Dear Harlan: My parents were visiting me for parents’ weekend. They found a condom wrapper in my room and were extremely upset. I didn’t lie to them; I’m a 21-year-old woman, and this is the decision I wanted to make. I come from a strict family, and my parents want to kill my boyfriend. I’m freaking out. — Freaking Out
Dear Freaking Out: I’d love a seat at your family’s Thanksgiving table. Why do they want to kill your boyfriend? He used a condom. He’s a responsible adult – and so are you. You didn’t lie. You told your parents the truth, and that’s difficult – especially when they are holding an empty condom wrapper. Part of being an adult means upsetting your parents at times – it’s your job. You didn’t do anything wrong; you’re just not good at cleaning up your room. Learn to clean more thoroughly. But back to your parents: Give this time to sit for a while. I know you’re not good at patience (no 21-year-old is good at it), but time is what this needs. Let your parents feel whatever they are going to feel. Once you give this some time, put together your story. Talk to a spiritual leader, find a therapist or talk to a family member you respect. When you see your parents for Thanksgiving, make sure you can clearly communicate how you feel. Give them permission to be uncomfortable. Expect them to struggle with your decision. Share with them why you are comfortable with your decisions, and that you respect their point of view. If this man respects you, encourages you to be your best and respects your values, there is nothing wrong. Be patient with your parents; their little girl is growing up, and that’s scary for them. It’s scary for most parents.