Dear Harlan: I have a curfew that hasn’t changed in two years. I’m 18 years old and going to college next year. I’ve explained to my parents that my friends all stay out until at least 1 a.m. or they don’t have a curfew at all. I’m the first one home. I’m going to be on my own next year without any curfew, but they still make me come home early. They say nothing good happens after midnight. I live in a safe neighborhood. If I’m late, they punish me and take away my license. I hate being a prisoner. It makes me want to leave home for college next year and never come back. What can I do other than wait it out? I hate being stuck here. — Stuck
Dear Stuck: Don’t fight them – it’s what they expect. They’ll just tighten their grip. Give them permission to be overprotective parents. I don’t agree with their choices, but I understand them. Change the relationship from confrontational to conversational. Ask your parents what makes them uncomfortable. Listen and learn. If they worry about drunk driving, stay close to home or have people come to your house. If they are concerned about you hanging out in random places at night, sleep at a friend’s house or go to one place. Yes, they should give you more room to be with your friends, but fighting their fears is just going make this problem much worse. WARNING: As you get closer to graduation, parents can get more controlling. It’s their way of pretending they still have some control over your life. The best way to handle overprotective parents is to be patient and hang out with friends during daylight hours. The more responsible you appear to be now, the easier it will be to break free in college. Soon, this part of your life will be in the rearview mirror. Understand your parents’ fears, and help alleviate them.