YOUNG PEOPLE ASK
How Can I Talk to My Parents About Their Rules?
“My parents’ rules made perfect sense when I was 15, but now I’m 19 and feel that I should have more freedom.”—Sylvia.
Are your feelings similar to Sylvia’s? If so, this article will help you discuss the situation with your parents.
What you should know
Before you talk to your parents about their rules, consider the following:
Life without rules would be chaos. Think of a busy highway. What if there were no signs, no stoplights, no speed limits? Rules of the home—like rules of the road—help maintain order.
Rules prove that your parents care about you. If they didn’t lay down any rules, that could mean they don’t care what happens to you. Really, what kind of parents would they be?
DID YOU KNOW? Parents have rules too! If you doubt that, read Genesis 2:24; Deuteronomy 6:6, 7; Ephesians 6:4; and 1 Timothy 5:8.
What, though, if you still feel that your parents’ rules are unfair?
What you can do
Before discussing it, think. When it comes to obeying your parents’ rules, what is your track record like? If it isn’t that great, then this would not be the time to ask them for concessions. Instead, see the article, “How Can I Gain My Parents’ Trust?”
If your track record is good, prepare what you would like to say to your parents. Outlining your thoughts in advance will help you examine the reasonableness of your request. Next, ask your parents to set a time and a place where you can all be relaxed and comfortable. Then, when you meet with your parents, remember the following:
Be respectful. The Bible says: “A harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1) So be forewarned: If you argue with your parents or accuse them of being unfair, the discussion will deteriorate fast.
“The more respect I have for my parents, the more respect they show for me. It’s a lot easier for us to reach an agreement when there is mutual respect.”—Bianca, 19.
Listen. The Bible tells us to “be quick to listen, slow to speak.” (James 1:19) Remember, you are having a discussion with your parents, not delivering a speech to them.
“As we grow, we may feel as if we know more than our parents, but nothing could be further from the truth. We do well to listen to their counsel and advice.”—Devan, 20.
Empathize. Try to see the matter from your parents’ point of view. Follow the Bible’s admonition to “look out not only for your own interests, but also for the interests of others”—in this case, the interests of your parents.—Philippians 2:4.
“I used to view my parents as opponents rather than teammates. But now I realize that they were just learning how to be caretakers as much as I was learning how to be my own person. Everything they did was out of loving concern.”—Joshua, 21.
Offer solutions. Suppose, for example, that your parents have laid down the law: they don’t want you driving an hour to a gathering that you want to attend. Find out their main concern—is it the drive, or is it the gathering?
If it’s the drive, would they reconsider if you could team up with another person who is a capable driver?
If it’s the gathering, what reassurance can you provide them about who will attend and what kind of supervision there will be?
Remember to be respectful in your speech and patiently listen to what your parents have to say. Show that you “honor your father and your mother” in both your words and your demeanor. (Ephesians 6:2, 3) Will they make concessions? Maybe. Maybe not. Either way . . .
Courteously accept your parents’ decision. This is a step that is crucial but is often overlooked. If you don’t get what you want and you start arguing with your parents, you will only make it harder for yourself the next time you have a discussion. On the other hand, if you comply willingly, they’ll be more likely to ease up on some of the rules that are now in place.