JBB817's picture

Frustrated with Parents

This will probably be long, and might be disorganized but I have gotten so upset and frustrated with my parents that I just need to get this out somewhere, because I honestly have no clue how to deal with them.

I am 21 years old and about to go into my last year of undergrad with the intent to pursue a PhD in a (hopefully funded) grad program. I am second in my department, work as a peer tutor for my college, tutor local high school students in math (including a current student, Joe who I will mention later), and have recently been hired by Kaplan as an SAT tutor. The point of this is to simply show that I am not by any means a bad kid, and that I am motivated. Also, allow me to state here that I love my parents and have a great deal of respect for them.

Since I have been home (going on 4 weeks) my parents have made me cancel on my tutoring sessions with Joe twice, because they did not want me to drive (he lives an hour north). This cost me 100 bucks and was also not only inconvenient for me, but also for Joe and his mother. They also remind me constantly that I "live in South Jersey" and as such, having a job in central Jersey and a girlfriend in north Jersey are both unacceptable.

I know that they don't like me driving long distances because they worry about my safety. But they are preventing me from meeting with my tutoring client and from seeing my girlfriend. I do not travel constantly; once a week to meet with Joe and ideally once a week to see my girlfriend. I have sat with them a number of times calmly and tried to explain to them that I am not trying to disrespect them and that I know where they are coming from, but that they need to see how it is affecting me negatively.

It always escalates into an argument somehow, and nothing is ever resolved. I need to find a way to work around this, because I absolutely can not have them telling me to cancel tutoring sessions with Kaplan. I also find it moderately disconcerting that I am only seeing my girlfriend about once every two weeks, when there is no reason not to -- I do not ask them for money, I pay for my own gas or train ticket, and always compromise with when I will be home.

On top of this, even when driving is not an issue, they will say "it's too late to go out" or simply tell me "no, you aren't allowed out." I spend plenty of time with my parents and family, and it feels like whenever I am home for the summer, my friendships tend to get put on pause.

I don't make enough money to move out, which they hold over my head any time we get into a fight. I have considered taking out loans more than once just to get a house off campus from my college and to move in there for the summer. This just seems too brash a decision. My relationship with my parents has become more and more strained this summer, and I don't know how to fix it. I know they aren't trying to punish me, but it always feels like I'm being forced to stay in my own house. Talking it out with them is becoming less of an option as they always threaten me to take away the car or to ground me (which is pretty much achieved by taking away my car).

As a last side note, they also don't seem to understand anything about my studies and have been less than supportive of the fact that I want to pursue a PhD. My dad has always wanted me to be an engineer or an actuary, and math professor never was good enough for him. He refuses to believe that I will get into any program and constantly asks me "what will you do when you don't get into grad school." I am aware that I can't assume that I will get in or finish, but I have considered this and have back up plans. I wish that my dad didn't constantly throw my own insecurity in my face, and could at least pretend to support me.

So maybe I am overreacting, in fact I probably am, because I am absolutely fuming right now. I just needed to get this out in writing because I am more frustrated than I have ever been.

acitez's picture

My knee-jerk response is to tell you to figure out a way to live independent of your parents (moonlight, and live with a room-mate), but I do realize that in this economy that may be impossible. Still, spend some effort on the attempt.

Make arrangements well in advance so that you can fulfill your obligation to Kaplan (and to Joe). I can't imagine a good dad getting in the way of their kid doing their job.
Maybe this is a time for humor. "So Dad, did you get killed on the way to work? Cause you're still here, you know? Even though we live in Jersey, you know? And you started driving your car uphill both ways through the snow when you were 5, you know?"

Look into the Navy. If you go the military route this would help you be less dependent on your folks, and also project a little reality on their worry. Driving in Jersey's dangerous, try being a Navy Seal.

2xstepmom's picture

You are the dream child of many parents and possibly the fact that you are such a responsible and respectful young adult has resulted in your parents taking you for granted to a certain extent.

Just the fact that you took the time and effort and have the ability to write the above piece while fuming and frustrated tells a great deal about your character. You can be very proud of yourself!

You have set realistic goals and have a back up plan. How terrific is that? Very! My husband hopes his boys have your drive and ambition someday. He was in the Navy and says many of the young men who joined when he was in came from situations similar to yours.

Possibly your parents are having a difficult time adjusting to the fact that you are now a man. This can be difficult for some parents and you will understand their feeling better when/if you have children of your own. Many parents feel they have to be the voice of doom to soften the blow if you are unable to attain your dreams. This is illogical but a fact.

When my now 31 y/o son was your age, he moved into an apartment with 3 friends and worked at a pizza shop to pay his bills. He got loans to pay for college and made his own way from that point on. (The difference was that I had to dynamite him out of the house because he was too dependent on me.) He learned to be independent and has stated many times that he feels very proud of himself that he made it on his own from that age. If you make that choice you too will have that feeling and be out of the fruatration loop. Being on yor own, or the military may be your best choice at this point in your life.

Best of luck to you whatever you choose and know that you are greatly admired for your commitmant and dedication. Enjoy your life wherever it leads you.

JBB817's picture

Thank you both for your comments, it's nice to see that I'm not just acting (entirely) crazy. I've calmed down since last night and had a decent Father's day. Part of me wants to grin and bear it and just last out the last 2 months here for the summer. Semester starts up at the end of August and I'll be back on campus. After that I plan on working my ass off to make sure I don't have to move back home after graduation. Ideally, if I'm being funded for a grad program, I can live off the stipend + some loans and move into an apartment with some other people. If I don't get into a funded program, I've planned to get my teaching certification and applying to teach high school and take grad courses at night. Thanks again for taking the time to respond; reading what you had to say has made me feel a lot calmer and less upset about the situation.

MEANMOM's picture

That is crazy!!!If you are trully that responsible....sounds alittle silly but if you can't figure a way to move out what about family counseling??? maybe an outside person can evaluate the situation and help talk some since into your parents and help you understand why they are acting this way...wish you luck.