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Teenage Problems/Are my parents crazy?

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Question
I am a 13 year old boy. My parents yell at me for everything. My mom yells at me when I call her "Mom" instead of "Mommy." My dad still makes me call him "Daddy." (I actually got serious punishments for violating that.) I am not allowed to watch PG movies or TV-Y7 shows. Do you need another example? I got in trouble for having a calculator in my room. A FUCKING CALCULATOR!!! The punishments I got for having a calculator were more severe than what regular parents do to teens with alcohol. Also, I am not allowed to have friends. Do you get it? (Note: There is no abuse going on, so my parents have broken no laws.)

Answer
Hi there Bruce,

Thank you for taking the time to write to me and I hope that I can help.

From what you have explained, in particular around having to call your parents 'mommy' and 'daddy', it sounds like that they may be having difficulty in accepting that you are starting to get older and want to be treated more like an adult. By getting you to call them by those names, it is almost keeping you as a young child and this may be because they do not want to accept that you are getting older either because they are worried about how quickly you are growing up and soon will be an adult or they do not want to accept that you are older because it means that they are older. This kind of behaviour would likely be seen if either you are an only child or the you are the youngest and your siblings have either left home already or are going to be soon. It is a form of self-protection that you parents use to ensure that they feel that they have some sense of control over something and they do at this moment in time, you.

I am not a parent (although I have worked with lots of people who are) and I cannot judge your parents' parenting style. If you have a loving family that cares for you, provides for you and wants the best for you then everything else is secondary. However, I do understand that at the age of 13, calling your mom 'mommy' and your dad 'daddy' might be quite embarrassing and a little patronising especially if you have to do this when other people are around.

From what you have said about not being able to watch PG movies and not being allowed to have a calculator in your room, it does support the idea that your parents may be over parenting you meaning that they believe being strict on you and treating you like a child younger than you are will help you to become a better person. In reality, by not allowing you a sense of freedom and independence, they may be setting you up to fail as you get older as you will not have had the social experiences that your peers have had that will allow you to make friends and find a partner. Although their intentions may be good and i agree with parents setting boundaries with their children, lack of exposure to the real world will again cause you problems in the future because you will have a very narrow view of the World which will come from only what you have been allowed to see by them.

You are in a difficult situation because you are a child and will be until you turn the legal age that changes that definition. You need your parents and the love and support that they give you; but you also want your freedom and the question is about how do you go about it?

Whenever there are problems between children and their parents, the first bit of advice I always give is to talk to them and be honest about how you feel. This gives you a chance to air your views, your concerns and to show them how their actions make you feel. It also gives you a chance to ask them why they do the things that they do or feel the way that they do. If you and them have an understanding of why you don't like doing certain things but they know why then it means that they will understand why you put resistance up. Similarly, if you find out that the reason that they protect you so much is because they are worried about something happening to you, then you have a discussion around what you can do to protect yourself when you are out and about and how you will let them know that you are safe. Fear of something happening to their children is a big barrier to parents allowing their children freedom. if you can answer everyone of their concerns by showing that you have thought about it and have a solution that reduce the chance of something happening, then they are more likely to back down because you have shown maturity.

In regards to having to call them 'mommy' and 'daddy', again, I would explain that you do not like doing this and it embarrasses you and ask them why they insist on it. Ask them if there is a compromise and if not, then it may be something you have to do whilst you live with them until either you move out when you are old enough or they accept that you are at an age where they do not think it is no longer appropriate. It may be a pain to do this but if they let up on your freedom, it might not be so bad in the long run.

I hope this helps.

Teenage Problems

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Daryl Taylor, BSc (Hons) Psychology, PGDip (pending certification)

Expertise

My expertise covers everything and anything to do with growing up, being a teenager or a young adult or being the parent of one of the pre-described. I can cover issues on identity, sexuality, love, relationships, families, drug/alcohol abuse and anything and everything in between.

Experience

I have volunteered for AllExperts.com for over ten years now, but even before that I was trying to use my experience to help others by working with Advice4teens.co.uk, Teenadviceonline.org and even Lycos and Ask Jeeves. My experience comes from being a teenager primarily but this lead me to work with young people from the age of 13. I have worked front line, face to face and over the telephone, e-mail and webchat for a government department called Connexions UK (aimed at young people aged 13-19); as well as being student counselor in New York, a Peer Mentor, a student teacher and working for my school, college and University to help raise the aspirations of young people. My life has not been easy and I have been through my fair share of issues; so there is little that I haven't been through in reality opposed to just reading it from a book or from my academic studies. I have been featured as a case study as achieving through adversity for a number of magazines and I have featured in a couple of books on both sides of the Atlantic; even though I am UK based.

Organizations
The Albert Kennedy Trust

Publications
Relationships: Cathy Senker, 2012, Raintree The Dean and Chapter Positive Nation GTEN Television Aim Higher

Education/Credentials
BSc(Hons) Psychology Post Graduate Diploma in Multidisciplinary Design Innovation Basic Counselling Skills Effective Listening Skills Mental Health First Aid

Awards and Honors
Outstanding Student achievement Adult learner's Award

Past/Present Clients
Allexperts.com Advice4teensuk.org Teenadviceonline.org lycos.co.uk askjeeves.com Connexions Direct

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