions on her.

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        lets_be_honest May 6, 2013, 12:29 pm

        Chipping in on household duties while paying nothing (as a child in the home, not a SAHM!) is just being a reasonable person. It doesn’t scream mature adult to me.

        Its possible she’s paying rent, and if she is then my opinion changes a bit.

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      • avatar

        ele4phant May 6, 2013, 12:40 pm

        If she’s not paying rent she definitely should be – even if its something trivial like a hundred bucks a month. Not that that would make her a full partner in the home an allowed to do whatever she wants, but maybe it would help her parents stop seeing her as a kid in their house and start seeing her as a quasi grownup capable of taking on responsibilities (and by extension some of those adult freedoms too)

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom May 6, 2013, 3:23 pm

        I think she’s being mature too. She’s putting off the short term gratification of being on her own and doing whatever she wants so that she doesn’t burden her long term with unnecessary debt. She sounds wise and mature to me.

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      • findingtheearth

        findingtheearth May 6, 2013, 11:01 am

        I got the feeling that maybe she is in a different country/ethnicity where possibly daughters are more regulated than sons. I sometimes feel that info is lacking from letters and could change some perspective.

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      • avatar

        Temperance May 6, 2013, 11:26 am

        Eh, I’m American and my parents are like this (except for the part where they were helping me out with anything, haha). My guess was that they are conservative Christians.

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    • katie

      Katie May 6, 2013, 10:16 am

      I completely agree, sexism isn’t ok coming from anyone-even parents.

      I’ll also add, I don’t think parents deserve to do any of these behaviors because they can’t handle thier “little baby” is growing up either… In that situation, it’s the parents who really need to grow up. It’s sad to see how much parenting has deteriorated over past generations. But, such is life, I guess.

      Your parents need to get a grip, LW, totally, but you can’t just make them. You can try, you can have discussions, you can do certain things, but ultimately, if your parents won’t let go you are going to have to make them. Which means moving out and doing everything on your own.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom May 6, 2013, 10:27 am

        Parents have always worried about and protected their daughters. That isn’t anything new for this generation.

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      • katie

        Katie May 6, 2013, 10:33 am

        No, I was referencing the relatively new helicopter parent. That is particularly sad to see happening to people…

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest May 6, 2013, 10:35 am

        Being worried your teenaged daughter is going to get pregnant isn’t exactly helicopter parenting.

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      • katie

        Katie May 6, 2013, 10:40 am

        I never even mentioned that…?

        I’m talking about thier parenting overall- very controlling of day to day activities. That’s, like, helicopter parenting 101.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest May 6, 2013, 10:54 am

        Oh, just assumed you were talking about these parents and how they are protective of the LW.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom May 6, 2013, 10:58 am

        So did I and I don’t see their parenting as helicopter parenting.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest May 6, 2013, 11:07 am

        Ok, so I guess I’m just not understanding why these parents need to get a grip. They have a 19 y/o living under their roof, who they are supporting and therefore expect that child to obey their house rules. Unless you mean they should get a grip by realizing she’s 19 and should be supporting herself, I don’t know what they need a grip on.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl May 6, 2013, 11:13 am

        I concur.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom May 6, 2013, 11:18 am

        I agree.

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      • avatar

        lemongrass May 6, 2013, 11:36 am

        Yup. House rules aren’t guidelines and it isn’t up to the children to set them. I’m sure the parents have more than one reason why they set the rules up and those reasons are theirs to choose. The LW has the right to ask why the rules are the way they are but frankly, if someone is paying for your ass to eat, sleep, and live then you don’t get the right to demand that they change their rules for you. If you were getting a free rental that says no pets, would you march up to the landlord and demand to be able to have a pet?

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom May 6, 2013, 3:26 pm

        I know, from being a parent and being friends with parents, that sometimes the rules are also for the benefit of the parent. A curfew can be as much about getting the kid home at a time that allows the parents to get a good nights sleep because they can’t just turn off being parents as it is about protecting the child.

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        ele4phant May 6, 2013, 4:22 pm

        Demand from my landlord that I have a pet, no. Approach them with the idea and an offer to pay additional money and renegotiate the lease? Yes, I might do that. The former would be the approach of a petulant child, the latter a reasonable request from a grown-up. Of course the landlord could say no, of course, but I could move out, and if I really wanted I could break the lease to move out early while suffering some financial consequences.

        The same holds for the LW. As an adult she should be able to negotiate with her parents about the terms of her living there, if she does so in a reasonable and mature way. She may not get what she wants, and there may be consequences, but she doesn’t have to just suck it up and accept unreasonable terms.

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        ebstarr May 6, 2013, 10:45 am

        Yeah, I’d say it’s depressing that over-protecting girls HASN’T gone away for this generation. Especially since if parents raised their son with some amount of maturity/responsibility, his getting a girl pregnant could majorly derail his life as well.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom May 6, 2013, 3:30 pm

        You could see this as the parents favoring the daughter because they care more about her and her future than they do about their son and his future.

        I’ve known kids whose parents pretty much ignored them and let them do whatever, whenever and the kids felt lonely and unwanted. I knew a woman who moved out of her parent’s home for her senior year of high school, to live with her boyfriend, because she felt so unwanted and neglected because her parents were never home and never seemed to care about her. She said she would eat her dinner alone every night with the TV and cry because she was lonely when she was sixteen. At seventeen she left.

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      • avatar

        ebstarr May 6, 2013, 4:05 pm

        Agreed, neglect is worse than strictness. I think in this case, though, it’s pretty clear that the daughter is not favored and the brother is not neglected. She says her mother is controlling; if we take this at face value, which I’m inclined to do because stopping a 19-year-old from spending the night out of the house is inherently controlling, then her parents have obviously picked her as the easiest, because closest, target for their control. It also sounds like they may have paid more for her brother’s education, but it’s hard to tell from the letter.

