I have a friend that I'm quite close to and I'm in danger of loosing her as a friend. Her parents are very strict and protective in spite of her being 19, they let her go out as often as my parents let me go out when I was 14; even less so.

Before in school it was fine because we saw each other everyday. I didn't mind as much when she had to cancel plans last minute for some reason due to her parents (pressure to study/work on her portfolio, needing her to cook for and babysit her 14 yr old brother) even when we planned the event well in advance.

The outings we organised and she had to cancel were mainly meeting for coffee or food or to exchange presents and were in safe neighbourhoods near to her house or on her bus line: no nights out drinking. So there was no reason for her parents to feel as though it was not safe for her to go out.

But now I have moved on my own to study in a different country. When I announced I was moving she said many a times that she would visit even though we both knew it would never happen (due to her protective parents). So I visited home a couple of times so that we could still meet up. Only the times I've come home she hasn't been able to make it in spite of months of planning. Others in our friend group gave out to her one of the times for the silly excuse of having to make dinner for 14 year old brother while her parents were working that night. There was apparently no way she could make the food and ask her brother to heat it up later or get him to order food in. She then felt quite attacked and felt as though we were judging her family so we backed off.

I don't know what to do to salvage our friendship. Since I've moved it's been difficult to keep her in a conversation online. I had hoped that her visiting me and getting a taste of the independent lifestyle would maybe inspire her to demand more freedom from her parents. But even after finding the perfect dates for her to visit and even offering to pay for everything, her parents still refuse to let her come.

Some times I worry as though she has stopped asking for permission and everything has become and automatic "my parents say I can't". What if she is just using her parents as an excuse and doesn't want to hang out with me anymore?

I once thought I could help her "break free from the tight clutches of her parents" but because of them, we've become so distant that it's not my place to even suggest that she contradict her parents judgement (it doesn't seem as though she believes her parents are wrongly denying her of any freedom).

How do I tell her that her parents are getting in the way of our friendship without coming off as judgmental of her parents or family?


4 Answers 4


If she can't even clear one evening to see a friend who came to visit from afar it doesn't appear that she values this friendship as much as you do. It may be impossible to salvage a relationship when only one person is interested in salvaging it.

I would recommend having a heart to talk to her about it. Don't be too judgmental and don't emphasize the parents; her parents are her business. Focus on your relationship with her and how her inability to meet you makes you feel. If she brings up the parents at that point say something like:

This was planned month(s) in advance, it just doesn't seem like it would have been absolutely impossible for you to work something out. I planned all the stuff, came over here from [place], offered to pay for everything, it just doesn't seem fair that you can't even clear one evening for this.

See what she says. There maybe a cultural thing going on or something else. If the reasons sound important there may still be hope, if she keeps making excuses or gets defensive, deflects and so on, well you have your answer to the question of "Is it worth it?"


I know this is far to old to be of any use to the OP but maybe useful for other people. When at school I had a friend whose parents were like this, so I used to visit her at her house, her parents knew what we were doing and as long as it was only once or twice a week everything was fine.


As one grows older, friends can come and go and come again. It is not predictable. I suggest you do what you can to keep in touch with her, however don't over do it. Maybe she will make it back to you when she is ready, and maybe you will both have moved on by then.

As a 50 year old, I have had best friends for 10 years, and then they just sort of fade away. While newer acquaintances turn into close friends. Life ebbs and flows - there is just so much we can control.

Perhaps your need to keep her close is not as great as her need to keep you close. That does not make her a bad person nor bad friend. It is just a fact of life.

There are times when doing nothing is actually the best choise


You can neither change her parents nor you can change her, because she is already an adult with formatted mindset.

I had that kind of friend in the past, who was overprotected by parents. After school, when all our friends went to college in other cities, he was the one who stayed with his parents in our home city and he was ok with that.

So is your friend. She is ok with her situation. Maybe you overestimate the bounds between you two? The situation when she couldn't make it to meet you even after all arrangements is the proof that she is not interested in changes.

I left my friend as he is and he is ok now, living with his parents. I admire your will to break her out, but it's a good scenery for film, not real life. Maybe you just have to let her go as a person or give her less attention.

  • 3
    Almost nobody has a "formated mindset", ever. It just happens that often the changes throughout life are subtle enough to go unnoticed by oneself and the social network, especially when they all follow roughly the same path (same school, same or similar job, whilst living in the same social context). And when one actually has a "formated mindset" it has nothing to do with age. Other than that, good answer.
    – user6005
    Apr 27, 2018 at 18:00

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