Social Question

kimothyschma's avatar

How do I stand up to my parents and maintain my relationship with them?

Asked by kimothyschma (180points) October 18th, 2010

I have been with my boyfriend for 3 years. Our relationship is serious and we want to move in together. I am 22 years old and still depend on my parents for a lot of things, like my taxes and being on their phone plan and insurance and using their car. They are strict, conservative Catholics and don’t believe in sex before marriage and they are always talking about what a shame it is that my cousin lives with her boyfriend. I have never done anything to go against them in my life. I hide the fact that I am sexually active, agnostic, and many of my political beliefs from them for this reason. I am afraid of how they will react if I tell them we want to move in together and because I have never tested these boundaries I have no idea what their reaction will be. I’m not afraid of losing the material things (although it would be inconvenient) as much as I am of ruining our relationship, which is very good right now and very important to me.

How would you broach the subject? Am I being silly for being so nervous about this and if so how do I get over it?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

21 Answers

marinelife's avatar

1. You should plan on losing the material things.

2. Your relationship may well take a hit although hopefully it will be temporary. The question is how important is it to you to move in with your boyfriend. If it is important enough to tell your parents, then you had better gird your loins for their reaction, which you know will not be favorable.

tearsxsolitude's avatar

I would first find a solid way in which you can be supported before you say anything to them, just in case they do take away some of your privlages with them. Then I would approach them very respectfully and tell them how you feel and that you’re ready to think on your own. Or something along those lines. It’s a very hard thing to do but necissary to be you. Hope everything works out for you =]

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

This is one of the toughest parts of the transition from dependent adult child to self-sufficient adult. As @marinelife pointed out, taking on the freedom to choose how you live and what you believe is right for you is most often associated with the loss of many of the financial and material perquisites (perks) of living under your parent’s roof and rules. Eventually, you will discover some balancing point between the freedoms you want and the immediate family costs of asserting your right to those freedoms. It can be a bumpy ride but if you are prepared for the responsibilities that necessarily come with those freedoms, you will make the transition successfully. If you continue to show respect for your parents, in most cases, they will come to respect you and your choices even though they may continue to disagree with many of your ideas, beliefs and choices.

lynfromnm's avatar

At some point you’re going to have to come clean with your parents about all of the issues you’ve been silent about. It’s either that or doom yourself to leading a double life. As long as you are dependent upon them, you have few options, but when you start taking on those other responsibilities, you will be an adult. You can’t really be an adult with your own opinions and beliefs, in your parents’ eyes, until you are functionally independent of them.

I would start by saying “I have a different perspective” or “I don’t see that the way you do” when they make statements you disagree with. Be sure to maintain a respectful attitude. They may respond that you don’t know what you’re talking about, and if so, reply “Maybe not, but it’s time for me to find out on my own.” Don’t respond angrily if they get angry with you, but acknowledge their fears or objections and remind them respectfully that it is your life, and you need to make your own mistakes. You hope they’ll be cheering your on and available for advice, but they have to understand you won’t always take the road they want you to.

Meanwhile, find a way to pay for your own care and insurance or prepare for doing without it.

Pandora's avatar

They will no doubt be disappointed but and your relationship will change. But at least it will be a more honest relationship. I think in the long run they will appreciate not being kept in the dark.
I am not always happy with my childrens choices but I don’t love them any less for them. Short of committing murder or some horrible crime or doing drugs, I think you will survive this transition.
Best way to tell them is be up front. However, I would be careful and break things to them that they absolutely need to know. They do not need to know your religous or political views. Right now the one concern that you need to voice is your intent to take your relationship to the next level. No need to look for a fight in other areas. They may then feel convinced that it is your relationship that has changed your view and will create more problems with your boyfriend. They will forgive you, they may not forgive the man who is ruining their daughter. So best to leave the rest for another time when they whole heartly have accepted your relationship.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Before making any plans to move away from your parents, I’d usually suggest becoming financially independent and then show them you can be consistently responsible for those billls but… in your case I think your folks are getting discounts because of you. If you’ll be able to handle the expenses on your own and as independent adult then go ahead and announce you’d like to move out on your own.

They’ll probably suss it out of you that there’s a guy involved and that’s okay if you can take care of yourself from here on out, your a grown up after all. I don’t see why you need to get into your individual religious bents with them at the same time, I’d keep that to yourself unless directly asked about it.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

This is going to be painfully blunt: if you are 22 and still depending on your parents for that many things, they still have the right to control you. When I was 22, I was married, had a baby, my own car, and I paid for my mortgage, my insurance, my taxes, my phones, and everything else that we needed. Now, if you’re a full-time college student, I can understand you needing a small amount of help, like living at home and having financial help with a few things. But still driving their car, them paying your insurance and your phone bill and taxes…. that’s entirely too much.

You’re basically getting a free ride, and unless you plan to completely take over your own life and finances, you have no room to complain about “inconvenience”.

That being said, I’ve had issues of my own with a controlling mother, and I wish you luck.

BratLady's avatar

Sorry but if you’re still dependent on your parents it’s there say. If you want to live your life and maintain a relationship with them you need to be independent. You’ll never change their beliefs so after you start paying your own bills you can tell them you respect them but have to make your own mistakes in life.

john65pennington's avatar

First and most important question of all…........are you a gambler?

Not all parents act the same way, when they hear the news you are about to spring on them. i would be prepared for the worst, but pray for the best.

Second, is your bf really worth this sacrifice? if so, you are 22 years old, an adult. you must prepare yourself also for the adult world of give and take.

You know your parents better than anyone here on Fluther.

Again, are you a gambler? i wish you good luck on leaving the nest.

