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I'm 24 years old, have my own career, my own car but I live with my parents and my 2 younger brothers. I live my life quite independently.

One of the problems I constantly face from my parents is them treating me like a child by constantly asking me where I'm going when I'm heading out. When I arrive home late sometimes they are ringing me to ask where I am and what time I am coming home. I don't feel like I'm being respected like an adult in the household.

I have my own bedroom which is fine, we have a back door which I can come through but I still have to pass through the main lounge to get to my bedroom. There is no way I can secretly do anything in this house so that's out the equation. I do come home late sometimes, when I'm out with friends mostly but its very rare that I do. The problem is not about noise or lateness, I'm an adult now and they need to accept that. Sometimes I'm on my way to the gym and they ask me before I leave the house where I'm going, it gets really frustrating.

It gets really embarrassing when I'm out with friends and I get calls from them, it puts me off pretty bad.

This makes me feel like I'm being treated as a child, so my question is: How can I ask my parents to stop constantly calling me when I'm out or asking me where I'm going before I go out?

I want to do this without getting too confrontational. We've had discussions about this in the past and they got pretty heated as I got really frustrated that they see things in such a narrow minded way. They said they only do it because they care, which I understand but I want them to change their treatment of me regardless.

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    @user3574492 Why do you live at home? If you cannot afford to get your own place, it might make sense to add this information to the question. Otherwise, just get your own place :) What I mean is, the reason why you are still living at home can greatly influence what a good answer might constitute. – Wilbert Nov 24 '17 at 16:43
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    This topic can have cultural differeces because parents phone-calling their adult daughter (or son) when they are late to return is very common and typical in cultures like India. To get culture-appropriate answers and avoid confused responses please specify your culture and add the appropriate region or country tag @3574492. If you want to be relatively general and specify something like 'South Asia' for example, I can use the opportunity to create the 'South Asia' tag which has been waiting to be born since October 2017. – English Student Nov 24 '17 at 19:03
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    Are you paying them rent? Are you contributing to household expense as if you were a boarder? If not, you are a child living under your parents roof, regardless of your age and life-style. – user6355 Nov 24 '17 at 19:50
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    @Vector I pay them money every month, this contributes to bills, expenses, food, shopping and general living costs etc... – user3574492 Nov 24 '17 at 19:54
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    @user3574492 - what would happen if you lost your job and stopped paying? Would you be evicted? Do you have a formal arrangement with them, or are you just 'chipping in'? – user6355 Nov 25 '17 at 6:08
42

Well, I'm a 26-year-old, and I'm also still living with my parents. These struggles are there, but they can be resolved.

I moved back in after living on my own for 4 years, because after graduating university I had a parttime job lined up in my home-town, and no work in the city I studied at.

The first weeks were hell. I had to completely readjust to living with 2 brothers and 'rules' again. One of the most annoying things was, indeed, the fact that my parents needed to know what I was doing, and started calling me when I was away.


I resolved it by having a good conversation with my parents, in which I respectfully asked for more freedom, but also showed a willingness to understand their point of view. Which brings me to my first point of advice for you:

We've had discussions about this in the past and they got pretty heated as I got really frustrated that they see things in such a narrow minded way. They said they only do it because they care, which I understand but I want them to change their treatment of me regardless.

It's good that you can understand they only do it because they care. Keep that in mind, and please don't think of them as 'narrow-minded'. If you go into these discussions with that thought in mind, it will get confrontational very soon. Instead, be prepared to show them your understanding, and make your point of view more of a plea than a request. Offer them alternatives to them asking/calling you. Tell them what you can do, instead of asking them to not do stuff.

I told my parents something like this:

I understand you care about where I'm at. I understand you'd like to know where I am if you don't know and I'm not home at my regular times. But, you know that I'm going to my friend on Monday evenings to help her with class. Is it really necessary to ask every time I go out? What if I promise to text you if things get significantly later than usual, so you don't have to worry?

Basically, I showed them I can be pro-active about such things. I showed them I'm an adult now, that I am perfectly capable of keeping myself safe, and having my own responsibilities, even if these include something as 'useless' as letting my parents know where I'm at. If I'm going to help a friend with her homework, I text my parents when things get too fun and I'll be home later. If we go from her house to the bar for a drink, I text my parents that I'll be going somewhere. That way, they didn't have to call/text me to know my current location. And once my parents got used to my 'schedule', the requests got fewer and fewer.

