Auntie SparkNotes: On A Short Leash
I have a problem, which only you, in your infinite wisdom can solve for me. I am a nineteen year old female. I have been home schooled my entire life. I am now taking college classes online; and I also happen to be living with my parents. My parents are good people; and I know that they care about me. They also don't let me out of their sight, ever.
I am allowed to go shopping for them. I call them on a cell phone when I get to the grocery store, and then I call again before I leave. However, I can't go to social gatherings unless I have a parent with me, so we only go to events that they enjoy, and I'm also not allowed to be alone with boys. (Sitting at a table in a restaurant counts as being alone.) My parents believe in a very Duggar Family type of dating, a.k.a. "courting".
Usually, these boundaries don't bother me much. I know that my parents love me, and they want me to be safe. However, I have been hyper aware of my restrictions lately because of my current situation. You see, for awhile, I had a boyfriend. He was fun to be around, and he put up with my parents rules about dating. Then, he left me for another girl. A girl whose parents don't have a "no snuggling while watching the Discovery Channel" rule. I know I shouldn't want him back; but I just feel so lonely. He was one of the few connections that I had to the outside world, and now he is gone. I feel as though I am trapped in this house, with nothing to do except think about what I could have done differently.
I'd like to find some sort of distraction and I think that I'm old enough that I can go to local concerts, plays, and other social gatherings without a parental escort. I just don't know what to do. I've tried bringing it up, but they always shut me down by saying things like, "You'll thank us when you're older." or "You just don't understand the dangers of the world." What can I do, oh wise and beautiful Auntie? What can I do to convince my parents that they can give me a longer leash without them having to worry that I'll hang myself with it?
You can get the [bleep] out of their house.
Sorry, Sparkler, but it has to be said. Because while of course you can try to talk to your folks—again—and of course you can make the reasonable argument that, as a legal adult, you should have at least some independence with regard to your social life—again—the fact is, you know from experience just how willing your parents are to listen to reason.
As in, not at all.
And unless your idea of a perfect future is to stay under their roof, bound by their rules, gaining no knowledge and having no experiences, until you're handed off to your husband? Then something's gotta change—and since they've already proved that they won't let that happen, it's going to have to be up to you.
Because as much as your parents love you (and I'm sure they do), and as much as they might think that these restrictions are for your own good (which I'm also sure they do), the fact remains that they aren't in charge of your happiness; you are. And at the age of 19, if your life isn't making you happy, it's your job to change the things about it that don't fit—including the unnecessarily restrictive terms under which you're currently living.
What does this mean, practically? First, that it's time to stop letting your parents shut you down. If they say, "You'll thank us when you're older," then it's high time you pointed out that you are older, and you want to talk about this. You are, at the very least, entitled to a conversation in which your views, opinions, and desires are considered. Don't be afraid to say so. Tell your parents that you're not happy, that you think you've proved that you're trustworthy and mature enough to make at least some of your own decisions (it's best if you have a list of a few concrete, easily-expressed desires), and that you would like the freedom and respect to do so.
And second, that it's time to start thinking, seriously and practically, about what you want out of life—and about what it'll take to make that happen, whether it's as simple as scheduling a weekly night out for yourself, your parents' objections be damned, or as difficult as getting a job and moving out on your own. But whatever you want out of life, I hope you can look at your letter and acknowledge that what you've got now isn't cutting it. You want friends, conversation, and human connection. You want the freedom to see movies, look at art, or take in a play based on your own tastes and interests. Basically, you want to be your own person—and if that's what you want, then you have to take the reins on your life.
Yes, even if you have to do it by force.
How much better does this letter make you feel about *your* super-strict parents? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at email@example.com.