Student-Teacher Advice Column: What Do I Do About Strict Parents?

Claire Lawrence, Reporter

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Mrs. Piliere and Reporter Claire are taking your questions and tackling your problems with solid advice. Submit your questions anonymously for their upcoming column

“Sometimes I feel like my mom is the strictest mom in the world! Not about who/what I can hang out with, but in any media I want to listen/watch/read. Any time I want to check out a book from the YA section in the library, she has to check it out and read it first, and if it has so much as one bad word or mention of anything considered not “school appropriate” (drugs, guns, etc.) she won’t let me read it. I am a huge musical nerd, and recently I found a musical I liked and was listening to for a while- it has great songs! When she found out, she had to listen to the whole thing with her same book rules, and ended up deleting all the songs off of my playlist! I’ve tried talking to her multiple times, but she always shoots me down, saying that “I already let you listen to plenty of things age appropriate, isn’t that enough?” Non of my friend’s parents are as strict as her, and it really gets on my nerves. How do you think I can talk to her and try to negotiate a deal without her still being so condescending? (sorry for the word overload)”

 

Kid perspective:

Many students and kids our age tend to feel restricted by parents. For the most part, all you’ll want is a bit of freedom to choose what you look at. Sadly, this freedom and trust have to be earned with many strict parents. Many parents care so much about their kids that sometimes they can be overbearing without knowing. Most parents still believe that middle school students shouldn’t be subjected to things that aren’t school appropriate.

It’s hard for them to understand that many other kids in your school already understand and talk about these things. They maintain the mentality that you need to be introduced to these things slowly and when you are older.  This can be very frustrating, but sometimes you should try to understand your parent. They may not want you to read or listen to slightly inappropriate content because they have not been shown that you are mature enough to fully understand these concepts. In that case, you may want to wait or try to begin acting mature around them. Many kids nowadays joke about things such as drugs and guns because they don’t fully understand the concept. Your parent might not want to let you see those things in the media until you understand them enough to take them seriously.

When my brother or I used to be frustrated about restrictions my mother put on us, she would remind us that she would let us see those things when she saw that we could understand them and that we could be responsible enough to focus on things more important, too. For example, you need to know how to prioritize homework and school over hobbies sometimes. When my mother found we were maturing and becoming responsible and the correct age, she loosened up and let us be freer.

When attempting to convince your mother, I would recommend sitting her down and having a mature conversation, explaining your thinking to her clearly. If you choose to write a note, make sure that it is handwritten neatly and well thought out. Explain your unhappiness nicely and persuasively. However, your mother may still wish for you to be restricted, and if she denies your request, don’t throw a fit. Take it well and show her that you can be knowledgeable. Know that your mom is just trying to look out for you, and be grateful she cares even when she seems unreasonably aggressive.

 

Hi there,

The adult perspective here. I think it’s difficult for us adults to remember what it feels like to be limited in what we do and have access to. Here’s the response you probably know deep inside and that I feel obligated to tell you: your mom is limiting your access to these things because she is trying to preserve your childhood.

As adults, we have pressures on our shoulders that we work our hardest to hide from our kids; it’s not that we think you can’t handle it, it’s more than we think you shouldn’t have to. We want you to have a childhood, and preserve your innocence for as long as humanly possible before you have to go out and face the realities of the world. It always helps me when I feel like I’m being subjected to unfairness to figure out the motivation of the other person, and in this case, it seems pretty clear that your mom is coming from a place of protection. Fortunately (and sometimes it may seem “unfortunately”), it’s a parent’s prerogative as to what they let you read, listen to, watch, and do. It sounds like you’ve tried communicating with your mom in the heat of the moment in the past, so my advice would be to think of a compromise you’d be willing to make, and propose that to your mom in a well-thought-out letter. Extra credit if the letter is hand-written on nice stationery. Do your best to acknowledge your mom’s concerns, recognize that you know she is coming from a place of love and protection, and respectfully request that she reconsider in a few areas. Give her time to process your thoughts, and then have a mature discussion with her, making sure that you take time to REALLY listen to what she’s saying.

Always avoid sarcasm or annoyance in situations like these, as they never seem to improve the situation. If you do your best to approach this with thoughtfulness and a clear head, you can comfortably say that you’ve done all you can. The rest is up to your mom, but I have a feeling that at the very least, she will truly appreciate your mature approach. Wishing you luck! Please remember that this is all temporary, and before you know it, you’ll have those pressures that we adults have on your shoulders, too (along with the freedom to access whatever you want). Also, remember that us adults are sometimes really annoying and that it’s mainly because we care!