Of course, if you've always lived at home, your parents should know your 'schedule' already. You might try stating things like:

I'm going to the gym, like I always do on Tuesdays, remember? If everything goes right, I'll be home at a certain time. If things change, and I decide to go somewhere else or start running significantly late, I'll text you, like we discussed. Bye!

Make sure you have discussed with your parents what they think of as a time-frame for 'significantly late'. Make sure to promise to let them know if something changes. Make sure to be pro-active, and to keep your promises. If you don't, they'll never see there's no need to call you, or ask you where you're going.


As for the plans that aren't according to a schedule:

What also helped me tremendously was to let my parents know what I was planning on doing e.g. the next day. When we had dinner, we usually discussed our plans for the next day anyway. It's easy talking to state something like 'Oh, my friend messaged today, they're celebrating their birthday next week, I told them I would be there.' That way, you can state the 'I already mentioned this, remember?' when actually leaving.


There's another thing here that strikes me:

I live with my parents and my 2 younger brothers.

I also have 2 younger brothers. By telling my parents where I am at, and by letting them know if and when I'm running late, I'm also setting an example for my brothers. I'm showing them that it's okay for my parents to know where I'm at, that I don't have anything to hide. That I'm not doing stuff sneakily. That I'm taking responsibilities, and not expecting my parents to go running after me and my decisions. That I can be an adult as much as them.

And that's sort of the basic premise you should have if you want to stop your parents from treating you like a child: you have to prove you're not a child anymore.

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I don't think your parents are treating you like a child, but as a resident in their house. My wife likes to know where I am going and if I am home for dinner as well, but she sure ain't my mom ;).

In my experience, it helps to ask your parents about what the rules are and perhaps negotiate on them. Also, tell them it is important to you that you're feeling like an adult and how they can accommodate that.

For example, my parents liked to know when I ate at home, so I let them know if I wasn't. If I unexpectedly wasn't I would let them know and apologise. But that was the exception to the rule. In exchange, she would never ask if I would be home for dinner. This way, I felt in control and they had the information they needed.

6

I am in almost the exact situation: I'm 24, living at home with my parents and my two siblings (however I’m the youngest, so perhaps I get away with a little bit more :P). First I think it’s good to think about why your parents do this. You say it’s because they think you’re still a child and need to be checked up on. But there’s plenty of other possible reasons:

  1. They’re worried about you
  2. They’re curious about you
  3. They’re just being plain nosy!

It probably depends on the relationship you have with your family and the dynamic, but I’ll use mine as an example. My family are I are all pretty indoorsy and introverted, so it’s noticeable when someone is not at the dinner table. We get on well and are interested in each other, so it’s likely someone will ask, “Where’s so-and-so tonight?” (Sometimes this is purely to make conversation!) Specifically for my parents, they might be concerned that I’ve deviated from my normal patterns and worry about what might have happened to me. They’re your parents, so it’s normal that they’d worry a little bit about you. My mother always worries about us, but she’s aware that it’s somewhat irrational. It doesn’t make her feelings any less valid, though, so try to appreciate that.

Basically, there are loads of reasons why your parents might feel like contacting you when you’re not around. Since the reasons above (except the nosiness) are pretty reasonable, or at least understandable, I don’t consider it an invasion of privacy or feel like I’m being treated like a child. Also, I’m on good terms with my parents so I’m happy to do a little extra communicating to pre-empt that innocent curiosity turning into an annoying phonecall or text. What I’ve learned to do is mitigate being prompted as to where I’m going, when I’m coming home, etc. by just telling them in advance.

Coming home

For example, I go out once a week on the same day so my parents know not to expect me until late on those days and don’t feel the need to contact me. I try to tell them about my plans in advance as much as possible, but sometimes plans change or I make plans on the spur of the moment. Occasionally I’ll decide to go to the cinema after work, so I’ll send a text:

Going to the cinema, won’t be home til 9

This way, they aren’t going to call or text me asking where I am. Or if I get invited for drinks and don’t know how long I plan to stay out, I just say,

Going out for drinks, might be home late!

