*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission
Having a close relationship with your parents when you're a teen can get very difficult if you're also dating someone.
Even if your parents have nothing against you seeing someone, if they decide to warn you not to stay overnight with them, you must respect their rules for as long as you rely on them to support you.
Could you still avoid arguments when they keep pointing out you have to do what they say, or would you end up resenting their guidance even if it's meant to help you focus on other things like studies and a career?
My friend Tammy, who lives in Phoenix, Arizona, is in high school in her third year. She still lives with her parents, John and Diane, but she already has a part-time job and plans to rent an apartment with her friends as soon as she graduates.
"I like spending afternoons with mom and dad, and we have some great memories together, but things haven't been the same lately. I used to love being together when I was little, and we played or traveled, but the past few years, they just keep telling me what to do, and I'm getting so tired of hearing the same thing," Tammy said.
Her issues with her parents started almost at the same time as she began dating Tim. He's six years older, and her parents were very cautious about them seeing each other in the beginning.
"They didn't exactly tell us we couldn't be in a relationship, but for the first dates, they always told me not to be out more than 2 hours, and they kept calling me until I got home even if I was just 10 minutes late. They relaxed a bit after four months or so, but I still don't feel like they trust him completely," Tammy said.
Tim is in college, and he comes to see Tammy four times a week. They spend their evenings together in Phoenix, either shopping, having dinner, or getting groceries for their parents.
"I don't care that much what we're doing. I just miss him a lot, and anytime I get to be with him is great," Tammy said.
It's been six months since they've been dating, and Tim wanted to take their relationship further. He asked Tammy if she would come on a weekend trip with him, and she got excited and agreed to pack up a few things.
Unfortunately, when Tammy told her parents about the trip, things changed completely. They told her she couldn't go with her boyfriend and that she wasn't allowed to be with him at night until they got engaged and married.
"That's overreacting. It's not like we're getting married anytime soon; we both have to study and find good jobs. It's too early to even think of such a thing. But I want to go on trips. We're a couple. Why shouldn't we be together more and keep our relationship as a priority?" Tammy said.
She tried to explain to her parents that she was very excited about the trip and that her relationship with Tim would be a long-term one, but they still kept their rule. John, her dad, is determined to avoid any risks for his daughter and won't agree to an exception.
"I don't want her to change her future by making a mistake. She can date him even if he's older, but I won't have her go anywhere alone and at night with Tim. That's my rule, and I'm not changing it. It's for her own good, too, even if she can't see it now," John said.
Tammy argued with her dad but is feeling doubtful about going on the trip anyway. Her dad is helping her with car payments, and she doesn't have to pay rent or contribute to any bills, but all that could change if she won't follow John's advice.
"I don't want to argue; it would be nice if he understood how much I care about Tim. This isn't about rules or principles related to marriage. I know mom and dad didn't live together before their marriage in Phoenix, but my life is different. Why do I have to wait for so long just because they did? What if Tim finds someone else who's more open and leaves me because of this? Would he really wait until we're married, more than five years from now at least?" Tammy said.
The teen is worried about losing her boyfriend, particularly since he told her he wanted to be closer and spend more time together. Tim found out about John's rule and isn't happy about it. He doesn't want to rush things but isn't sure he can agree to avoid any trips for several years.
"We're not going to have a family or anything. I'm responsible; I know it's too soon for that. But I want to be with Tammy more, not just a few hours with her mom and dad calling to remind her to get back home at precisely 7 p.m. It gets boring sometimes. I care about her, and they're treating me like I'm trying to take her future away from her," Tim said.
John let Tammy know he wasn't willing to talk about it anymore and that if she chose to disregard his rule, she would have to move out in two months and find a way to pay for rent, bills, and her car. Tim also warned her he couldn't help her pay for anything if she left her parents' home in Phoenix because he's not working just yet and relies completely on his mom and dad to pay for his stuff.
What do you think about this situation? Is John right to avoid his daughter's relationship becoming more than just dates, or should he be more flexible to see her happy? Should Tammy move out as soon as possible, so she can spend as much time as she wants with her boyfriend and travel together?