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  • Jess

    Jess May 6, 2013, 10:01 am

    I’m not piling on any more tough love on LW but I did want to say that, wow, does this accurately describe my late 20s!!!!! Exactly, exactly, exactly.

    “you’re 27 and heartbroken cause you just got dumped and even the sight of an envelope in the mail sends you into panic-mode because you’re afraid it’s a bill and the last time you checked you had $118 in your bank account and you don’t get paid for another ten days and there’s nothing in your kitchen but a half-empty box of stale Wheat Thins and a couple bottles of Miller Lite.”

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    • avatar

      Slamy May 6, 2013, 10:44 am

      I’m 25 and this describes my life right now, today.

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      • Jess

        Jess May 6, 2013, 12:38 pm

        It will get better! Maybe not in one fell swoop and maybe not in a permanent, “never look back” way, –for me it was more of a “two steps forward, one step back” kind of progression– but it will definitely improve.

        Part of it is getting a better grip on your finances, like getting the courage to call and have a late fee removed, taking on another roommate, or getting really saavy with cheap groceries. And some of it is the natural progression of salary that I HOPE Gen Y will get to experience. Of course, finding a life partner makes a big difference too. I was late to arrive on that milestone but I appreciate it all that much more as a result. Pooling resources and helping each other out when one of you hits a financial snag (car repair, dental bill, surprise from the IRS!) is such a gift.

        I wish I had a crystal ball during those darker times. If I’d know with certainty that I’d have love and stability in my 30s, I think I would have slept a lot better in my 20s.

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  • avatar

    shanshantastic May 6, 2013, 10:09 am

    LW, I did two years of community college before transferring. I lived at home, and nine years later I still shake my head every once in awhile about the fights that my mom and I would have about boundaries, “rules”, etc. I chafed at the feeling that my freedom was restricted, while I’m sure she was upset that I wasn’t showing proper respect for everything that she did for me.

    And you know what? I’m staring 27 in the face. I’m less than 6 weeks away from my due date with our first child. The bills keep coming, and just yesterday I found myself thinking about how much easier I had it when I lived with my mom and everything was taken care of. I’m very happy with where I am right now but Wendy and the others are right – there is a price or trade-off for everything, and you may find yourself waxing nostalgic about things that now seem like such a “big deal”.

    Sit down with your parents and have a calm (let me say that again – CALM) discussion in which you share your feelings and TRY TO UNDERSTAND where they’re coming from. Maybe their reasons are completely valid, or maybe they’re complete unfair, but if you can shift your perspective and focus on the benefits of your situation then perhaps the pitfalls will become less of a big deal in the long run.

    Good luck and remember, it won’t last forever.

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    • avatar

      AmyP May 6, 2013, 12:15 pm

      “And you know what? I’m staring 27 in the face. I’m less than 6 weeks away from my due date with our first child. The bills keep coming, and just yesterday I found myself thinking about how much easier I had it when I lived with my mom and everything was taken care of.”

      I’m in my later thirties, with a husband and 3 kids. Life is really expensive–mortgage or rent, property tax, home maintenance, electricity, natural gas, water, phone, internet, groceries, gasoline, car insurance, life insurance, health insurance, medical copays and deductibles, diapers, baby wipes, baby food, etc. We have the money for all of it, but it’s mind-blowing how much just the basics cost.

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  • avatar

    muffy May 6, 2013, 10:18 am

    LW I’m the eldest, not the baby, and yet I am treated completely differently than my three brothers. It’s definitely a gender thing.
    The downsides: I went away to university and am away at law school (just graduated!!!) and I have always had a job since I was 15. Despite that whenever I come home I have a curfew, I have to help with the dishes, I have to take care of my sister (she is much younger than the rest of us) etc.. My brothers do none of these things ever. Also when my boyfriends came and visited over the years they slept in a room that was on the other side of the house and were reminded by my dad that we have video surveillance in the house (we actually do). I was never allowed to go to parties in high school yet my brothers were allowed to throw parties at our house. I get the unfairness and how it sucks sometimes and I definitely got in arguments with my parents over it.

    I just deal with it and I love coming home, even with all the rules for me. I think when you move out eventually you will see how nice coming home feels as opposed to living on your own. Someone does your laundry, cooks your meals (and they are always delicious), someone pays for awesome satellite with HBO. And who knows – maybe once you move out your parents will be much more lenient with you when you come back home anyways (like maybe it’s an age thing, or never having left the house thing). For now, just try and deal with it and save some money to move out if you want much more freedom.

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    • findingtheearth

      findingtheearth May 6, 2013, 11:03 am

      my parents are divorced and I remember staying with my dad a few times in college instead of my mom and he had a curfew of midnight, especially after I was 21. It never really bothered me, but my mom is the complete opposite, and I lived with her after college for awhile.

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  • Lindsay

    Lindsay May 6, 2013, 10:23 am

    Everyone else has covered the basics, so I’ll just add a couple more things. One, there’s a lot more to not getting a baby than just not wanting one. I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you know how to prevent getting pregnant, but there are a lot of people who don’t want to get pregnant who do regardless, so it’s not irrational for your parents to be worried about that. When I lived with my parents the summer after freshman year of college, I wouldn’t have been allowed to stay the night at a boyfriend’s house, either, but that didn’t strike me as weird because I was in their home and I was also only 19. I also doubt I ever would have been allowed to do so as a college student of any age because there’s something about being in school that makes you seem (at least to your parents) like a kid more than an adult. Which sort of makes sense to me. Also, many parents are sexist in their rules, but your situation and your brother’s situation is completely different. If you choose to talk to your parents about this, I wouldn’t pull the “this is unfair” and “he gets to do it” cards because they’re going to think you’re a child.