MissPoovey's avatar

I have a question about your question.
Are there reasons you do not marry the boyfriend of 3 years? That is the one thing to keep you relationship with your parents the way it is.
I, unlike a few of the other respondents, am interpreting your question is more about maintaining the relationship, rather than the material goods. How they will be so upset over the lack of marriage when cohabitating. So, I am asking why not marriage?

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@MissPoovey The only reason I was focusing on the “material goods” part of the question is because if she were taking care of herself like an adult should, instead of having her parents still taking care of her, this question likely wouldn’t exist.

MissPoovey's avatar

I am sorry, but it would. If the relationship with her parents is hurt. She is asking how not to hurt that bond, not just about be independent.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@MissPoovey I get that, but she’s the one who brought her financial status into and said it would be “inconvenient” to lose her parents’ money. I’ve recently had issues with my own mother, but I had the right to have those issues because I’m not financially dependent on my mother. If she were still paying for my life, I would’ve kept my mouth shut.

I’m just saying, if her parents are still sheltering her and paying for everything she has, they have the right to control her comings and goings. If she moves out and takes charge of her own life, as well she should at the age of 22, then she can have a talk with her parents about all their differences.

kimothyschma's avatar

Thanks for the responses, guys. I brought my financial status into it because I really can’t survive alone at this point, but I can clear a few things up. I am not really living at home. I live in a dorm at my school, and I have a full scholarship that covers tuition and housing. Over the summers I sublet an apartment to avoid moving home, where I pay for all rent and utilities. I visit home about once a week. I pay for all of my food, clothes, books and school supplies, and I co-op every other quarter (paid). I’m in my last year of school and it’s kind of understood that I will have to get my own insurance and phone and get my own “permanent” apartment when I graduate and get a job. I don’t have one lined up yet which is what makes me doubt the intelligence of dredging this up just yet in case I need a home base.

@MissPoovey, you are right about what I really meant to ask. Sorry for clouding it up with the other factors. I’m just trying to describe the situation thoroughly. You’re also right about getting married. We really do want to get married, and it would be fine with me if we did now. I wanted to wait until I graduated and my boyfriend really wants to save up for a ring before he officially proposes. He also has debt he wanted to pay off first. I guess those are kind of lame reasons, though… the other problem is that he is not christian and we will probably not be allowed to be married in a catholic church. I think my parents will want a catholic wedding and I’m not sure how it will all happen or who to ask about it. They like him though and I think they would be happy to see me marry him.

A few of you seem to think I am woefully dependent… would it be wrong to expect them to pay for a wedding, too? Or should we just do it at city hall and disappoint my whole family? Because we will never be able to afford a real wedding on our own.

I have waited this long waffling over the moving in together question (solely because of my parents’ views), maybe I just have to suck it up and get married first.

@WillWorkForChocolate I am aware that I owe them a lot. Which is why I have always done what they wanted. I am just thinking about bringing this up.

BarnacleBill's avatar

As you might summize from the answers so far, you cannot expect to go against your parents and expect them to maintain support for you. I will caution that going from living with your parents to living with your boyfriend is not a good idea. You should probably go from living with your parents to living on your own, to living with your boyfriend. If you cannot live on your own, you are trading one trap for another trap. If things don’t work out with your boyfriend, then you are even more screwed with your parents than they seem to be now.

In cases like this, it’s best to prepare for the worst, and hope for the best. If you can’t see yourself living on your own six months from now, in the event that your relationship with your boyfriend falls apart because of the stress of living together ( and it can be stressful, and relationships do fall apart because of living together), then you need to stay home, and figure out a way to gain more financial independence from your parents before you move out.

Ideally, you should have $5000 – $7000 in the bank before you move out to insure that you will not have to move back in.

MissPoovey's avatar

Parents usually enjoy paying for the wedding, against all common sense and popular belief. It makes parents feel very good inside to take care of the ceremony that “turns you into a wife”. So yes as long it is to someone they approve of, they will most likely pay for it.
Do not marry until you are ready, you dont sound very ready. JMO
Also, I agree with the previous poster, you should go on your own before going from parents to boyfriend/husband.
Thank you for understanding my points of view and I wish you luck.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Be very calm and matter-of-fact, regardless of how upset your parents get. Calmly explain your reasoning and remind them that you are 22 years old and can make your own decisions. Stress that you do NOT want to damage your relationship with them and that you are willing to talk with them about this issue anytime. Eventually, they’ll come around, although it may take awhile.

Pandora's avatar

I believe you can both get married in a catholic church so long as one of you is catholic. However since you no longer feel inclined to the belief, it will probably make you feel like a hypocrite.
If you explain to them what you said here, about wanting to wait because of finances, then I’m sure they will understand. If they already like him then I don’t think they see religion as a big deal.
If my daughter dated someone for 3 years, I would assume at some point they would get together and maybe move in or get married. I’m sure they are already prepared for such a thing happening.

jrpowell's avatar

Just tell your parents you want to find your own place. Forget to tell your parents the boyfriend moved in the next day. I’m actually not joking. I advocate not telling the entire story all the time when confronted with irrational parents.

Haleth's avatar

My sister stood up to our parents about certain things but still has a relationship with them. The things she did right were: she disagreed in a respectful way about the things that were really important to her, and she did other things to make the parents proud, like having good grades in school. I think this applies in your situation. If you can make steps toward adulthood, like paying more of your own expenses and completing your education, they’ll be more likely to treat you as an adult. It shows that you can take the bad stuff about adulthood (responsibility and bills) along with the good (living with your boyfriend.) I wish you the best- it would be really sad if your parents dropped the relationship over religious differences or values. They’re still your parents.

kimothyschma's avatar

Thanks everyone

Answer this question




to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther