DEAR KELLY: My parents have a fifth wheel parked at our house. Recently, me and my boyfriend got caught in it by my dad. My dad didn’t believe us that all we were doing was kissing, so he called my boyfriend’s parents and had them come over and we all had a “talk” that night.
They agreed that we are no longer allowed to be left alone or allowed to be in each other’s rooms – at any time – and that we are only allowed to sit in the living room when we go to each other’s houses. We asked if we can go on walks together or to the park, and they said no for now. So, basically, we have no time alone except when we sit together at school.
Recently, my good friend had a bunch of friends over and it was just supposed to be a kickback, but with her parents there, so no drinking or stuff. My parents were cool with it but when my boyfriend’s parents found out we were both going to be there they called my friend’s mom and told her everything that had happened and how we are not allowed to be left alone. I was really mad because I don’t think it was her right to tell other people what happened with our lives and to say things that are so personal.
When my friend’s mom told me that she knew everything, she said that she had to follow the rules and that we couldn’t even sit out at the pool by ourselves while everyone was in watching a movie because my boyfriend’s mom said we were never to be left alone. It put her in a totally weird place because she said she wouldn’t have cared and it didn’t seem like a big deal, but she was afraid my boyfriend’s mom would check and find out we were alone, then make a big deal of it.
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I’m so mad because she is making such a huge deal over this when all we were doing was kissing and stuff, it’s not like we were caught having sex.
What should I do? My friend thinks I should confront his parents on how strict they are being and how they overreacted, but I don’t know if that will help or just make things worse.
DEAR TP: Let’s begin with the obvious. Confronting his parents is not a good idea. Ever. Apologizing for what happened? Yes. Asking them to give you a chance to rebuild trust? Yes. Telling them they are overreacting and being too strict? Never. You need to refocus your emotions and work more on respecting their rules than on making them see your point.
Whether or not you agree or not with the rules both your parents set, you have to follow them if you ever want them to support your relationship. You need to take some ownership of what happened instead of playing the blame game and making the adults out to be the bad guys for setting relationship boundaries.
My guess is that they reacted more about the “stuff” than about the kissing. Using the fifth wheel as your spot for alone time sent both you and your boyfriend’s parents’ antennas up. Whether or not you intended to have sex when you went into the trailer isn’t the point. The fear for both parents is probably that you could get caught up with your feelings, things could move very fast and you might make choices for which you aren’t prepared.
Yes, I’m implying sex. You might not plan on having sex, but when we act impulsively we usually aren’t thinking responsibly or of future consequences. We just think about the moment and the feeling in that moment. That’s where we can get in trouble with things like pregnancy or unprotected sex.
While I can respect the fact that you don’t want people to know your business, the reality is that her son is her business and you are a participating partner in her concerns. Hopefully you continue to follow their rules. The longer you guys fight the rules or get caught being sneaky or disrespectful, the longer it will take for his parents to move forward.
Stay out of the trailer. Take your lumps for getting caught. Agree to follow the rules even if they are frustrating and seem unfair to you. Be polite and humble when you see his parents. Work on rebuilding trust instead of pushing his parents away with your actions. Be smart about how you handle this because your future actions will determine the future of your relationship with him and his family.
Kelly Richardson, a Folsom therapist, works with adolescents.