Dear Ivy: I FEEL STUCK
My parents are super strict and control every tiny bit of my life. I’m turning 18 in September, and I feel like I have no freedom. They say they are just protecting me, but I feel trapped. I feel like it got worse during Covid. I have nowhere to go and nothing to do. All my anxiety is coming from them because it’s like I have no freedom and the only thing I do is go to school and I don’t know what to do anymore, and I just wish they would listen to me.
This is a very challenging situation and its very understandable the extreme distress you are feeling. Your parents are trying to protect you in the way they see fit, and in their eyes, that’s to control what they can – in this case, you. Sometimes we must remember that our parents are humans too and they make mistakes. They might think that this method is working, but clearly you feel differently, and I do not believe they are seeing that.
Communication is very important, and I think we need to create some very open channels for communication with our loved ones. You may have told your parents about how you feel and how upset you are, but they still may have not listened. This is because it ends up being a situation where someone is telling, but no one is listening.
I suggest a genuine and open exchange with your parents. In high school, whenever I had a problem with my parents’ rules or I disagreed with something, I would always just tell them that I was not happy with it and that whatever they were doing was making me upset. A lot of the time that resulted in arguments and no one listening to either side. I was in grade 11 when I realized this wasn’t working and I started to get really frustrated. However, I did find a solution that worked very well and helped my parents and I have proper discussions!
See, our parents see us as children, and they tend to have rose-coloured glasses when it comes to us growing up. That is what ends up causing the restrictions and the need to protect, because they still believe we are little and need that. There is nothing wrong with that because it’s how they show us they love us.
But what you can do is very simple … show them you mean business! Before confronting them, you need to come up with a plan. Remember that you want your parents to understand your point of view. Come up with talking points and legit reasons for changing their restrictions and easing up their strictness. Come up with a list of logical reasons and emotional reasons. It can be that you are almost an adult and deserve the chance to prove to them you will be okay in the world. It can be that these restrictions are making you feel trapped and alone and untrustworthy. Whatever reasons you have for wanting a change are valid and you need to relay that to your parents. When you do talk to them, let them know you want to have a discussion and that you hope they will listen and try not to interrupt or talk over you. Sometimes this exchange of ideas will work, and you guys can come to a compromise together!
If you find that it isn’t working, try exploring other avenues. You deserve to feel safe and not sacrifice your mental health. If you feel you are starting to feel worse and no changes have happened, you need to do what is best for you. That may include speaking with a professional – either a doctor, a therapist, or someone who will help you. Whatever you choose to do, remember to look at how it will make you feel. You know what will work for you and what will not, so it’s up to you to share that information with your parents – and be patient with them, because even during this time, they are experiencing stress just like you!