What are parents for?
Parents play several roles, including 2 very important ones:
Loving their child
Parents love their child. They give him/her comfort, support, advice, and help so that he/she can grow up and develop well.
Providing him/her with a living environment
For a child, this can be the most difficult role to understand and appreciate! Parents have to set rules so that their child will be safe and healthy. They are also responsible for transmitting the values and behaviours accepted in society, so that their child can integrate smoothly. So they need to react to behaviours they find unacceptable.
Do my parents have the right to…
Set rules for me?
Yes, because they have to make sure that their child is living in a safe, healthy environment and has everything he/she needs to develop. So it’s normal for parents to establish rules and a code for living at home and make their child respect them. Generally, parents won’t compromise on rules and values but they are ready to negotiate about other aspects. Everything’s possible when you talk!
Make me go to school or prevent me from going?
You have to go to school until the end of the school year when you turn 16, and your parents are responsible for making sure you go. After age 16, if you want to drop out of school, it’s best to discuss it with your parents. The decisions you make about your future have impacts on them too, so it’s important to find ways to deal with the situation together.
Make me work or prevent me from working?
Since you’re a minor, your parents can’t force you to get a job, because you have to go to school. However, they can forbid you to work if they think it’s hurting your schoolwork or another aspect of your life. Talk about it together and find a solution that suits all of you.
Choose my friends and my girlfriend or boyfriend?
Your parents may have an opinion about the people you spend time with. If they have good reasons to believe that your friends or your boyfriend or girlfriend are having a bad influence on you, they can express their worries or even ask you to end the relationship.
For example, they might do this if someone close to you belongs to a street gang, takes drugs, or is too old for you. On the other hand, they can’t prevent you from spending time with people because of their ethnic origin, their sexual orientation, or your own sexual orientation.
If your parents don’t like one of your friends, take the time to consider the reasons why you like this person. You can discuss it with your parents, expressing your opinion and suggesting solutions. For example, you might suggest that they meet your friends and your boyfriend or girlfriend.
What should I do if I’m feeling suffocated because my parents are overprotective?
If your parents overprotect you, talk about it with them. Ask them what their expectations are and identify the reasons why they’re acting like that. What can you do to reassure them? Negotiate new agreements with them, and explain what you’re ready to do to prove your good intentions.
Once you’ve reached an agreement, respect your promises: for example, come home on time or do the housework you’ve been assigned. The more you prove they can trust you, the more freedom they may give you. Be patient: nothing changes in a day, so give yourself time!