If there is one thing that I’m unhappy about my life now is that I have overprotective parents. I am their only daughter and recently turned 18. I do quite well in school and have many friends who keep asking me to party and hang out with them. Unfortunately, I always have to turn them down because my parents expect me to be at home by 12am (or even earlier sometimes). But that’s when the party usually starts!

Sometimes, when I am at a party, I end up being the loser who has to go home early because her parents can’t stop calling to ask about her whereabouts. It’s unfair because my 20-year-old brother gets to do anything and go anywhere he wants. Sometimes, he even comes home as late as 2am!

All I want to do is hang out with my friends at the mamak or have sleepovers at their house. I have never tried alcohol, I don’t smoke and I never want to do drugs, yet, my parents think that the moment I hang out with my friends I’ll start doing all of that.

My friends are starting to get tired of asking me out because they know I won’t be able to go. But I really want to hang out with my friends and have been trying to convince my parents to let me live a little. When I say that I’ll be okay with my friends, my parents always tell me that the world is not a safe place anymore and that anything could happen to me. I am so frustrated that they are still treating me like a kid. How long must I wait before they start treating me like an adult? — S

Talk to your parents

It has become increasingly difficult to convince overprotective parents to let their kids have more freedom. It is a conversation that can quickly become emotional, because parents are motivated by fear and worry, and kids are driven to anger by a sense of unfairness.

In the end, very little gets solved and many kids take the easy way out by rebelling and defying their parents’ orders. While to many young people that might seem like the only option to obtain some freedom while under their parents roofs, it is not the only option, and often causes more problems of mistrust and ill feelings between parent and child.

Understanding the source of your parents’ concerns – as well as communicating the right things in the right way – is the key. Ask your parents why they are feeling this way and stopping you from staying out late to party with your friends.

Most of what they say will be things that you have heard before, but it is important to let them feel that they can say their peace in a civil, understanding conversation – and that you are willing to listen. Then tell them how you feel.

Most importantly, assure them that they can trust you, and how important their concessions would be to you. Start out by bringing the activity closer to their comfort zone. Invite your friends over or have your parents join you or drop you off at the mamak or sleepovers. That can be uncool, I know, but no one ever said this would be easy! Letting your parents feel like they know your friends and your whereabouts might help them feel more at ease.

Remember, this is as much as helping them come to terms with the fact that you are growing up, as it is about you expanding your boundaries and freedom! — Su Ann

Understand the situation

Your parents feel uneasy about you going out. That’s the main thing you have to address. It’s easy to be angry about this, and speak to them with frustration, anger. But look beyond yourself and understand where they’re coming from. Overprotection usually comes from love. You’re precious, and they don’t want anything to happen to you.

Tell them you understand this when you talk to them. Two things you can do to make them feel at ease. Tell them that your brother will be around to take care of you. He doesn’t have to be with you, just get him to be on standby should you need anything. Get him to pick you up, that way your parents know you’re in safe hands. Agree a time to come home, say 2am, and stick to it. Do this often enough and it builds trust. In time, you’ll be able to do sleepovers.

Another thing you can do is to introduce your friends to your parents. They’ll be more comfortable once they know who you hang out with. Don’t be uncomfortable about this. Share the people who are close to you with each other. Have your friends come over, spend time at your house and slowly get to know your parents. Your parents will also appreciate to know your friends’ parents. This will deepen the trust. It lets them know who to contact in case of emergencies, and gives them a better understanding of who you’re hanging out with. Don’t let this feel like they’re invading your space. They deserve to know you’re safe, and these are some ways that will make them worry less. — Rusyan

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