Teen Talk

Lying to parents compounds a bad situation

DEAR KELLY: I’m a senior in high school and my boyfriend went to college this year. My parents let me go see him a few weeks ago. I also have good friends who go there too, so my parents thought I would just be crashing with them. My friends knew I was coming, but the plan was I was going to sleep in my boyfriend’s dorm room. My boyfriend OK’d it with his roommate, and everything was good.

The weekend before I came up, a bunch of kids had a party in the dorms and got busted. The day I got there, the dorms had just posted a letter telling everyone that due to some “circumstances” no one who wasn’t a dorm resident was allowed to sleep in the dorms that weekend. They threatened to kick kids out of the dorms if they had unapproved guests and wouldn’t let anyone stay after 10 p.m.

We didn’t know what to do because I had told my parents I was sleeping with my friends, and I couldn’t sleep with anyone who lived in the dorms. So that night I ended up sleeping in my car in the dorm parking lot, which was safe and well lit. I had my phone, and I could text or call my boyfriend all night if anything happened, but nothing did.

Things were fine until a few days ago, when my mom bumped into my friend’s mom at the store whose daughter was one of the girls my mom thought I was staying with. My mom mentioned that it was nice I got to stay with her daughter. Her mom told my mom that she didn’t think I had stayed there because of the whole dorm rule thing and no visitors could sleep there.

When I got home, my mom asked me where I slept, and I lied and told her in the dorms with my friends. When she told me what the other mom told her, I admitted that I had slept in the parking lot and said it wasn’t a big deal. She freaked out and got so angry. When my dad got home, she told him and he freaked out, too. It turned into a total disaster, and my parents were mad not only at me, but now they are really angry with my boyfriend for letting me sleep in my car.

Kelly, what was he supposed to do? There was nothing we could do. It’s not like he kicked me out or anything. He didn’t have a choice, and we thought we were doing the smarter thing rather than risking me getting caught in his room and him getting kicked out of the dorms.

My parents still are angry, and I don’t know what to do. Nothing happened to me when I slept in my car. I was totally safe. Now they are saying that I can’t ever go visit him or my friends again and that they can’t trust me. Do you have any advice? I feel bad, but my boyfriend isn’t to blame and I think my parents are overreacting to the whole safety thing.

Not Sure What I Really

Did Wrong

DEAR NOT SURE: Let me help you clarify what you did wrong: You made some bad choices that put you in danger of being harmed, and you lied to your parents when they trusted you enough to let you go visit your friends in college. You then chose to lie to your mom’s face when she asked where you slept, and you got caught. While you can downplay the whole thing and say that “nothing happened,” the reality is that you didn’t use good judgment and you put yourself in a sketchy situation that could have gotten you hurt. You got lucky nothing happened, but your parents’ reaction feels appropriate and very justified.

What could have you done differently? You could have called your parents and shared with them the dorm rule that got posted when you arrived and asked them for help. Perhaps they would have found you a hotel room for the evening or found someone they know who lived close by and called to see if you could stay there. Maybe they could have called the dorm administrator and shared the conflict to see if you could have stayed in the one of the girls’ rooms as a “registered guest.” Had you been upfront about what was happening from the beginning, things might have been different and you could have had better options with your parents’ input and assistance.

As a young female, sleeping in your car should not be a “go-to” option in situations like this. Your boyfriend was not considerate or thoughtful to let his girlfriend sleep in a parking lot, with drunk college kids walking by all night while he slept in his warm, comfy bed. I can see why your parents are disenchanted with him.

Are you sure you’re being honest that he slept in his dorm room and not in your car with you? I’m not sure you are not trying to cover up one mistake with another. If you think you are helping the situation by telling your parents he didn’t sleep with you in the car, they might be more upset by his lack of concern for your safety. Be honest with your parents – with whatever happened – and be understanding of their reaction to all of your choices.

Stop defending what happened and take your lumps. Admit you made some mistakes. Apologize for lying and deceiving your parents. Your boyfriend should consider calling to apologize to your parents as well. Begin to rebuild trust with your parents by being honest about where you are going and what you are doing. Being honest is more than just not lying. It is about being trustworthy, having integrity and respecting other people’s trust in you. At the very least, your parents are owed that.

Write to Kelly Richardson at Teen Talk, The Sacramento Bee, P.O. Box 15880, Sacramento, CA 95852, or email krichardson@sacbee.com.