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I'm a 14 year old boy living with both my parents.

I'm often talking to my friends about something, rather it's about what they did yesterday and about what just happened. A lot of times it seems like they can do a lot more than what I'm allowed to do and their parents are a lot less strict than mine.

One example could be my bedtime. I recently was able to get my bedtime extended slightly by 30min to 10pm on school nights for me and my twin sister. Though almost everyone I know who's my age either don't have a set bedtime, or have a much later bedtime. I understand (as my parents have told me every time I ask for more freedom) "Every family is different" and I agree with that, but at some point I feel like I'm the only one with these rules in my group of friends.

Another example could be how many restrictions I have. In my family, my parents control a lot of the things I do and when I do them. An example of that could be that I only have x screen time a day or I have to go to every day of ski training during the week even though I might want to skip a session so I can hang out with a friend.

There's many other example but I'm only going to list those two. My main question is: How can I express to my parents that I feel like I should have more freedom, and have them take me more seriously?

  • Do you "need" more freedom, or are you just jealous of your friends? All of these sounds like you just want what your friends have, and that's not going to get you far. – Erik Oct 29 '17 at 6:50
  • What time do you get up in the morning? Any shift during the weekend? On average at your age 8-8,5 hours is needed and parents tend to look at how much energy you have for school (and how easy it is to get you out of your bed in the morning, non-cranky.) Also any serious sport engagement tends to change things, sometimes considerably. – Bookeater Oct 29 '17 at 7:12
  • What time zone are you on? Hopefully Vancouver-ish. – Bookeater Oct 29 '17 at 7:14
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    @Erik: In defense of teenagers (I used to be in a similar position when I was that age), they can only really address issues by pointing out that the thing they think is unfair is not the norm. That logically requires the OP to point at other teenagers who are not subjected to the same rules. Similarly, I can argue that my salary should be equal to that of my colleagues, not because I'm jealous of my colleagues, but because I want a fair wage for someone in my position. For subjective things like wages or parental rules, all you can really do is point at the norm and how you deviate from it. – Flater Oct 30 '17 at 15:27
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Parents, like bosses, respond better to requests for specific things (I want more screen time, or I want to cut back on ski-ing) than to general things (I want more freedom.) So it's fine that you're seeing the connection between these desires, but when it comes time to arrange them, it's better to stay specific. And in fact, there's a big difference between "I want to stay up and play games or talk to people" and "ski-ing is not as important to me as it is to you." For one thing, the first is far more easily reversed if it doesn't turn out well.

At work, one way to get promoted is to start doing the new job. I don't mean start staying up late, though. Right now, do you have to be pried out of bed in the mornings? Are your parents putting in a lot of work waking you, prodding you to shower, dress, eat, asking you if you have all your school stuff? If so, work on that end of the deal first. Ask for an alarm clock if you don't have one. Wake up and get through your morning routine on your own initiative. Surprise them. If you spot an opportunity to do something extra, like tidying your room or getting ahead on some other regular chore, do it.

If your parents are controlling your bedtime because waking you is a lot of work, this may get them to stop. Or, if they are controlling your bedtime because they see you as still a little child, this may change their view of you. Of course, it may have no effect, but these are skills you need to develop to be an adult in this world, so you might as well develop and demonstrate them.

The ski-ing is more complicated. Are you trying to make a particular level or team? Are you working towards a particular goal that requires such a level of commitment? Is that a goal you want to reach? Or is this something they chose for you that you would rather just do recreationally? Olympians typically sacrifice their social lives for their sport, but that doesn't mean you need to. That said, if you don't want to ski so much, you don't arrange that by saying, one Tuesday half an hour before you're supposed to leave for the hill, "I'd like to skip practice today." Instead you need to chat with your parents over dinner or in the evening (when you're all caught up on everything including homework and chores) about the role of this sport in your life. You need to know, before you start this conversation, if you want to quit the sport entirely, or drop down to recreation, or just skip the occasional practice a few times a month. You also need to know if it's possible to stay at this level with the occasional skip (a chat with your coach or with fellow skiers, especially those who don't ski every day, might be good research) by making it up in the morning, or going longer some days, or doing weight training at lunchtime. When you talk to your parents about this, make sure you focus on what you want to do (go out in the evenings with your friends once or twice a month) not what you don't want to do (ski every day.) If they say "but you'll never make nationals if you skip a day" you can either reply "I don't want to make nationals" or "Coach Judy says once or twice a month would be ok, especially since I'm doing weights three times a week now in the middle of the day." (You cannot possibly be the first 14 year old who felt the pressure of a social life against a ski-every-day practice routine.)