    Anyway, the other thing is that I assume you have, what, one more year of community college left? I know a year seems like a long time when you’re 19, but you’ll have many more years than that to do what you want.

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  • Miel

    Miel May 6, 2013, 10:25 am

    I agree with everyone about “your parents’ house, their rules”, because really, if you want to continue living there rent free, it’s the only way to keep a peaceful relationship. I’m 22, still living with my parents (although moving out soon because of grad school), and we have a very good relationship. And, unlike ALL my other friends who chose to move out at 20 years old, I have lots of savings. So for grad school, the financial ride should actually be easy.

    But that’s because I stayed at my parents’ house, I respected them and their rules, and we built a strong relationship as adults living under the same roof (and not only as parents-daughter). My advice would actually be to sit calmly with your parents (or just your mom, or just your dad, depending who you feel the most comfortable one), and discuss why they have certain rules you dislike them, and why you dislike them. And do that while there is no immediate plan for your to see your boyfriend or anything, to show you’re not about to “break” one of their rule. And then have those conversation regularly if things don’t improve.

    If you show them you’re a mature young women, that understand the rules, and show she can be responsible, stay safe, and be respectful to them, life should be easier.
    (By the way, the first time I asked if my boyfriend could come spend the night here, they couldn’t say no. Because I had proven how serious, prepared and responsible I was about all of this, I had talked to them about this months in advance. And they respected my judgement.)

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  • avatar

    AliceInDairyland May 6, 2013, 9:27 am

    Wendy, although I agree with your concept I am a little bit disappointed at how it came across. Don’t negate someone else’s problems by saying that you had it bad at 27 and how you only had $118 in your checking account. I am sure I could then go ahead and give you a third example of how hard someone else has it compared to your example and on and on and on. I think a big reason that the LW is deciding to live at home now is so she ISN’T you at 27 having panic attacks about bills and eating wheat thins. She is prioritizing and being smart about the situation (along with being incredibly lucky to be able to make those smart decisions) and I don’t think that a one-upping response is necessary.

    That said I do agree with your response. If she is living under her parents’ roof she will have to play by their rules, and unfortunately life is unfair. Fight the patriarchy calmly while also looking out for yourself, LW. If I were you, I would have one sit down where you explain very calmly and rationally that although you understand that their house means their rules you do notice that they treat have treated your brother differently and that it hurts you that they don’t trust you the way they apparently have trusted him. If you can do that in a calm way, and accept whatever answer they give, I think that’s a safe bet.

    (PS sorry Wendy, I don’t want that to come off rude at all I just really disagree about how you went about the response and want to give my perspective. I always love your advice and hope it was constructive criticism!)

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    • avatar

      TECH May 6, 2013, 9:34 am

      I don’t think Wendy was “one-upping” in her response. I think her point, as she says, is “maybe it’s unfair, but trust me, this will be one of the easier examples of life being unfair that you’ll have to deal with in your lifetime.” The fact of the matter is that a 19 year old college student living with her parents’ rules has a lot to learn in life. The LW is so incredibly lucky to be living with parents who care about her and going to college etc.

      What this LW needs is perspective, which is something only time can give her. But Wendy is just trying to give her a little dose of it.

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    • avatar

      csp May 6, 2013, 9:35 am

      But the LW is prioritizing on her parents’ dime. Wendy is trying to point out that when you get the “freedom” you also get all the bills and restrictions. It isn’t glamourous on the other side.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Wendy May 6, 2013, 10:07 am

      Wait, what? I never said the example of a 27-year-old with $110 in her checking account was ME. I was implying it could be the LW one day.

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      • avatar

        AliceInDairyland May 6, 2013, 11:50 am

        Ahhh sorry Wendy, I guess I just assumed it was a personal example from your life.

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  • findingtheearth

    findingtheearth May 6, 2013, 10:37 am

    I graduated college and moved home to help my mom who was doing poorly health wise. I worked, paid her bills, paid my bills, and am in a lot of debt for it. She attempted to lay down some laws, but my parents had always been pretty free with rules and regulations. I did not have a curfew once I turned 17, so they just kind of let it go.

    However, LW, life is hard. Be very thankful your parents are helping you out to this degree. I am the example in this letter – life can be tough and throw curveballs. This way, hopefully, you won’t have any debt and can enter the work force with a clean slate.

    Seriously, you are 19. Be responsible. Be thankful. You have an opportunity many would love to have – take it, and if it means not staying the night at your boyfriends house, that is what it means. In the end, is it really that big of a deal?

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  • avatar

    Sue Jones May 6, 2013, 10:40 am

    I remember being 27 (why that age? I dunno, Wendy brought it up…) and being out of money one summer during med school because I had to work so many clinic shifts for my degree that I couldn’t work many hours at my summer p/t job. I lived for a week or 2 on plums from the tree outside my apartment, an old bag of rice, and my boyfriend at the time’s kindness ( he took me out to dinner once or twice – he was a great guy). I couldn’t even afford to put gas in my old beater car… Glad those days are over!

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  • othy

    othy May 6, 2013, 10:46 am

    I used to to think that my parents treated my brother and me differently because he was a boy and I was a girl. For instance, his curfew for prom night was to be home in time for church the next day (which he wasn’t). Mine was midnight. However, as I’ve grown older, I realized that it wasn’t the boy/girl thing, but a matter of respect. I respected my parents’ wishes, and was home in time for curfew, so I had one. He didn’t care, was always home late, and got away with a lot. However, during those years, I had a much better relationship with our parents. It wasn’t until my brother was in his late 20s that he finally started getting along well with our folks. Of course, I’ve always been close to my family, because I respected their rules/boundaries, and I’ve never regretted it.

