By Isabelle Laureta
Are your parents strict? Did you use to experience them saying “no” to you all the time whenever you asked to go out? Or do they still do that now even though you’re already working?
I’m in third year college and my parents have been strict ever since. I always thought they would loosen up as I grew up, but I’ve been hoping for that for as long as I can remember. I am already a year away from graduating and still they treat me like a child. I love them so much but I feel so deprived of all the experience all my friends get to have without their parents breathing down their neck. Tell me, how can I deal with them? And does it ever really get any better? I fear they might still ask me about who I’m going out with or criticize what I’m wearing whenever I go out even as an adult years down the road. I fear I might not be able to be free from their “suffocating” rules, unless I free myself completely from them.
I almost choked on my coffee as I read your first question because, girl, the soundtrack of my childhood was “Overprotected” by Britney Spears. Well, they didn’t always say no to me when I asked for permission, but it would always require me a lot of courage and pep talks in front of the bathroom mirror before I could make a hint about going out with friends. It was then followed by the classic, “Who are you going with? What’s their surname? Where do they live? Give me their contact numbers,” prodding from my father. Once I passed through that, a process that could be likened to successfully making it to the MRT on Friday nights, only then could I celebrate, but only until I would receive the text, the dreaded where-are-you-it’s-late-come-home text.
Back in elementary, we used to have this annual overnight camping thing at school. My brother, being three years ahead of me, would go every year and I would stay at home waiting for my time to come because, you see, only third graders (and older) were entitled to this precious event. When I finally reached third grade and our teacher gave us this consent form for our parents to sign, I was too nervous to give it to my parents I couldn’t even eat. By some miracle, my dad allowed me, and I couldn’t believe such a milestone could happen to me that I cried. So yeah, I guess we’re not so different, you and I.
When I was your age, and I guess even to this day, I still get nervous when I tell my parents I’m going out (yeah, I’m 24 and I still ask for their permission, hah). It’s like when you meet your high school crush after a long time and suddenly, you turn into that age again when you first met. So basically, I turn into a child who needs bathroom-mirror pep talks even at my age, even though my parents are more lenient now. I recently went on an overnight trip with some college friends and it took me a week to gather the courage to ask my dad’s permission. Even though I am an adult now, there is a slim chance he won’t allow me.
But yes, it does get better. I can go out of the country with friends now! I guess it’s because, in all those years of them being strict to me and giving rules and curfews, I’d always complied, though maybe I rebelled once or twice. So now, there’s this level of trust established between my parents and me because they know I won’t do anything that will disappoint them, and I’ve proven that time and time again.
The thing about my parents, strict as they are, is that they’re always within reason, so it isn’t really that hard to follow their rules. I hope your parents are, too. But if they aren’t, first of all, I’m so sorry. I have friends whose parents are like Hitler, and boy, are they unhappy. I’m lucky my parents realized I was turning into an adult when I did, but if your parents won’t, I’m afraid you’d have to do the work yourself. When you reach a certain age, you’d have to talk to them (politely) and make them realize that you can’t stay under their wing. I don’t think we can ever completely free ourselves from our parents especially in our culture, but this doesn’t mean they can control us our entire lives. You’re a big girl now who can make her own decisions and learn from her own mistakes.
You say you love them so much, so I believe your parents are good people. They just need to chill out a little bit sometimes, so give them a reason to. And don’t worry about missing out on what your friends get to experience. Sure, you missed one party or two. But you’re young and there’s still so much ahead of you, I promise.
And look, the older I get, the more I understand my parents, especially in this day and age when 17-year-olds mindlessly get shot on the streets by no less than policemen. So be patient. Be respectful. Listen to them. Try to understand their position. Make compromises if you have to. You can tell them that if they believe they raised you well, then there really isn’t anything they should worry about. It’s going to be a lot of work. Oftentimes, it’ll feel like you’re doing time in prison, proving you’ve been good so you can be granted parole. But trust me, it’ll be worth it.
Ask me your deepest, weirdest, darkest questions! I’m no expert at anything and I don’t have it all figured out either (because, honestly, who does?), but let me at least try. Send them over to firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s make sense of this crazy millennial life together! <3