How to deal with a parent who gives her younger child less freedom than the older one

Greta asks: My elder sister has been dating her boyfriend for two years now. They are very happy together and I am happy for them as well. But my mom has a problem when I even talk about guys – she doesn’t want me to date at all. Why is this so?

Hi Greta –


From what I see of humans, there are two sorts of parents.  One sort is very protective of their first kid; then over time they realize they don’t need to worry so much, and they give their next child a lot more freedom.  The other sort see their first child as adult and responsible, and forever see their later kid or kids as children they need to protect and control.  It sounds like you have the second sort.


Now of course, I don’t know how old you are.  For all I know, your sister might be twenty years old and you might be eight!  But I’m going to assume that you two are pretty close to the same age.  And that your sister was allowed to date at a younger age than you are now.


Well, if that’s the case, then your mom is probably unaware of the unfairness she’s putting on you.  So my advice is to sit her down at a convenient time and have a very straightforward conversation about this.


Now just to be clear – did I say you should scream at her when she walks in the door “You’re So Unfair You’re Ruining My Life!”  Or that you should give her a silent treatment all through dinner and then when she’s completely fed up with you for being so sullen, just hiss at her “You see?  You hate me!”


Absolutely not!  No, I’m suggesting that you tell her that there’s something you want to talk with her about, and maybe even make a date for it “How about tonight, after I’ve finished my homework, could we have a chat about something?  I’ll make hot cocoa, okay?”  And then sit down with her and calmly talk about the situation.  Use facts – point out when your sister first got to date, and how you appreciate that she’s concerned about you, but that you really need to be allowed to have the same chances she did.  Especially as she’s so happy in her relationship, so you’ll have the added help of her advice when you have problems.


Now you see, this does two things.  First, it clarifies the issues in a way your mom will be able to understand and appreciate (as opposed to if she gets yelled at, which will make her defensive).  But second, you’re showing how adult you are!  By having this talk, you’re showing her that you’re mature enough to handle dating!   So you’re actually reducing her anxiety, while winning the argument!


Now in about 99% of cases, this will work.  But it’s possible that your mom is one of those 1% who will still insist that you’re too young.  Maybe she’s afraid of losing her last kid if you grow up!  If that’s the case, I’d suggest getting your sister to help you out.  She’ll probably be very happy to talk with your mom, and get her to let you become more of a teenager and less of a kid.


Either way, be kind to your mom.  Remember, she was almost certainly very in love with the little girl you were, and it’s going to be tough for her to let go of that child!


Best of Luck with it!




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