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    • Lindsay

      Lindsay May 6, 2013, 11:21 am

      That’s a good point. My friend was just describing how her mother always fawns over her brother’s Mother’s Day presents, even when they aren’t wrapped and are ridiculous, and sort of ignore’s my friend’s, which are in fancy paper and well thought out. It’s because he’s kind of a man-child, so him bringing a gift is a miracle in itself. I feel like it’s often the same thing when parents give one child more financial help than the other; they simply assume the other child is happy enough to be independent.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest May 6, 2013, 11:30 am

        lol, I asked Peter to wrap a gift for his nephew a few weekends ago. I figured this was easy, since it was a box shape and we have a wrapping area in our home with plenty of wrap, tape, scissors, etc. Easy peasy, right? I didn’t ask to see it before we left for the party. It was wrapped in USED Christmas paper which he apparently ran out of and used USED colored on construction paper for the other half of the box. Of course, his mom thought it was the most adorable thing ever and ‘how sweet that he tried.’

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        MissDre May 6, 2013, 12:03 pm

        My boyfriend gives pretty good presents…. but I don’t think he ever wraps them. Guys don’t seem to care much about that sort of thing. He’s not into cards either.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest May 6, 2013, 12:05 pm

        Same here, good gift picker, crappy wrapper.

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      • Lindsay

        Lindsay May 6, 2013, 2:03 pm

        Hahaha. That’s awesome.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom May 6, 2013, 3:55 pm

        Too funny!

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    • avatar

      temperance May 6, 2013, 6:25 pm

      Shouldn’t they have treated you better, since you actually followed the rules? It doesn’t seem fair to treat you badly or make you have ridiculous rules because you’ll follow them.

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  • avatar

    j2 May 6, 2013, 10:50 am

    WWS!

    Still, I might add that there is a natural progression:

    1) You live under their roof and are not financially independent – they make the rules and are in control
    2) You live away, but are not financially independent – they make some rules and have some control
    3) You live away and are financially independent – no one can make rules or have control
    4) You live away, are financially independent, and have their grandkids – you make the rules and have control

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  • avatar

    ele4phant May 6, 2013, 10:58 am

    I dunno, I kind of disagree here. Yes I do believe in “their rules, their house”, but if her parents are trying to control what she does outside of their house that’s not appropriate anymore. A rule about the boyfriend not spending the night? Okay, that’s reasonable. A rule or restriction on her going to spend the night at HIS place (or somewhere else that isn’t under the roof)? Not reasonable for a 19 year old.

    Unfortunately I do agree there’s not a lot of room for her to maneuver here. I guess she could try to have an adult conversation with them, but I doubt they’d be receptive. I guess my suggestion is see if you can’t get a few more hours at work an move out sooner rather than later.

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  • avatar

    Temperance May 6, 2013, 11:10 am

    If your parents are willing to pay tuition and room/board, why did you stay at home with them instead of getting some freedom? My guess is your bf.

    Start applying to universities now, get some distance from them, and learn how to take care of yourself.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom May 6, 2013, 11:16 am

      If her parents are paying tuition and room and board then she really isn’t taking care of herself even if she is away from home.

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      • avatar

        Temperance May 6, 2013, 11:31 am

        You’re not wrong, but it’s still closer to the “adult” spectrum to be making her own choices, setting her own schedule, cleaning up after herself, etc.

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      • Fabelle

        Fabelle May 6, 2013, 11:39 am

        How, though? I mean, like ele4phant said in another thread above—she’s actually taking quite good care of herself ~now~, & I’m sure she’s learned a lot by making financially sound decisions while being in school AND working (which her brother is not doing). And maybe “freedom” wasn’t worth the feeling of being indebted to her parents (if she were to have lived away at school).

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      • avatar

        Temperance May 6, 2013, 12:43 pm

        Maybe for her, it wasn’t worth it. It sounds like she resents the tight leash they have around her, and I don’t blame her – my parents are similar, except they had a lot of expectations for me but they didn’t financially help me in any way and actually expected me to help support the household once I turned 18. I left, obviously, and it still pisses me off to see that they gave my brother his own car to use while I wasn’t even allowed to buy my own, because they wanted to approve all of my movements.

        There is a big difference between living with your parents and not, even if she is working and being responsible.

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      • avatar

        ele4phant May 6, 2013, 1:05 pm

        Ha! When I was living in the dorms (with my tuition abd board paid for) my decisions were pretty immature, and the “schedule” I set for myself included partying any night of the week and trying to make half my classes.

        For me college was this wonderful time when I had all of the adult freedoms and none of the responsibilities. I learned a little bit academically and managed to come out with very few life skills. My first few post college years had a steep learning curve, to say the least.

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      • avatar

        temperance May 6, 2013, 6:06 pm

        Ah fair enough. My experience was pretty different – I definitely had fun and partied, but I had to work and do a lot to take care of myself (work and pay all my bills, etc.) because my parents didn’t contribute anything.

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      ele4phant May 6, 2013, 11:21 am

      Maybe they didn’t pay for her brothers schooling though? Maybe he took out tens of thousands of dollars in loans which she’d like to avoid?

      Or maybe the college fund for her was invested in stocks that tanked over the last couple of years and there’s not really any money left for her?

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      • avatar

        Temperance May 6, 2013, 11:29 am

        She said in her letter that he didn’t have a job or have to pay for tuition, so I assumed the parents took care of it. You could be right about the college fund money being spent beforehand though, whether it be on the brother or lost in the market crash. (My gut feeling is that they spent it on him, but I could be wrong.)