It doesn’t take much time, and sometimes I’ll forget, but it’s a good habit to get into anyway. Especially at night, your parents might simply be worried. Since it’s pretty easy for me to alleviate that natural parental worry, I just get in contact with them before they get in contact with me. Even if it goes unsaid, I know they always appreciate it.

Going out

I think asking when you’re going when you’re on the way out the door isn’t necessarily because they’re treating you like a child. I would ask my sister or my partner the same thing (if I lived with them). It’s simple curiosity and interest in your life. What’s annoying is when they ask you while you’re rushing out the door. But all you have to say is,

I’m off to the gym

Which takes very little time, honestly. If they try to engage you further, and haven’t already read your ‘in a rush’ body language, just say:

Sorry, I’m in a rush!

If this is too annoying, again, just tell them in advance. If it’s the weekend, and I have plans in the afternoon, I’ll usually tell them in the morning when I see them. If I don’t run into them, sometimes I’ll seek them out just to tell them, if I feel like they’ll be wondering where I got to. It’s as simple as saying:

Hey, I’ll be going to the gym at 3 if you’re wondering where I am

Or just make it part of normal conversation if I run into them:

Ugh, have to go to the gym later, my arms are still killing me from last time!

If I’m on my way out of the door and I haven’t told them yet (and if I have time before I go), I’ll seek them out quickly and say,

I’m heading out to the gym now, see you later!

(Optionally, you can add when you’ll expect to be home to avoid getting phonecalls later!)

If it comes to it, confrontation …

All of the above is actually pretty basic protocol when sharing a living space with somebody, and it should make their texts and phonecalls redundant. If it doesn’t, you know there is something more going on: they might be being plain nosy or trying to control you. At that point having a conversation is just unavoidable and that might lead to confrontation. Feelings are on the line here, and of course parents tend to struggle when their children become more independent and don't need them as much anymore. But at the end of the day, they should also want you to be happy, and their current behaviour is damaging the relationship you have with them. So ask them directly WHY they feel the need to contact you. Try to put yourself in their shoes and appreciate what they’re feeling, whether it’s worry or curiosity or even just a desire to be part of your life. Ask them to meet you halfway, and if there’s anything more YOU can do to make things easier for them. In return, will they agree to give you more space? Emphasise that you want to alleviate their worries, not that you’re trying to emancipate yourself from them, or that you don't appreciate their concerns. You’re all adults, so you should be able to reach a compromise. Good luck!

6

It gets really embarrassing when I'm out with friends and I get calls from them, it puts me off pretty bad.

Leverage the power of text messages. If necessary, purchase a smartphone for your parents, if they still have one of these old flip phones which make typing messages awkward.

Make it clear you will not answer the phone, but you will answer texts. If this does not work, simply do not answer the phone and reply with a text.

So, when your mom texts you and you're with your friends, you will simply pull the phone out and type a few words. They will not know it's your mom, you're answering a text, everyone does that. Thus, no more awkwardness.

Your mom will know that you're fine, she'll be happy. It takes less than thirty seconds, no need for flowery prose. "Having dinner with friends, don't wait for me, coming home late" is enough.

If we apply cold hard logic, living with your parents saves you a TON of money in rent. Surely you can spend half a minute writing a text once in a while...

3

Here I will describe the path of least resistance (assuming you do not have resistance). It isn't what it feels like to a young adult. It's something else entirely.

First, we need to stop by The Burrow for something: The Weasley family clock. If you read or saw Harry Potter, you may recall it has hands indicating where every family member is. The hands turn to School, Work, Home, Lost, Mortal Peril, etc. Why does it exist? And why are the parents on it too? It's to create a feeling of safety, and an ability to coordinate. If Ron's still at school, send him an owl to get Potions Demystified from the school library for Ginny, who just discovered her text references it.

Your parents are not snooping. Their questions are to create the seeds for any conversation like any of the following:

  • Oh, while you're at the store, please (you are expected to) pick up some eggs. Here's $5.
  • You might want to take the 405. Traffic is awful on the 710.
  • On the way back from the gym, how easy would it be to (only if able) pick up some eggs? Here's $5.
  • Make sure you're back by 7, remember you invited your study group over.
  • You asked me to remind you to get some objectors for your Andrew. "Resistors for my Arduino, Mom."
  • You're seeing Jim? Could you give him back his jacket? It's washed and ready.
  • Oh! I forgot. The dance class called, and said it's canceled - the instructor is sick. Good thing I caught you.

