While most parents are eager to let their grown up children live independently, mine are an exception.

My parents are overprotective of me. I can’t stay overnight at my friend’s house or hang out with them frequently. I am not even able to join my friends for morning jogs. My parents say the restrictions are for my own good. But in reality, my family hardly spends quality time together and we don’t discuss our personal issues together.

I’m going to be a grown man and entering university soon. My social and survival skills are very limited because I’m always stuck at home. It’s about time to step out of my comfort zone and learn new skills from my close friends. I’ve always volunteered to help my parents with housework to prove than I can be independent, but they would only allow me to help prepare meals.

I’m bored because I have nothing to do at home.

I realise I’m pretty naive about the ways of the real world, like how to take the bus home after hanging out with my friends. My close buddies and I have our own dreams and ambitions. We spend our money within a budget, as we understand money is hard to earn.

My mum seldom lets me out but she still expects me to know how to order food from hawker stalls. She is very dominating. She wants me to do things her way and make decisions for me even though I don’t need her help. She insists where and what I should eat when I’m outside.

This means I’m not given the freedom to choose or make decisions, or even the opportunity to learn from my mistakes.

I’m afraid she’ll also pick which girl I should date in the future! When I advise her convincingly, she always snaps and tells me off.

My dad is more open but he always back my mum’s decisions, and they threaten to disown me if I become rebellious. They are too set in their old ways and can’t adjust to the changes that will happen to me.

If they are reluctant to let me go, how am I going to take care of them in the future?

At the moment I am going out with a girl who is my schoolmate. However, these shortcomings at home are making things hard to develop our relationship, since we no longer go to school and I can’t go out often.

I don’t wish to be a “Mama’s Boy” forever. I wish to take flight from my nest as soon as possible. — Set Me Free

Take control

Overprotective parents have plenty of justifications for keeping their children as close to them as possible, and often these justifications are valid. But as you have pointed out, parents eventually have to learn to let go so that their children can grow and expand their horizons – effectively becoming smarter, wiser and independent.

Every parent wants their child to be all of the above, but they often worry about street crime, drugs, the influence of badly-behaved friends, or a loss of focus on studies. But another root of overprotectiveness is simply the inability to let go.

The need to be in control is inherent in many people, and when they start their own family, it is often their kids that bear the biggest brunt of this problem. Your mother could very well be concerned about your well-being and doesn’t trust the world to be a safe place for you, but it also seems that she has a massive issue with losing control.

In such cases there are two ways to get adamant parents to listen. Firstly, be the reasonable and composed one and have a discussion with your parents about the urgency of your situation. Secondly, be the complete opposite and have a good fight with your parents.

Clearly the first method is the more palatable and society-approved path – if you use sound logic and show your parents that you are responsible and mature enough to handle the real world, then they might just be convinced enough to give you more freedom. But this doesn’t always work with parents who need a good shock to realise that they, too, can be wrong.

It seems that you have tried many times to reason with your mother. Perhaps (and it feels absurd saying this) an emotional argument might just do the trick in informing your mother that you can be just as emotional as she is, and that the way she is treating you is unfair and selfish.

No matter what you choose to do, things are not going to change overnight. The most effective reprieve is going overseas to study, and you should take every opportunity you get to speak with your parents about this. Also, strengthen your relationship with your father and other trusted relatives who can understand your situation. Most importantly, keep your chin up and don’t lose sight of your freedom and independence of thought! — Su Ann

Communicate better

One big issue here is the lack of quality time between you and your parents. Because of this, your relationship becomes very narrow and when you do talk, chances are it will be contentious. It comes to a point when all communication is a set of instructions about what you should and shouldn’t do.

Start by talking to your parents about other things. Ask them how their day was, about their ideas, or their perspective on things. Suggest activities that they’d like to do, and join them. In other words, view them as your friends. This helps you experience a side of your parents that you don’t normally see, and gives them an opportunity to share themselves as more than just caretakers.

Get them involved in what you do. This will be painful in the short-term, but they have to see that you doing your own thing is beneficial and not dangerous. So if your tuition classes organise events, get your parents to tag along. Have your friends come over your place for lunch. Parents cool down when they are closer to your friends.

An even better scenario is when your parents know your friends’ parents. This might seem as intrusive, but it’s comforting for parents to know their counterparts. They’d know who to call for emergencies, and could even end up as friends themselves. This level of familiarity helps because it enables your parents to trust the company you keep.

Your girlfriend should be understanding of your situation. This is a good chance to see her character – if she’s into you for the right reasons, she will understand and even try to help. If she doesn’t, then it’s best to just stay friends.

It may take a long time with a few arguments along the way, but think of this in the long run. Be patient and consistent. This is a good test of understanding and patience on your end. Try thinking of it from their side – it’s hard for any parent to send their child into the real world.

Reassure them that you’ll be okay. Involve them in your life and be there for them often enough, and they’ll see how your maturity will carry you forward into the real world. — Rusyan

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