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  • Lyra

    L May 6, 2013, 11:12 am

    So…I’m 25 and have already done the whole “live with the parents” thing…and I’m headed BACK to that in a couple weeks thanks to me resigning from my job (by choice, for my own happiness). I still have to follow their rules. I still tell them where I’m going. I still give them an estimate of when I’ll be home. When I was in high school it drove me crazy but now that I’m older I see that they were truly only trying to help me out. They’re more lax about things now since I’m obviously older and much much much wiser. But I found that after a few years of following their rules in high school they became much more understanding and let up on their rules a bit. And now my parents are more my friends because I’ve grown up and because they see me as a mature adult. But I do still put up with my dad’s incessant need to help and give me advice — it’s annoying but I know he does it because he cares.

    I guess my point here is that they’re just helping you out. Yeah it sucks that their rules are more lax with your older brother but as Wendy pointed out, you’re still only 19. There’s PLENTY of time for doing whatever the hell you want later on in life. You’ll thank yourself later for saving money by living with your folks, guaranteed.

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    lemongrass May 6, 2013, 11:45 am

    One of the benefits that there is for earning money and paying for a household is that you get to set the house rules. You will get that when you move out and you will enjoy it then. Right now though your parents pay and they get to set the rules.

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      ele4phant May 6, 2013, 12:18 pm

      House rules, sure. They have every right to specify what is and is not okay within the four walls of their home. Outside of their home though, the girl is over 18 and can do what she wants, whether that means spend the night elsewhere or go on a weekend trip

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        lets_be_honest May 6, 2013, 12:20 pm

        And they can just as easily cut her off if she chooses to do that.

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      • Fabelle

        Fabelle May 6, 2013, 12:22 pm

        But that would be a bit of an unreasonable action to take, no?

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest May 6, 2013, 12:30 pm

        Sure, just pointing out that its possible.

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      • avatar

        ele4phant May 6, 2013, 12:31 pm

        Yep they sure could. I don’t think it’s reasonable for them to try to control an adult child’s actions outside their home, but it’s they can control their home and if they don’t like her choices they can kick her out (or stop giving her money).

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      • avatar

        Amber May 6, 2013, 1:18 pm

        But it sounds like this is a mutually beneficial arrangement – she lives at home, they don’t have to fork over so much money for tuition and room/board.

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  • avatar

    Sheryl May 6, 2013, 11:45 am

    I think I’m with a lot of the commenters, that “my house, my rules” has some validity, but it doesn’t mean that her parents should not be starting to treat her like the adult she is.

    I struggled with my parents the first few years of college (luckily, I did go away to school, so it was only when I was home for breaks/ summer when it became an issue), and by the time i moved back home immediately after college, I think we had a pretty good arrangement.

    I think you should start by having a frank discussion with your parents and talk about realistic expectations for both of you… Are they paying for everything? If so, start to pick up your own tab — cell phone, credit cards, car insurance, so they have less control overall (and will help you realize just how much you need to go out completely on your own). In addition, contribute to the household in adult ways — clean / do chores/ cover meals/ food occasionally, so they can’t say you are getting a ‘free ride”, and they start to appreciate having a younger pair of legs around to help with day to day stuff…it will be a better bargaining chip if they don’t easily compromise.

    Also, as far as the boyfriend issue, try to get to your mom without your dad present. Dad’s tend to be way more overprotective of their little girls when guys are concerned — my mom did a lot of lobbying for me behind the scenes if I wanted to go somewhere or stay over my bf’s house. My dad never “liked/approved it”, but he started to deal with it, and just didn’t ask questions. Also, my bf was not allowed to sleep over at my parents house, and that was something that was annoying, but ultimately reasonable.

    In summary, start acting more like an adult, and they will have no choice but to start treating you like an adult. And if all else fails, sorry, but you’ll have to weigh paying for an apartment on your own vs the absence of freedom for a few more years!! — good luck!

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      mf May 6, 2013, 12:52 pm

      Yes, I agree 100%. She does have the responsibility of following her parents, but her parents do need to treat her like an adult. It should be an even trade-off between both parties. I like your advice about picking up the tab for her own things and helping out around the house. And yes, my dad was overprotective too, so there were times when my mom did advocate for me when she thought he was being unreasonable.

      LW, I would also add that if/when you sit down to discuss this with your parents, you can try presenting them with specific scenarios and ask them why they feel the way they do. For example, “Mom and Dad, you said you didn’t feel comfortable with me going on a day trip with BOYFRIEND to X LOCATION this weekend. Can you explain your reservations to me? Why does it bother you?”

      I used this tactic with my parents when I lived at home as a young adult (between 19 and 22). It can accomplish a couple of things… First of all, if they have to explain their reasons to you and they don’t have any reasons that are actually, you know, REASONABLE, that will become painfully obvious right away. Secondly, if you can understand why they feel the way they do, you will be better equipped to come up with ideas for negotiating. So if their response to the scenario above is, “Well, we’re afraid you’ll do something stupid and get pregnant,” then you can say, “Would it make you feel better if BOYFRIEND and I went on this day trip with a bunch of friends? That way it’s not just the two of us.” Also, if you can demonstrate to your parents that you want to understand their point of view, that demonstrates a lot of maturity. You will earn their respect if you show them you’re willing to listen.

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    • katie

      Katie May 6, 2013, 1:32 pm

      Yes, this exactly.

      The continued/extended childhood in the name of a parents own unwillingness (it’s my baby!) and/or “my house, my rules” does nothing positive for anyone, up to and including society at large. This is what I meant about the deterioration of parenting- for some reason parents cannot get over a child’s childhood and transition into a child’s adult life.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom May 6, 2013, 3:52 pm

        The LW is in an extended adolescence which we have in this country because of our extended schooling. Three of my four grandparents finished school at the age of 14 and started working full time. At that point they functioned as adults. That’s why there was an eighth grade graduation because it was the end of formal education for most kids. My parents finished high school and started working at the age of 18. This is very much a result of our society and our need for extensive education.

