How to Deal With Overprotective Parents and Gain Your Freedom
If you have overprotective parents, then you're familiar with the fight that comes with wanting to go out of the house or hang out with friends without supervision. Depending on how overprotective they are (there's definitely different levels), you may or may not be in for a real fight (even if you're just wanting to go out to see a movie with a bunch of friends).
Even though my dad would encourage me to go out, my mom would say, "How dare you want to go out. You must hate me!" When I was younger I couldn't stand up to my mom, so I grew up never hanging out with friends or leaving the house. Throughout elementary school and middle school, whenever someone asked if I wanted to do something with them, I would ask my mom and she would guilt me into not going. After that, I stopped trying. My friends stopped asking if I could do things, so I became lonely and upset with my mom. I desperately needed to gain my freedom.
Steps to Gain Freedom From Your Parents
- Prepare yourself and your resolve.
- Make your stand.
- Be patient and keep trying.
What to Keep in Mind
Keep the end goal in mind before confrontation. It will help you stand your ground.
1. Prepare Yourself and Your Resolve
If you've reached the point where you are tired of not being able to go out with friends, or you want more freedom for yourself, the first thing you need to do is ready your mind. This is crucial. The first time you make your stand against your parent(s), you'll have to fight against the urge to avoid further conflict and cave in.
For me, this didn't happen until my third year of college or so. Yes, I know that is a very, very long time. I regret not going to any of my high school dances. Although, to be honest, I wasn't too interested in dancing and I was super self-conscious and rarely said a word to anyone throughout high school. I did, however, really want to go to the party after prom, but my mom somehow ended up guilt-ing me into not going. I ended up crying and just thinking "fine, I didn't want to go anyway."
What to Keep in Mind
Don't push too far, too fast. Take is slow. If your parents know your friends/who you'll be hanging out with, they'll be more likely to say yes.
2. Make Your Stand
Before even confronting your parent(s), keep your end goal in mind. If it's to go out with friends to a movie, don't let them win right away. It's okay if you don't get what you want at first. Try to barter and keep it at a level that they will be comfortable with.
If your parents don't want you hanging around with the opposite sex (which is another issue, but relevant), assure them that there will be a lot of people going. If they don't like you being out past a certain hour, see a movie and be back before that time. After a while, you can start asking for more. They will get more comfortable with you leaving the house. Just give them what they want somewhat (like a text message when you get there) and don't push too far too quickly.
Honestly, it's a lot like taking baby steps. Don't expect them to be okay with you having a serious date and not coming home until 1 A.M. the first time you ask. Let them build their trust in you first and get comfortable before stretching their limits.
Really, it's not so much as "asking" as putting your foot down. This may be hard at first, but if you open yourself up to a "yes or no" question, they're going to automatically say no, because they said so. An example of this would be "I want to go to the movies this Friday with so and so. A lot of people will be there and I'll be home by [insert time]. I'll text you when I get there."
Depending on how they answer, you may end up having to barter and convince them. "I've been doing really well in school lately and I don't go out a lot. I'll be sure to be careful, [insert name of responsible friend] is driving." It also helps if your parents know who you are hanging out with. If you have to bring them by, go for it. Play video games, ask if they can come over for dinner, etc. If your parents are comfortable with your choice in friends, they'll be less likely to say no.
What to Keep in Mind
If they say no right away, try bartering with how good you're doing at school and how you'll be back before a certain time.
3. Be Patient and Keep Trying
I can't stress how important it is to keep trying and pushing your boundaries. Depending on how overprotective and how hard it is for you to get your parents to agree to let you have your way, the longer it'll take to get them used to the idea.
My mom always complained that I was "given a little freedom and then I took advantage of it." Yeah, because I had been cooped up for years and years! But, realistically, this made it harder to get her used to the idea of me going out. I probably should have taken it slower, but by that time I was 19 or 20 and I knew that she was being unreasonable.
Be prepared for "I'm not talking to you" and the silent treatment every once in a while. I luckily had my dad to help calm my mom down sometimes, but I would still come home and find that my mom wasn't speaking to me. Eventually though, she did finally get used to me leaving the house, having a job, hanging out with friends and having a boyfriend. It wasn't in any way easy for her to accept it, but I tried to make it easier by spending time with her.
I figure that one of her biggest fears was me not wanting to spend time with her, so I made sure to still watch tv together and keep in touch with her via texting when I could.
It's not easy, but if it's something that you want, keep trying. It's well worth the struggle and once you finally do gain your freedom and independence, you'll find that you don't feel as anxious, lonely, and caged up as you used to.
What to Keep in Mind
Keep in touch with your parents and let them know you're okay when you're out. It's annoying, but it's a small sacrifice.
Do you usually cave-in and let your parents have their way?
