Why Won’t My Parents Let Me Have Any Fun?
Imagine the following scenario:
You want to go to a party, but you’re not sure if your parents will let you. Which option would you choose?
1. DON’T ASK—JUST GO
Why you might consider this option: You want to impress your friends with how independent you are. You feel that you know better than your parents, or you have little respect for their judgment.—Proverbs 14:18.
The consequences: Your friends may be impressed, but they’ll also learn something about you—that you’re deceitful. If you’d deceive your parents, you might be willing to deceive your friends. If your parents find out, they’ll feel hurt and betrayed and you’ll likely be grounded!—Proverbs 12:15.
2. DON’T ASK—DON’T GO
Why you might consider this option: You think about the offer and decide that the activity doesn’t measure up to your standards or that some of those invited wouldn’t be good company. (1 Corinthians 15:33; Philippians 4:8) On the other hand, you might want to go but don’t have the courage to ask your parents.
The consequences: If you don’t go because you know it’s a bad idea, you’ll be more confident when answering your friends. But if you don’t go simply because you lack the courage to ask your parents, you might end up sitting home brooding, feeling that you’re the only one who’s not having fun.
3. ASK—AND SEE
Why you might consider this option: You recognize your parents’ authority over you and respect their judgment. (Colossians 3:20) You love your parents and don’t want to hurt them by sneaking out behind their backs. (Proverbs 10:1) You may also have a chance to present your case.
The consequences: Your parents will feel that you love and respect them. And if they view your request as reasonable, they might say yes.
Why Parents Might Say No
One reason can be illustrated this way: If you had a choice, likely you would prefer to swim at a beach that is manned by lifeguards. Why? Because while you’re in the water having fun, your awareness of danger is very limited. But the lifeguards have a better vantage point from which to spot hazards. Similarly, because of their greater knowledge and experience, your parents may be aware of dangers that you do not see. Like the lifeguards on the beach, your parents’ goal is, not to spoil your fun, but to help you avoid dangers that could rob you of enjoyment in life.
Here’s another reason: Your parents have a strong desire to protect you. Love moves them to say yes when they can but no when they have to. When you ask their permission to do something, they ask themselves if they can grant the request and then live with the consequences. They will say yes to themselves—and to you—only if they are reasonably convinced that no harm will come to you.
How to Improve Your Chances of Getting a Yes
What you can do
Honesty: Ask yourself: ‘Why do I really want to go? Is it primarily the activity that I enjoy, or is it that I want to fit in with my peers? Is it because someone that I’m attracted to will be there?’ Then be honest with your parents. They were young once, and they know you well. So they will likely discern your real motives anyhow. They’ll appreciate your candor, and you’ll benefit from their wisdom. (Proverbs 7:1, 2) On the other hand, if you’re not honest, you’ll undermine your credibility and lessen the chances that you’ll hear a yes.
Timing: Don’t pummel your parents with requests when they have just arrived home from work or when they are concentrating on other matters. Approach them when they are more relaxed. But don’t wait until the last minute and then try to pressure them for an answer. Your parents will not appreciate having to make a rushed decision. Ask early, giving them time to think.
Content: Don’t be vague. Explain exactly what you want to do. Parents feel uncomfortable with the answer “I don’t know,” especially when they’ve asked you: “Who will be there?” “Will a responsible adult be present?” or “When will you be home?”
Attitude: Don’t view your parents as enemies. View them as part of your team—because, all things considered, they are. If you view your parents as allies, you’re less likely to sound combative and they are more likely to be cooperative.
Show your parents that you’re mature enough to accept their decision and respect it. If you do, they will respect you. And next time, they may be more inclined to look for ways to say yes.