        Today it drags out because the child needs to stay in school to get ahead and that keeps them financially dependent for years which literally keeps them from being an independent adult. When someone else is providing your food, shelter, transportation and health insurance you are nowhere near being independent. So telling your parents that you’re now and adult and can do what you want doesn’t carry much weight with them because they know how dependent you are because they are the ones carrying the load.

        These parents aren’t keeping the LW at home under lock and key. She is going to school and working and I assume she is driving a car provided by the parents. She does go out and they are probably comfortable with her going out in a group and with her friends but less comfortable with her spending large amounts of time with the boyfriend. I agree that she could easily get pregnant while out with the boyfriend while on an evening date or an afternoon outing unless she knows what she is doing and is vigilant with birth control if sexually active. You can assume the parents know that too. They almost certainly want her to be independent as soon as possible which is part of the reason for the comment about not wanting to become grandparents at this time. They really want her to be independent as soon as possible. They probably are waiting for her to finish school before they do other things with their lives. They might want an early retirement. They might want to do a lot more traveling but feel that they owe it to her to be there for her until she is done with school. They might want her finished and living on her own so that they can have more privacy in their own home and be able to do things like have sex anywhere in the house they want, whenever they want. Having a child at home does put a damper on your life in many ways.

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      • katie

        katie May 6, 2013, 9:14 pm

        i know that you are stuck on the pregnancy thing, but this situation is so much larger then getting pregnant- we are talking about a whole person, who is being stunted in their emotional/personal/whatever growth and independence because her parents cant let go, whether out of fear or whatever- it doesnt really even matter why. in my opinion, that is a much, much worse problem. that problem effects many more people.

        the one and ONLY job a parent has is to take a helpless child and aid them into becoming an independent adult. this is a very important job, because our society is made up of those adults. those adults form our world. but, by definition, that means that at some point the child must start making their own choices. that means that at some point, the parents have to step back, let go, and watch their baby birds fly. thats life, thats the cycle. so, in our society, we have decided that 18 is the arbitrary age at which to have this happen, and while ill grant you that not every person is “ready” or able at 18 to be responsible as an adult… this child is ASKING for it. she wants it. she doesnt want to be a child, she wants to start dabbling in the adult world… and what better time to start giving some of that independence then while your *adult* child is still at home, where there would (hopefully) not be financial repercussion of mistakes? what better time to encourage a little flight, while your *adult* child is still at home, around you, able to speak with you and ask for guidance at any point? what better time, when they are ACTUALLY ASKING FOR IT?

        why are we punishing our children for doing what every child is *supposed* to do? why are we stifling growth in the name of keeping our children children? why has parenting become the equivalent of playing with a doll, where as long as a parent can control their child and their day to day activities, they are living under the false reality that their kid is a good, adjusted person? thats not reality. keeping your children children, and taking away their autonomy, their ability to make decisions, is the absolute worse thing a parent can do. that is the worst parenting failure, because, like i said- that is your only job as a parent. the GOAL is to have a child who is ready, willing, and able to make their own choices. thats how you know you did it right.

        if, as a society, we actually did this, we would not have the 80s babies/entitled generation stereotype we have now. we probably wouldnt have such shitty people in the world, the world itself might be a little better. we would have people that understood choices, who understood how/why/when/where to make them, and how their choices effected others and their world at large, because they would have been taught how to adequately do that as children/teens/young adults. but, no. we have over protective parents who cant fathom that their children should, or even *could* have any choice in their life, because they know better, they are worried about the big scary world, and because its their house. its bad. its very sad.

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      ktfran May 6, 2013, 1:41 pm

      This is perfect advice Sheryl. Love all of it.

      My mom had to do a lot of advocating with my dad on my, and my sisters, behalf. He had three girls and was pretty strict.

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  • avatar

    Amber May 6, 2013, 1:06 pm

    I agree that while in the house, she should abide by the rules of the house.

    But trying to control what she does outside of the house is overstepping, unless it directly affects her parents (like they set a midnight curfew because her coming into the house late wakes them up or something).

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  • avatar

    Rangerchic May 6, 2013, 1:45 pm

    I so want my kid to read this post. So i’ll not comment further! 🙂

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  • avatar

    Boosker May 6, 2013, 12:52 pm

    Um, lie?

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      lets_be_honest May 6, 2013, 12:53 pm

      haha, sometimes the simplest advice is the best.

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      mf May 6, 2013, 1:02 pm

      HA! I lived at home between the ages of 19 and 22, and my parents were very overprotective. So yeah, there were a few times when I just flat-out lied. And you know what? I don’t regret it at all.

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    • Lyra

      L May 6, 2013, 3:09 pm

      This is probably the goody two shoes in me talking, but honestly I think that would be counterproductive. I see where you are coming from, but this LW still lives with her parents. Their house, their rules. It shows a great disrespect to them if she lies. I’d bet things would get MUCH worse for her if she were caught.

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        GatorGirl May 6, 2013, 3:15 pm

        I don’t like lying either. It’s not a very mature way to handle this situation.

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        Boosker May 6, 2013, 3:38 pm

        Eh, I think there’s a clear line that needs to be drawn once a kid hits eighteen. I just don’t think it’s her parents’ business if she’s getting it on with her boyfriend or hanging out with friends overnight. At nineteen, she’s in charge of her body and what happens reproductively-speaking. If she was stumbling home drunk and high at 3 in the morning, that affects her parents and the tranquility of their home. What she does with her boyfriend outside of the house, as long as it doesn’t infringe on the parents’ living space, is frankly none of their damn business.

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        GatorGirl May 6, 2013, 3:57 pm

        First, there is ONE line about her parents saying they don’t want grandkids yet, not some big paragraph about her parents lecturing her on pre-marital sex, reproduction, birth control, etc etc. My mom has been saying “I ain’t ready for grandkids yet” to me for 10 years (and I’m 27 and getting married in 19 days). It wasn’t some big comment on my sex life or her trying to control my body, it was a) a subtle reminder that kids are a real possibility if you’re not responsible and b) a joke!