FAQ About the Effects of Overprotective Parents
Why children of overprotective parents are slated to fail in life
Overprotective parents are invasive in many ways. They solve problems for their children that the latter are often capable of solving for themselves. They infantilize their children by making them feel incapable of charting their own course. This can lead to anxiety and feelings of inferiority. It makes it harder for the child to handle chaos.
How do you define an overprotective parent?
The overprotective parent wants to protect their children from harm, physical pain, unhappiness, rejection, hurt feelings, failure, and disappointments. When it comes to their children, these parents are fearful of everything. This can lead to feelings of over-dependency or resentment from the child.
Is being overprotective good in a relationship?
Trust is the base for any healthy and good relationship, familial or romantic. To keep a relationship going you must trust a person. Overprotective parents are signaling that they do not trust their child. This can create feelings of inadequacy in the child.
What causes possessiveness in a relationship?
Simply put, insecurity causes possessiveness. When one becomes overly possessive and protective, it demonstrates that the person doubts the relationship. This insecurity is presented as a lack of trust. If a person cannot demonstrate confidence in someone else, then how does that person expect to be held in the confidence of others?
How do I stop being overprotective?
- Keep expectations and goals realistic.
- Don't let guilt or fear make you overprotective.
- Don't bail out the child from every mistake.
- Respect the child's need for privacy.
- Don't try to choose your child's friends.
- Allow freedom and privileges based on the child's developmental level.
- Encourage and support independence.
Conditions Caused by Bad Parenting
Lack of Independence
Kids who are unable to make a decision without their parents are usually too afraid to take chances. They have a perception that the world is a dangerous place without the help of their parents.
Depression, Feeling Guilty
By belittling their efforts, parents can inadvertently cause their children to think of themselves as fools and failures.
Inability to relax
An adult who can never relax may not be able to understand children. They often hate immature people.
Extremely Low Self-Esteem
Parents who too often compare their child to more accomplished children will raise a self-critical child that will become an adult with an inferiority complex.
Suppression of Emotions
By denying a child the right to express their emotions, the parents are also suppressing feelings, which can give rise to psychological issues.
Ways People Control Their Children
Parents try to choose the child's friend.
Your child will likely revolt against your choices. They want to feel that they made their friends on their own.
Parents have unrealistic goals.
The child will become stressed and feel like a failure or a fraud even when they're doing well.
Parents don't give their children privacy.
The child is likely to resent you or become overly dependent on you.
Parents make daily choices for their children.
Let your kids make their own choices about what to wear. Don't demand that they like your music or artistic tastes. This will lead to resentment.
Parents don't let their child fail at anything.
Eventually, your child will be an adult and will fail at something. If they don't know how to handle failure, then they are likely to overreact, becoming angry or depressed.
What to do with a child that is out of control?
- You need to remember to take care of yourself. Take care of yourself emotionally and physically, so your children don't end up with that job.
- You need to remember to observe yourself and your relationship patterns. These include your own thinking, feelings, and behavior.
- Set rational and realistic limits and give enforceable consequences.
- Recognize your own contribution to the positive and negative behaviors you see in your child.
Most Common Parenting Mistakes
Under or overdoing it with your kids.
Becoming overindulgent in your children, never giving them space, being too critical, or living through them will only lead to resentment in the long run.
Not getting to know your child.
If you do not know your child, then you will project your own impressions onto your child and this will skew their self-image.
Believing that worrying about your kids will prevent them from harm.
You are not in control of the universe. The more scared you are of everything, the more scared your children are likely to be.
Maintaining expectations that are too low or too high.
Parents often make the mistakes of compartmentalizing their children. Maybe the parent labels their firstborn the "smart kid," the next child "the attractive one," and the youngest one "the social child." This is unfair. Comparing your kids inadvertently gives each of them the message that they are good at only one thing.
Making your children the center of your life.
You may not be taking care of yourself. And, what message do you think that is sending to your children? The message is that life is no fun for adults because adults don't take care of themselves. This makes your child hate the idea of becoming an adult.
Skills Needed to Communicate With Children
- Active listening
- Empathizing with the child's point of view
- Developing trusting relationships
- Understanding non-verbal communication
- Building a consistent rapport
- Explaining, summarizing, and providing useful information
- Giving feedback in a clear way
Do these rules work in other relationships?
Yes. In fact, all of these rules revolve around one core issue, trust. Trust is the base for any healthy relationship. Demonstrating that you trust your children is important. To keep any relationship going, you must trust a person. Trust is one thing that can definitely help you avoid being an overprotective parent, friend, or partner.
- David Stoop and James Masteller (1997-02-10). Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves: Healing Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families. Regal. ISBN 978-0830734238.
- Nancy J. Napier (April 1990). Recreating Your Self: Help for Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families. ISBN 978-0393028423.
- Raising Children Network Staff. "Praise, encouragement and rewards". Raising Children Network. 2011-04-10.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.