Over Parenting 101
I am writing to ask for advice for my cousin. Really!
My aunt and uncle are very protective of my 18 year old cousin, to the point that they have met every boy she has gone out with before she was allowed to go, they veto any activity they don’t think she should do, and basically call all the shots in her life.
Well, now she has a chance to go to university on an awesome scholarship. She is a very talented artist and got some kind of big deal financial award to a really good art school. It’s almost a free ride through school.
However, it is a 2 day drive away, (or a 3 hour flight) and auntie and uncle are both dead set against it. They want her to get a job and got to school here in the city so she can live at home.
I think she should take the scholarship and go. This kind of chance doesn’t come very often to most people. She wants to, but she has never really gone against her parents in anything before.
How can I help her to stand up for herself? I believe that her parents will come around once it is a done deal, but she thinks they will come drag her home or something.
The Daughter of the Sister of my Mother
Dear Daughter, Sister, Mother,
A friend of mine once said that the job of a parent is to make themselves irrelevant. Meaning that you raise your kids to be independent, productive members of society, so much so that they no longer “need” parenting as they go through life…
That’s always stuck with me because I see so much truth in that notion. Perhaps it’s something you and your cousin can use when negotiating with her parents.
It can be really difficult to stand up to over-protective parents, so if you are willing to help advocate on your cousin’s behalf, that would be a great start. Learning to stand up for herself is an important part of her journey and having someone cheer her on will be more than helpful.
I would first talk to your cousin to let her know that someone is on her side, and then I would help her build her case. Making a list of all the positives that come with this opportunity is the easiest place to start, but additionally, identifying all the challenges is going to the key to her success.
By only highlighting the positives to her parents, that gives them the opportunity to shut her down with whatever negatives exist. So get in front of that, identify the problems, and have solutions at the ready.
Additionally, do not dismiss their concerns. Instead, acknowledge them, and show that you’ve thought through ways to help alleviate their angst.
And then go ahead and use the words of Dharma’s friend. If you present them with the message that they’ve done such a great job raising their daughter, that she is strong and independent and more than capable in taking on this challenge, especially if she has their support, my hope is that they’ll be waving their flag of pride in what they’ve accomplished as parents.
Good luck, and feel free to come back and tell us how it all works out!