        I do agree that what she does outside of the house is her own business, not her parents. But lying is not a mature way to deal with the “problem”. Lying isn’t a mature way to deal with any problem and if she gets caught in a lie, which IMO will undoubtedly happen, she is going to look irresponsible, untrustworthly, and give her parents more fuel for their over protective fire. The mature way to handle the situation is to talk to them about the frustration and re-negotiate the house rules. And, she is 19! You don’t magically get your head on straight when you wake up on your 18th birthday. Some people take longer to mature and some people need more rules and guidance.

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      • Lyra

        L May 6, 2013, 4:30 pm

        YES. Totally with you on this GG. I do think her parents aren’t being fair with the fact that they have given her different rules than her brother, but at the same time lying won’t help this situation at all. In my late teens/early 20’s my parents started easing up on the curfew and such when I was home because I was responsible with their rules and I followed them. If she proves she can follow their rules, that ultimately will help her because it will allow her to prove that she is a trustworthy and respectful young woman.

        Not to mention I remember when I was 19 and *thought* I had my head on straight…yikes.

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        Boosker May 6, 2013, 4:15 pm

        Have to disagree with you. Her parents are objecting to this girl spending overnight time with her boyfriend, not just being out and about in general. It’s not that she can’t ever spend time outside of the home; it’s that her parents don’t want her to have overnights with her boyfriend because “they don’t want any grand kids soon,” meaning they don’t want their 19 yr old daughter to be having sex. If they don’t want her to have sex in their house, that’s totally fine. But as I said, it’s none of their business what she does with her boyfriend behind closed doors outside of the house. Her parents are in the wrong by trying to impose restrictions on what she does with her body. In a perfect world, yes, it would be lovely to have transparency between parents and their children. But when a parent has shown that they do not respect their grown child’s privacy and agency, that’s when I think limiting information is appropriate. If that means the LW just doesn’t get into specifics about what she’s doing outside the house, great. If her parents are pushy and hound her about where she’s going to be going, I would say she can lie. Not an ideal situation, but her parents aren’t behaving in an ideal manner either.

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        GatorGirl May 6, 2013, 4:27 pm

        Yeah….I still think you’re stretching and making assumptions. And I still firmly beleive lying is never the right answer. But to each their own.

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        BreezyAM May 6, 2013, 9:53 pm

        rather than call it lying let me put it like this… it’s unnecessary information. She does not owe them any infomation regarding with whom she socializes, what they do, or where they are going. She owes them respect for their home and rules regarding shared space (such as not coming in at 3am and waking everyone up, no overnight guests) but no she does not owe them an itinerary of her social life.

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      • Lyra

        L May 6, 2013, 5:28 pm

        The thing is we don’t know WHY her parents have put these rules into place. For all we know maybe she did something in high school that caused her parents to put these restrictions into place. Lying won’t get her anywhere.

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      • Lindsay

        Lindsay May 6, 2013, 5:45 pm

        I wouldn’t say it’s “none of their business.” Sure, she’s an adult, but she’s still dependent on them and if she got pregnant, it would certainly become their problem too. Legally, hitting 18 makes you an adult, but if nothing has changed in your life except that when you leave the house to go to school, it’s college and not high school, I can see why her parents still feel like they can make rules for her to follow.

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        AmyP May 6, 2013, 8:42 pm

        “Sure, she’s an adult, but she’s still dependent on them and if she got pregnant, it would certainly become their problem too.”

        Right. Until she is financially independent, it’s not unreasonable for them to be worried about her. They would be the ones she turned to if she had a baby.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom May 6, 2013, 8:51 pm

        If she gets pregnant it does impact her parents. They would be providing financial support for years and almost certainly doing a lot of primary child care and that would be a drastic impact on their life. When she is independent she can get pregnant and support herself and make all her own decisions.

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        ele4phant May 6, 2013, 8:59 pm

        It woul only impact them if they decided to support her and the child. They wouldn’t be the first parents to tell their pregnant child that if they want to keep the baby, fine, but they won’t help support it.

        It really only the 19 year old’s business what she does with her body. The parents don’t have to like it, support it, and they can definitely ban it in their home, but once she steps outside their walls it’s her call.

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  • avatar

    painted_lady May 6, 2013, 3:24 pm

    You know when my parents stopped voicing their opinion on how I should live my life? Um, never. They’re more respectful now that I’m an adult, but they still want to help. It’s the same thing friends do with each other, just the dynamic is a little different because they used to be able to tell me what to do, and I would still like their approval sometimes. But as long as you’re respectful, helpful, and you’re not breaking their rules flagrantly, keep doing your thing, and maybe look into what it would take to move out.

    My first spring break home from college, I went out at 9pm one night to meet up with friends. My dad was the one who was home, and he flipped out that I was leaving so late, this was ridiculous, and he was NOT waiting up for me till 4 am. I said, okay, I’m fine with that, would he rather me crash at one of my friends’ houses so he’d know I wouldn’t be home, or was he okay with trusting that I could get home okay and call him if I got into trouble? He took the second choice, and once he saw I knew how to handle myself and would come home as promised, nothing more was said. Maybe try giving your parents similar choices. Ask if there’s something that you can do to put them more at ease when you’re with your boyfriend. If you can be respectful about it, I’d even say, “Okay, I’m doing x to make you feel better. And I’ve heard your opinion on x trip, but I disagree. I’ve made this compromise, but we need to stop talking about it.” I think maybe look at your approach and see if you’re handling this like an adult – if you’re not, maybe you should start acting like one, and then they’ll start treating you like one. If not, I suggest you quit engaging – a polite, “Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind. See you Sunday night!” or, “Mom, I heard you. I’m sorry I can’t stay and watch Modern Family with you because I have plans and it would be ride to cancel. DVR it and we can watch it when I get home tonight.” Acknowledge, the either offer a compromise or change the subject. Unless their concerns are truly pressing (to them, at least) and they’re not just rehashing old patterns and dynamics, they’ll learn quickly that this approach won’t work on you.