And resist the urge to tie it all together into how they control everything you do including when you get up, when you sleep, what you eat, and what sports you do. That might sound like an important complaint to raise. But imagine a two year old saying that. The parents would laugh. "Of course we do! You're a toddler!" Sure, you're not a toddler any more. But it takes time for parents to notice that, and they may consider a 14 year old still a very young child. They will start to let you make more choices over the next few years - each family has their own pace for this - but it will be because you've shown you can make and execute good choices, not because you have stomped your feet and demanded your almost-adult rights.

  • Thank you for the advice. At the moment I'm not trying to make any particular ski team. To be honest, in my team im not close to being one of the best skiers, which for me is part of the reason why I'm not that committed to it, except my parents don't seem to realize that and so far this year they have made me go to almost all training(the actually skiing hasn't started yet, only training in the gym.) Though I think I have communicated with them that this will be my last year skiing and next year I will be to busy as im going into high school. – Matthew N Oct 29 '17 at 17:11
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Freedom and responsibility go hand in hand. Convincing your parents that you should have more freedom means convincing them that you are responsible enough to handle those freedoms.

Before discussing anything with your parents, consider what responsibilities you are currently shouldering, and how responsible you are about handling them. Do you need to be nagged to get your homework done? How do you spend your allowance? When you clean the dishes do rinse then once and then leave them to dry, or do you carefully inspect them for any food particles that might have escaped your sponge? If you find any lapses then start working to correct them before discussing anything with your parents. Your goal is to convince them that you are successfully managing your current responsibilities. You don't have to be perfect (everone hates housework), but if you know that your patches have specific pet peeves then pay special attention to eliminating them.

Secondly, consider what additional responsibilities you would be willing to take on. You are asking for additional freedom after all - a willingness to pay for it goes a long way. Volunteering for additional duties sells a lot better than bargaining with them, and increases your chances of being able to pick tasks that you find less onerous.

Thirdly, consider what responsibilities come with the freedoms you are asking for. Controlling your bed time comes with the responsibility of getting enough sleep. Controlling when you go to ski lessons comes with the responsibility of learning to ski. Staying out late comes with the responsibility of letting your parents know where you are and that you're okay. Show your parents that you have considered these responsibilities and are prepared to meet them.

If you feel that a specific restriction is unfair, ask your parents why they consider it necessary. Do not voice your opinions on its fairness - instead wait to hear their reasoning and try to adress the specific points they raise. Acknowledge that their concern is valid (a parent's concern for their child is always valid, even if the specific worry they are expressing is ridiculous), but explain why you feel it is unnecessary in this case. If you cannot convince them that their worries are unnecessary, discuss with them what it would take to alleviate those worries. Try to establish concrete, measurable goals.

Finally, the best way to show that you are responsible is to start doing tasks that you aren't responsible for, purely because they need to be done. Take the trash out when it's full. Refill the soap dispenser. Organize the pots and pans. Noticing unfilled needs is harder than doing assigned chores, but it sends a powerful message, and often the tasks themselves are less work.

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I'm going to approach this a little differently because I've been both the angsty teenager and the concerned parent.

When I was your age I had a lot of freedom, much like some of your friends seem to. I didn't have a bedtime, I only had a "recommend" curfew, and I didn't have any required extra curricular activities.

What did I do with this freedom? Well, what most kids from my era with that much freedom did. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Obviously it was fun at the time, but I did get into an awful lot of trouble. I routinely took dangerous risks and put myself in bad situations. By the time I was 16 I had been kicked out of three schools and had been arrested more than once.

With all that in mind, I made an effort to raise my kids differently. I tried not to be a task master, but they definitely had bedtimes, curfews, and extracurricular activities. As they grew up into teenagers I became more watchful not less, because the consequences for teenagers become more serious. Little kids, little problems. Big kids, big problems.

What I'm trying to say here is that there are some really good reasons that your parents have these rules and restrictions. Their goal is to teach you how to be a responsible adult and keep you safe and out of trouble till you are a responsible adult. Your primary goal at the moment is probably more along the lines of having fun with your friends and/or chasing romance and crushes. These goals are obviously going to clash sometimes, right?

So, the question becomes, what can you do to get a little more freedom for fun times, but still stay on that whole responsible adult track?

Start showing your parents that you're legitimately interested in doing the responsible things. Start working towards goals like saving money for your first car, getting into a good college, and so on. Parents worry a lot less about the kid who's driven to succeed.

They'll likely be more flexible with the occasional night out, when you show the good judgement to want to head to bed early when you have class the next day.

Basically the more you show them that you're setting healthy goals and rules for your self, the less they'll feel the need to set goals and rules for you.

Hang in there kid. Another 4-8 years of school and being responsible will set you on a path towards having a lot more fun for the following 50-60 years. It's really a small price to pay.

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