I'm 21 years old and currently going into my last year of college. Before I was with my current boyfriend, I was in another long-term relationship, which ended when I went to college. My parents made my life miserable by pressuring me to break up with him, telling me that we weren't right together. It wasn't a bad relationship, and even though it didn't work out, I don't regret it.
Now it seems to be happening all over again. This Summer I decided to stay near school since I have a steady, full-time job. I'm renting a house with three close friends and my boyfriend of a year and a half. My family was disappointed that I didn't come home for the Summer but told me that if I could budget it, then they would support me. I love it here, and I'm very happy with the choice I made. My parents came up to visit this past weekend and when I asked if my boyfriend could come to dinner with us, my mom said no; she needed to talk to me about some red flags she sees.
They've only met him twice, and I don't think it's fair for them to judge him already. It seems that whenever I get into a serious relationship, instead of supporting me, they have to tell me that I'll ruin my dreams if I settle down too early. I'm happy to listen to their advice, but after that I feel like they need to support me. I know who I am and what I want, and I don't plan on sacrificing any of it for a guy, but that doesn't mean I'm going to break up with my boyfriend. How can I make them understand and support me?
— Unsupported Sienna
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Dear Unsupported Sienna,
You sound like a smart woman with a good head on her shoulders, but trying to break away from your parents — especially when you're super-close as a family— can be really difficult when they're set on holding on to you. As long as you're staying focused on your future and what's truly best for your life, then I think you're on the right path, though it may not be the same path your parents would like for you. Unfortunately, I doubt there's much you can say to make your parents learn to let go any faster — only time will do that. But for now, continue what you have been doing: seriously listening to your parents opinions, paving your own way, and making the healthiest choices for you.
Remind them that while you will always defer to their judgment when making decisions, you can't always make the choice that's best for them. If you act maturely, then eventually they'll have to treat you accordingly. Watching a child enter into the big world is scary for parents, but I'm sure in the end they just want you to be happy. Be patient while they negotiate your new independence, but don't let them scare you out of standing your ground.