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    • avatar

      ebstarr May 6, 2013, 4:12 pm

      I love all of this.

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  • Lindsay

    Lindsay May 6, 2013, 5:39 pm

    I already gave my 2 cents, but I’ll just say: When I’m home visiting, my stepmom won’t let me use the kitchen without permission (unless I’m cooking or cleaning for her), so it could be worse.

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  • caitiebug

    caitiebug May 6, 2013, 5:50 pm

    Someone mentioned this further up, but a lot of the rules might not be because they are trying to control you, but because they are worried about you. I’m 22, I graduated last year and I’m working a full-time job and still living at home to save money. My parents still ask me my plans for the night and ask that I leave my bedroom light on until I get home because they worry when they wake up and can’t tell whether I’m home yet. They told me that when I was at school, it was easy not to worry since “out of sight, out of mind”, but now that they’re used to having me around, when I go on a trip or stay out late, they wake up to go to the bathroom, see that I’m not home yet and start fretting, can’t fall back asleep, etc etc. And because I don’t want them to worry, regardless of whether they are being a little irrational, I try to come home earlier and do little things that help them sleep at night.

    I also think that you need to approach them more like an adult. I noticed that before I graduated, I would check with my parents, like “do you mind if I stay out late to go do X tonight”. Now I tell them, “I’m doing X, I’ll be back at Y.” I never made a big deal of it, but when I’m not asking permission I’m not really giving them a chance to say no. Don’t throw it in their face like “HAHA I am an adult, you can’t control me!” (which I admittedly did a few times when I came home during the summer when they gave me rules I wasn’t used to) because that will just keep them thinking of you as a child.

    And honestly, sometimes I think a white lie is better for everyone (within reason). When I go into a certain area to go to bars, hang out or whatever for a night, my parents worry more because I am driving further, they aren’t familiar with the area, etc. Sometimes when I know I’m going to be out later, or if they seem particularly stressed by other things in their lives and I don’t want to add to that, I’ll just tell them I’m going somewhere local so they don’t spend the night worrying. Is it necessary to lie? No, they wouldn’t stop me from going either way, but sometimes I just don’t want to feel like I’m keeping them up all night worrying.

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  • avatar

    BreezyAM May 7, 2013, 12:23 am

    Ideally, parents and adult children should live together much like roommates. Yes, even if the adult child is not paying rent. I don’t think my husband having the only income means he gets to dictate my friendships, comings and goings, and recreational time. Why on earth should it mean the parents get to? It’s nothing more than a manipulation tactic to encourage the adult child to move out.

    But, I’m a very respectful roomie too. I think if roomates are uncomy with overnight guests, that should be respected. I think if they are light sleepers, yes, you need to either be home by X time or let them know you’ll be staying elsewhere. After all it’s just courtesy to let people you live with know “hey I’ll be in the Hampton’s this weekend!”

    LW I think where you may be going wrong is you may still be asking for “permission” to do things. You don’t need permission to do a thing. And if your parents act as if you do, then, well, sadly there’s not much you can do while still living at home. For some it’s worth their dignity to suck it up and move out. For some it’s not. I humbly suggest you stop the information train (they don’t need to know you’re dating at all frankly, let alone who) and give out only the most bare essential information “I’m going out. I’ll be home at X time.” The minute you start asking them all kinds of nonsense like “what would make you more comfortable?” that implies what they think actually matters. Frankly, it doesn’t. You’re an adult. It’s inappropriate. Concern is fine. For example, when I had roommates, I was concerned if they were out much later than expected, or gone for days without notice. But having to “approve” your boyfriend and social activities is control, not concern. Don’t play into that.

    That doesn’t mean being a snot and getting all junior high and “NOT YOUR BUSINESS!” about it. It simply means keeping to yourself and being very, very vague and not forthcoming regarding information. if you’re in a pattern where you’ve been justifying, defending, and explaining to your parents your every move, this will be hard to break. Just remember, it is very rare that giving more information is better. This is a life lesson that will do you very well. Always evaluate if someone NEEDS to know something. It’s rare they do. Very rare. And you’ll be well served to abide by that.

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  • meadowphoenix

    meadowphoenix May 7, 2013, 3:58 am

    There is so much gender essentialism in this post, it’s kinda grossing me out.

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  • avatar

    Ammie May 7, 2013, 8:24 am

    Can I ask what “a big deal” means in this context? Because there are ways it could be ridiculous – “NO, you are not going out with that ne’er-do-well all day, he’ll find a shady corner and knock you up!”, and there are ways it could be more reasonable – “OK, but we’ll need a contact number to reach you. Make sure your cell is charged, and tell us when you’re leaving, when you’ll be back, and approximately where y’all are going. Are you taking the Metro? Be sure to keep all your valuables secured while you’re on it, and don’t fall asleep – Mom had that incident ten years ago where someone snatched her purse. It’s pretty safe nowadays, but you just want to be careful. You got all your medications? A map of the area? Don’t want to get lost in that city, take a turn down a wrong street and there are bars on the front porches.”

    Giving your 19-year-old the third degree over a day trip may be obnoxious, but it was pretty standard parental procedure around my house. My folks were more urbanized than I was, for one thing… they were city kids who raised their own kids in the country… and my mom had some experiences growing up that made her more wary than some other parents might be. But if they’re trying to stop you from going on day trips every time your boyfriend plans one, that’s over-the-top, particularly since your dad wants you to marry him.

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