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Parents Won't Let High-School Senior Date

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: I am a senior in high school and my parents are very overprotective and will not let me have a boyfriend. I try to show them that I'm responsible and can make my own decisions. I'm trying to be the first kid out of my three sisters to go to college. They just don't understand that I'm trying to make them really happy and show them that I am responsible. Can you tell me what I can do to make them trust me to go out with a guy?

A: It appears that you have shown your parents that you should be trusted to make your own decisions about dating. They are indeed being overprotective. To be sure, they believe that their efforts are in your best interests but you cannot really mature if you can't make your own decisions, even if they conflict with your parents.

If it's difficult to talk to them about this subject, write them a heart-felt letter explaining that your dating at 17 is really not their decision to make. Tell them that you are going to be as responsible in the dating area as you have been in all the other areas of your life. You have learned good values from them. You may make some mistakes but how else can you learn unless you make mistakes along the way. State that they should show you the respect and trust that you have earned and that you are not going to stay away from dating merely because they forbid it.

I understand that you, and certainly they, may think that I am encouraging you to defy your parent's wishes and authority. What I am doing is encouraging you to break away from the overprotective, unfair rule of your parents and to allow yourself to mature socially. You are ready and unless I am missing a vital piece of information you should be allowed the freedom and responsibility to date. Perhaps there are trusted family members or friends of the family who will show their support for you in a non-threatening, non-judgmental way. These decisions take courage but they are part of being an independent young woman. Thanks for writing.

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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

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