Dictator Daddy

14 May

Dear LetterBalm: I’m an A-student going into my senior year in high school, and my father is forcing me to have no social life at all. I’ve never been in trouble, I volunteer in our community, and I participate in lots of activities. But my dad forbids me to date or even go out with my girlfriends in the evenings after dark. I was on the junior prom committee and couldn’t even go. I have to be in by 8 o’clock on school nights. My dad is a single father – he’s raised my younger brother and me since my mom died when we were little – so I understand that he’s protective. But my brother is 14, and he’s allowed to stay out late on weekends. I’m pretty mad at my father now. I’ve tried to tell him this is unfair, but he says boys can have more freedom than girls. What do I do now, besides running away (only kidding)?

–The Teenaged Nun

Well, yesterday we had a father strict with his son, now we have a dad restricting his daughter. It’s tough being a teenager these days, isn’t it? Ms. L.B. advocates the direct approach. Get a sympathetic adult (aunt or uncle? parent of a good friend? your clergyman?) whom your dad respects to sit with you in a private conversation with your father. Rehearse in advance, stay calm and present your arguments maturely – no whining or pleading. And, be sure your brother is out of the house. The last thing you need is a mocking sib:

Daddy, I’ve asked Aunt Nora to sit with us while I talk to you about something that’s really bothering me. You’re a great dad and I know you’ve worked hard to give Kevin and me a good life. But sometimes you treat me like a little kid. I get almost all A’s in school, I’m in all kinds of after-school activities, I do community service, and I’ve never been in trouble. Dad, I know you’d never want to hurt me, but I couldn’t even go to my junior prom – the biggest night of my life so far – because you wouldn’t allow me to, and it devastated me. I’m 16 years old, and I think I’ve shown I’m mature enough to date and go out with my girlfriends in the evenings. I’m not going to run around with a bad crowd, that’s just not me. You know my friends, they’re good girls like me. And, I will always make sure you know any boy I date, where we’re going, what time we’ll be home and important stuff like that. Can we talk about making some rules that both of us can agree on, and can we talk about my getting my drivers license?

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One Response to “Dictator Daddy”

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