Auntie SparkNotes: The Parent-Pleaser
I'm a college freshman, and my year is going great! I've met a lot of fun people, and have gotten to know three girls in particular pretty well. We've become good friends, and have decided that we should be roommates next fall. One problem; I'm a guy.
This is okay with them, and it sounds as if their parents will be okay with it too. However, I'm not sure how to tell my parents that I want to share a suite (separate rooms) with three girls. I'm not sure how they'll react. They're generally conservative, and I don't think they'll jump at the idea. Any ideas on how to approach this?
Yeah! How about "like an adult"?
Because I hate to break it to you, Sparkler, but... that's what you are. You're an adult. In college. Also known as that magical place where the decisions about where you live, who you live with, and whether or not to decorate your suite with a life-sized cardboard cutout of Justin Bieber are all yours to make! And not only are you fully entitled to make these choices without worrying how your parents will take it, you're really kind of supposed to. College isn't just about finding an academic path, making friends, and drinking beverages of questionable origin out of trash cans at frat parties; it's a four-year crash course in living your life like a grownup. And if you don't take advantage of the opportunity—if you don't learn, now, how to make and own your choices without anyone's approval but yours— you'll never develop the self-reliance you need to be a fully functioning adult.
And between all this concern about how people's parents will take the news about your living arrangement, it seems like you haven't quite grasped yet that the only opinion that matters is yours. It doesn't matter if your parents jump at the idea or not. Your decisions no longer hinge on their permission. And if they don't like this one, then that's okay; the whole experience will excellent practice for the rest of their lives as parents of an adult son.
So, right now, let go of all the "my parents," "their parents" stuff and give yourself the benefit of the doubt; you've thought this through, you've made your choice, you're good to go. And when the subject of your roommate situation comes up, deliver the news the way that every adult does when he's talking about a decision: without fanfare, as a fait accompli, and with the assumption that whoever you're telling it to will treat you like the grownup you are.
Also known as, "Next year? Oh, yeah, I've got that taken care of. I'm going to share a suite with my friends—Lady, Lady, and Lady."
And if they come back with disapproval, you respond to it the way that every adult does when he's made a mature decision: "I'm sorry you feel that way, but this is something I have to decide for myself, and my mind is made up."
And if they push it: "We're just going to have to agree to disagree. So, how's Grandma's butt fungus?"
That said, I can't guarantee that you'll get no blow-back from your parents if they don't like your soon-to-be living arrangement; if they fundamentally disagree with your choice, then nothing you can say or do will make them feel otherwise. But there's a beautiful freedom in realizing that whether they hate it or not, it's still your choice. And when you start seeing your parents approval for what it is—nice to have, but not necessary to live—you'll be amazed at how quickly you stop craving it.
Does parental disapproval make you rethink your grownup choices? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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