(yes, I realize that a few of these don't hold up so well in the smartphone era, but there are a million similar ones that do, so you get the idea.)

These are all productive signals that help everyone. And the relevant thing is, they would not happen if they didn't know what you were doing. They're not going to chase after you going "By any chance are you seeing Jim?" "any chance you're going on the 710?"

This sort of thing is so common that it has evolved into common courtesy to ask and tell. It's not courtesy because Emily Post said so... it's courtesy because it works. Life works better when you do it.

And really, it works better for you too, like artfully dodging the 710 mess, or transferring blame to Mom when she forgets the jacket after you say "I'm going to Jim's".

I started to say humans are not perfect information sharers or storers, but as I sit here, I cannot think of a more efficient way for those communications to occur.

Is that what's bothering you?

If you find it grating, you might pause and ask yourself what is the underlying source of the irritation. Don't just go for the cheap surface answers like "it takes up my time" -- go deeper. For instance to stop feeling like a child... shake off the nest and blossom as an adult... not be trapped there by economics... not feel guilty that you're goofing off today instead of doing something "productive". For me, such questions are what made the "where are you going" question grating.

In that case, just be internally honest about that, and recognize your feelings are coming from that other stuff, not the question per se.

If you actually are doing something you feel they'd be judgey about, just tell them you're going to the strip club. Or something equally improbable (for you) so they know you are joking, and hinting to them that you'd like to keep it your own business.

Of course, as Freud says, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Maybe they are being nosey. In which case give them the answer they need, not the answer they want. "To the mall, see you later." They can chase after you if they need to say something important.

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While you live in their house, their rules apply. At age 24, living with your parents must either be your choice, or because you don't have a choice. Either way, you have to respect their house rules.

Now, I know you haven't actually stated any 'rules', such as a time they expect you to be home - but let's consider that as an example. As a house owner myself I am responsible for securing the house at night. It doesn't matter that you have a key, or your own door, or whatever - they perhaps just want to know that the house is secured, everybody is in bed etc. They may not be able to sleep until everything is in order, and even if you think that is ridiculous there probably isn't anything you can do or say to change that. Asking when you are likely to be home - arriving back at their home - seems perfectly reasonable to me.

So unfortunately I feel the answer to this question is that they are not treating you like a child. They are just running their house the way they wish to, as is their right. From 0-18 (or whatever age is considered adult in your country) you have to respect your parents' house rules because you are a minor. After that age you still have to respect their house rules if you are living in their house.

Living with parents will never be like living alone unless you had a completely self-contained living area with its own entrance, you paid fair rent, paid all your own bills including light and heat (or this was reflected in your rent), bought and cooked your own food, and never ever had your mum do your laundry. And even in these circumstances I think they'd still feel like they were doing you a favour.

Interpersonal skills do not only concern verbal exchanges; they are about relationships in general, and how we interpret the actions of others. I am not going to give you some suggested wording that you can use on your parents when I believe the real answer lies in how you view their behaviour.

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    Even though the OP's parents might not be 'treating him like a child', could you provide some pointers as to how the OP can ask their parents to stop the calling/knowing where he goes? Because that's basically what the OP wants to do here, not knowing whether or not their parents are treating them like a child.... – Tinkeringbell Nov 24 '17 at 10:53
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    @Tinkeringbell I can't tell the OP to do something I don't believe is necessary or right. 'Interpersonal' is as much to do with relationships as it is to do with verbal communication. My answer addresses his relationship with his parents. – Astralbee Nov 24 '17 at 14:22
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One way to forestall that problem is to let them in on your general plans and if those change call, email or text them with an update. For safety reasons when going on a hike you should have a trip plan and a contact, that idea can generalize to your everyday activities as well that will inform your parents and siblings and may aid you if things go wrong.

This can be done using a fridge whiteboard where your family all lists their daily planned itineraries or by emailing the same to all as well.

"Monday: work, then gym until 6pm with Steve, maybe drinks at X or movie at Y, home by 11pm"

Get in a habit of being considerate and it doesn't need to diminish your privacy by that much at all. Make it a family practice and concern and worries of all of you will all be minimized.

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