What to do when your parents won’t give you, or let you earn, what you want

Casca00 asks: I’m 17. I have not been the perfect daughter but I believe I have been respectful to my parents and fulfilled my responsibilities. But here’s the issue. My father is a Doctor and my parents’ financial condition is fine. But I am pretty much broke. My brother and I don’t even own cellphones. We don’t have any working computers because they broke and nobody seems to care. I had to borrow my friend’s laptop and ask our lovely neighbor for the password to their wireless. My dad uses the computer at his workplace and both of my parents have Samsung Galaxy something something mobiles. They don’t give me regular pocket money, so therefore I can’t even save up, though there is so much I want to do, like taking cello lessons or learning foreign languages. Last summer I stayed home for the vacation instead of going with my mother, and begged my father to let me find a job. I even found many workplaces that are looking for employees in our neighborhood. He refused without giving a reason. Most of my friends are working on holidays and such, so I don’t see why I couldn’t. I tried reasoning with them and asked for them to at least give me a regular allowance or give me some chores to do. But it’s impossible to make them listen to me. They don’t refuse me on this; they just say ‘OK’ then leave it as it is. I am starting to get tired of this. To be fair, we live in a nice house, they recently restored my room, and they never ask for anything I can’t do. I am grateful for things they’ve done but… I want my financial freedom. What should I do?

Hi Casca00 –

This is a really perplexing situation.  I often get letters from kids who resent that their parents can’t afford things for them, or from parents who refuse to give their kids stuff and want them to get jobs instead.  But you’re saying your parents are refusing both.

And this leads me to only one conclusion – that it’s not about money, it’s that your parents don’t want you to have certain things.

Is it possible that they simply don’t believe someone your age should have a cell phone, or a computer?  I can see why a parent might feel that way, as we hear so many awful stories about what kids find online or write about each other.

Although, even if that were the case, it wouldn’t explain them not wanting you to take cello lessons or learn foreign languages.

So I’m stuck.  With one possible exception.  You could have a parent who thinks like Handsome’s mother’s father!

Handsome’s grandfather was, like your parents, a caring and generous soul.  And he was also very controlling.  And when he would hear children playing in the next room, he would sometimes bellow, “Whatever you’re doing, don’t!”  He did it to be funny – but he also meant it just a little bit.  See, to someone like him, when kids do things, they stop being predictable.  If they play, someone might bang someone on the head; if they explore things, they might find something valuable and accidentally break it (It might strike you that we dogs are like kids – but never grow out of it!).  But instead of saying “Be Careful!” or “What are you doing in there?” he would just assume the worst and order them to stop.

So is it possible that your parents have some fear of you in this way?  That if you took cello lessons, you’d mess up, or if you took language classes you wouldn’t study?  Something like that?

If this is the case, then it strikes me that you have two options.  The first is to convince your parents that, as a responsible 17-year-old, you have earned the right to be trusted.  You could point out how you’ve done with your chores, your grades, whatever you have that really ‘sells’ you in this.  And if you make a good-enough case (and truly, just trying to make a case will probably make you look more mature in their eyes), you’re likely to get at least some of what you’re after.

But my second option, in case that first one doesn’t work, is to simply wait, and get ready to move away from home.  I’m going to guess that, as your father’s a doctor, your parents expect you to go on to some higher education.  If so, see if you can pick a college or university where you’ll live outside of your parents’ home.  And even if you don’t leave home, when you’re 18, see if that age grants you any more rights.

Honestly, Casca00, what I care the most about isn’t how the next months go for you; I mostly want to ensure that you don’t become an adult who believes others will always be making decisions for you!  That’s the danger I see in parents acting like this.  So however and whenever you’re able to, I want you to begin to make your own choices.  If you have money to spend, then great, spend it well.  And if you don’t have money, find other ways to make choices for yourself.

Because you’re almost an adult.  And one thing about being an adult human is that so many people are stuck in old patterns, and can’t move on to being fully themselves.  And I want you to be yourself, in all your glory.

So I hope you’re able to improve this situation now, at least a little.  But my goal is that, when you are independent enough to make all sorts of decisions for yourself, that your motto becomes the opposite of what that man used to say.  I would like it to read:

Whatever you’re doing, DO!!!

And that should create a life that’s full and fun and magical.  Everything I wish for you.



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