I am a 17-year-old senior in high school. My boyfriend, "Kenny," is 18 and goes to college five hours away. I'd like to visit him over the weekend sometime, but I need my parents' permission. Mom is OK with it, as long as I take the train (she doesn't want me driving that distance alone) and I pay for it. Dad is old-fashioned. He dislikes the fact that Kenny and I would be unsupervised in his dorm for a whole weekend, even though Kenny has a roommate.Abby responds,
We've been together for a long time and have been unsupervised before, but Dad's still uneasy. He treats me like I'm younger than my age. I'm almost 18 and have traveled alone by plane. I'm respectful to my parents and feel I deserve Dad's trust.
Kenny and I love each other, but having a long-distance relationship is difficult since we hardly get to see each other. Dad likes and approves of Kenny, but thinks it's "unnecessary" for me to visit him since we call, Skype and text each other often. How can I get my father to see my point of view?
You probably can't - but your mother may be able to, which is why you should enlist her help in talking to your father for you. However, if that doesn't work, the alternative would be for Kenny to travel to visit you when he's able to get away for a weekend.Abby is on a roll of giving rather permissive advice lately; she's not really helpful here, but she at least seems to imply that if it were up to her, she would let the girl go. Of course, Ashley and I are more strongly in the teen's corner, but so what else is new?
Lulu: Do you think there are logical arguments she could use to make her case, or is her dad just not going to change his mind because his thing is very emotional and it's about not letting his little girl go off and have sex?
Ashley: Well, I mean, has she had sex?
Lulu: She doesn't say. She sort of neatly avoids the issue, but I feel like it must be on her mind. The "We've been unsupervised before and nothing happened!" argument was always one my friends and I would pull out when we wanted to do sleepovers or trips with our boyfriends and girlfriends, with equal vehemence whether we planned to have sex or not.
Ashley: She's already tried the "the trust my word" approach and it didn't get her very far.
Lulu: Actually, it seems to be more like the "see, we totally won't have sex - the ROOMMATE WILL BE THERE!" approach. Which I feel is less effective than a straight-up, honest, "trust my word" approach. "Listen, I know you're worried that I'll have sex over the weekend, but I'm promising you that I won't; that's not what this is about; I just want to spend time with somebody whom I love and who lives far away."
Ashley: If she already has had sex, she might as well come clean and say she's not a virgin, so his worst fear has already come true. In fact, I might say that even if I were a virgin.
Lulu: I don't know that it's necessarily all about purity. If your parents think you are too young to have sex, but you have already had sex, they still want you to not have MORE sex.
Ashley: Really? Because I think the first time might matter way more.
Lulu: They don't want you to have babies. Sure, you got lucky SO FAR with zero babies...
Ashley: Then the argument is that you know what a condom is.
Lulu: Condoms break Ashley.
Ashley: You know what an abortion clinic is?
Lulu: Well, THAT'S not helpful. You getting an abortion is a worst-case scenario. Depending on the parents, they might even prefer you to have a baby at 17. But either way, we're playing out exactly the conversation she shouldn't have. I think she's cannily avoiding mentioning sex for a reason; she doesn't even want her parents to know it's on her mind.
Ashley: I'm just suggesting alternate routes. If her don't-mention-it / trust-me approach doesn't work, she has several options:
1) wait till she's 18
2) argue that she'll have safe sex
3) just get on the train and go
Lulu: There is something to be said for asking for forgiveness not permission, but it could be a huge shitstorm. She should exhaust all alternate routes first. Do you think the "I need to see what college life is like" approach will get her anywhere? Obviously, she can't claim it's her #1 reason for wanting to go.
Ashley: Yeah, not really. Maybe "I'll be in college in 6 months anyway"? If he doesn't think she can control herself over a weekend, how the hell will she do for the rest of her life?
Lulu: Yeah, I do think it's logical to be like, listen, I'm about to be on my own, baby steps are better than just suddenly being dumped from the nest. Also, I'll sleep on the couch! (I won't sleep on the couch.)