Many young women live with strict parents who constantly demand you “be home before your curfew,” “finish school before you date” or “only bring home a report card with straight As.” As you subtly roll your eyes out of frustration, you’re also trying to figure out how to placate your parents – especially if those parents include an overprotective dad.
Most of the time, it seems like your mom is the one who holds the reins when it comes to rule-making. But sometimes, your dad will also chime in and set his own rules. While this may be frustrating, your dad usually just wants to make sure his daughter is safe and is being treated well.
However, although the reason behind the protective behavior can be heartwarming, it can get also be a bit exasperating. So, here are some tips to handle those situations without getting yourself grounded.
You need to stop thinking that your father is out to make you unhappy. He really wants you to live the best life possible and the rules and restrictions he puts in place are there because he believes he is being helpful.
According to TIME, a 2014 Pew Research study shows that the top things parents want to teach their children are how to be responsible, how to work hard, how to help others and how to be well-mannered. Of these four, 93 percent of parents said teaching children to be responsible is “especially important,” and TIME says 55 percent of parents rated responsibility in their top three values.
And, as TIME writes, “One of the biggest takeaway from the Pew parenting study is that, despite beliefs or education or race, a lot of parents want the same things for their kids.” Although it sometimes feels like your dad’s rules are constricting, it’s important to realize that no one is perfect and he truly has your best interests at heart.
Having a calm, adult conversation about your feelings and problems could actually result in a constructive meeting. As is the case with any person, Health Guidance says, “In order to let your parents know how you feel and what you want, you have to talk to them.” It’s actually a mistake to completely shut your parents out because this can just foster resentment and lead to even more misunderstandings.
“The more you talk to your parents, the more they know, understand and trust you. Let them know what is going on in your life, invite your friends over and share things with them,” Health Guidance says. It’s easy to forget that building a relationship with your parents is just like building a relationship with your friends. In order to grow closer and to strengthen the trust and bond between you two, then you need to talk to each other. Also, inviting your friends over is a good idea because getting to know who you are spending your time with can ease any worries they may have about letting you go out.
Additionally, your conversations should never be accusatory. Instead of starting sentences like, “You do this” or “You think I’m this,” use “I” statements so that he can better understand the position you’re coming from. Good Therapy explains, “An ‘I’ message or ‘I’ statement is a style of communication that focuses on the feelings or beliefs of the speaker rather than thoughts and characteristics that the speaker attributes to the listener.”
Because “you” statements shift the blame to the listener, “I” statements allow you to be honest and assertive about your feelings without making accusations, which can cause your parents to feel defensive (or even disrespected).
With parents, sometimes your actions will speak louder than words. If you can do things to prove your maturity and how hard you work, your father will likely recognize and reward your efforts.
For example, be respectful in the way you speak to him, bring home good grades or spend your summer break interning. Something as simple as asking your parents for permission can show them your maturity. Asking early will also foster a calm conversation about your plans, why you want to go and any questions they may have. Doing this will leave a “lasting impression on your parents,” says Health Guidance. Also, it shows how responsible you have become.
Don’t, however, run in and slam your report card on his desk while simultaneously screaming about how you proved him wrong. As Health Guidance warns, “Attempting to convince your parents that you are an adult while throwing a temper tantrum like a child will definitely not get you very far.” As the saying goes, “If you want to be treated like an adult, then act like one.”
Really, proving yourself is about changing your behavior to be more mature. All Womens Talk also suggests limiting “childish words” like “duh” or “whatever,” taking initiative around the house and learning to look after yourself by making your own food, making your own money and managing your time wisely.
When you have an overprotective parent, there are a lot of things you both need to understand about each other. You may need to prove yourself by changing your habits or by learning how to speak to them in a mature way. But the most important thing you can immediately do is to remember that your father wants you to have the best life possible. No matter how protective he is, he’s only doing it because he loves you.
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