Why Won’t My Parents Let Me Have Fun?
For Allison, a teenager in Australia, Monday morning at school is as stressful as it is predictable.
“Everyone talks about what they did on the weekend,” she says. “They tell stories that sound so exciting, like about how many parties they went to and how many boys they kissed—even about running away from the police . . . It sounds so scary, but fun! They come home at five o’clock in the morning, and their parents don’t care. I have to be in bed before they even start their night!
“Anyway, after telling me their weekend action stories, my classmates ask me what I did. . . . I went to Christian meetings. I engaged in the ministry. I feel like I really missed out on a good time. So I usually just tell them that I did nothing. Then they ask why I didn’t come with them.
“Once Mondays are over, you’d think it would be easier. But it’s not. By Tuesday, everyone is talking about the upcoming weekend! I usually sit and just listen to them talk. I feel so left out!”
IS YOUR Monday morning at school similar? You might feel that there’s a world of fun outside your door but that your parents have locked it tight—or as if you’re at an amusement park but you’re not allowed to get on any of the rides. It’s not that you want to do everything your peers do. You’d just like to have fun once in a while! For example, which recreational activity would you most like to engage in this coming weekend?
□ music concert
□ other ․․․․․
You need recreation. In fact, your Creator wants you to enjoy your youth. (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4) And although you may doubt it at times, your parents also want you to have fun. Likely, however, your parents will have two legitimate concerns: (1) what you will do and (2) who will accompany you.
What, though, if you’re invited to go out with friends but you aren’t sure how your parents will react? Consider three options and their consequences.
OPTION A 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! Disobeying your parents and going out anyhow is a foolish option.—Proverbs 12:15.
OPTION B 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 principles 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.
OPTION C 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 also have a chance to present your case.
The consequences: Your parents feel that you love and respect them. And if they view your request as reasonable, they might say yes.
Why Parents Might Say No
What, though, if your parents say no? That can be frustrating. However, understanding their point of view may help you cope with the restrictions. For example, they might say no for one or more of the following reasons.
Greater knowledge and experience. 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.
Love for you. 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
Four factors come into play.
Honesty: First, you need to ask yourself honestly: ‘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 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, and your parents will appreciate your consideration.
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 the event end?”
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. Avoid such statements as “You don’t trust me,” “Everybody else is going,” or “My friends’ parents are letting them go!” 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.
READ MORE ABOUT THIS TOPIC IN VOLUME 2, CHAPTER 32
“Be wise, my son, and make my heart rejoice.”—Proverbs 27:11.
When going to a gathering, have an exit plan. Before you attend, know what you will do or say so that, if you need to, you can leave with your conscience intact.
DID YOU KNOW . . . ?
Loving parents will err on the side of caution. If they don’t understand what you are asking for or if they feel that vital facts are missing from your request, chances are they will say no.
If my conscience is bothered by what I see or hear when I’m at a movie or a gathering, I will ․․․․․
What I would like to ask my parent(s) about this subject is ․․․․․
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
● Why might you be reluctant to give your parents all the information they need in order to make a decision?
● What might be the consequences of your getting a yes from your parents by withholding vital facts?
[Blurb on page 268]
“I was so dumb when I was younger. Some of the ‘fun’ things I did were not so much fun in the long run. Your actions will catch up with you. I regret not listening to my parents.”—Brian
[Picture on page 269]
Like lifeguards on a beach, your parents have a better vantage point from which to see danger