Strict parents are the stuff of legends. Maybe they enforce early curfews, demand exacting table manners, and don't permit you to use your phone until all your homework has been done and checked over by them.
You might not agree with such rules, but you probably know why your parents are putting them in place. In situations like this you can follow these tips to help get more freedom:
- Be flexible. If your parents set a curfew that you think is too early, (say they want you home at 8) don't demand to come home at 2am every night. Ask if they will let you stay out later for a specific event. For example, if there is school play or movie you want to see, ask if you can come home when it is over. Then do it! Prove that they can trust you and they will be more likely to bend on rules.
- Ask questions, don't automatically argue. If you parents make rules that really aren't fair, ask them why they feel this is important. Listen to their reason and if you can't calmly respond to their points in the moment, tell them you'd like to think about what they said and talk more later. A lot of teens instinctively tune out when a parent begins to talk, but taking the time to listen can actually help you develop better arguments and stay calm during a tough discussion.
- Pick your battles. If you live with strict parents you could choose to fight over just about everything. Don't. Save your energy for what really matters. What is more important, a fight over doing your chores, or babysitting your little brother, or a fight over being allowed to go to meetings of your school's GSA, even if you haven't done all your homework.
Sometimes, rules cross the line from annoying but understandable, to something driven by homophobia. An example could be if your younger brother is allowed to go out with his girlfriend until ten, but you are not allowed to go out at night with your same sex partner. Another would be if your parents prohibit you from seeing a gay friend simply because of his sexual orientation.
Obviously, a strict home life isn't always a sign that parents are homophobic. But it is true that the two can go hand-in-hand. As one gay teen writes to the community forum:
"I have very very strict parents. I'm 16 and almost everyone in my family hates gay people, like with a passion. So I'm afraid that if I tell them they will throw me out, or disown me, or something worse."
But even if strict parents aren't homophobic, life at home can be rough, and strictness is the source of much tension between parents and teens the world over. As we all know, rules that a parent might feel are a reasonable way to help a teen stay on course, can be seen by that teen as being far too harsh, unfair or completely out of touch with reality.
Ultimately, parents, like teens, are people all with their own personalities, ideas and world views. Sometimes even the strictest parents will surprise their kids by showing flexibility. And sometimes even the most lax parents will enforce rules that teens think aren't needed. Hopefully, whatever your parents' style, they will accept your sexual orientation or gender identity, and won't use their power as an excuse to impose homophobic limitations on who you are.