Adult children breaking free from parents...without smashing relationship

How many of you are young adults, age 21-30? How many of you now have or once had a good relationship with your parents? How much freedom do you have from them?

And how did you get that freedom? And if your parents cling on too much, how do you break free?

I live in an apartment about 20 minutes from my parents, and support myself with a full-time job. I lived with my parents for about 2 years prior to this, and for some of that time I had a full-time job.

My Dad expects to know where I am and what I’m doing at all times. That’s a bit of an overexaggeration, but not a lot. He found out I’m going to another town two hours away today, and he wanted to know what I was doing there, exactly where I would be, and he said I need to call him on my way back. I think this is unreasonable.

He wants to know what I do and where I go, and I can’t understand why. He still thinks I’m a Christian, and it would be a big deal if he knew I was questioning those beliefs. It would be an even bigger deal if/when he realized that means I’m also questioning his beliefs on sex before marriage, drinking alcohol, etc.

If I wasn’t questioning those beliefs, though, would I still be so upset about him asking all those questions?

I’m in such a conflicted state. I don’t know if I just try to ignore him, or if I make it into a confrontation that will turn into something huge. I don’t even know how much is him being unreasonable and how much is me being unreasonable.

I do like my parents. I go to their house sometimes and watch TV, and it’s nice. Sometimes I go there just because I get tired of being in this apartment alone. Me and some friends from church go there on Saturday nights and hang out together. Do I have an obligation to tell all those people where I am going every Saturday night if I choose to miss our regular get-together?

When I was in college, I lived 700 miles away from Dad and went wherever I wanted without having to tell him about it. When I spent 8 months in Africa, I did need to tell my team leader what I was doing most of the time, but he didn’t keep close tabs on me. When I moved out of their house into my own apartment, I thought that would give me more freedom of motion, but it’s only partially worked.

I long for that freedom to do things without worrying what he will think, but I don't want to completely cut him off or make him think I'm against him.

Is there a way to tell Dad I don’t need him checking up on me constantly without it turning into a big fight? If I tell him this, will he immediately realize I’m an atheist; must I come out to him in order to make him really understand? Or would any reasonable person ask for more freedom, even if they were still a Christian?

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Ug, yes...but it's hard to communicate clearly, especially when he's pretty clear that what he wants and what I want don't quite line up.


Your dad sounds out of touch and very traditional. Getting married might make him let you go but imagine if he was like that around your spouse. 

Do your parents use technology - the internet?

Because there are a lot of people in a certain generation 60's onward maybe - who dont have or make the most of current technology and it keeps them way behind in changing attitudes. It would be the difference between having a television and not. Im only asking this because i think that if they are not using internet then they are possibly untrainable and your doomed to have him baby you forever.

Maybe when you visit him you could ask his advice about some things and pretend to take that advice if you have to.. That might make him feel that you still value him.

I wonder what bible instruction he's using in his own mind to justify what he's doing or, doest he even see it?

and its not just him either - theres something about you allowing him to do it thats also causing the problem.




Can you write a typical dialogue of how the conversation between you and your dad would go?

Just a few lines.


One form of love, especially at your age, is independence. That is a two edged sword though, so be careful.

You'll have your independence when you assert your independence. You can approach this two ways: trying to figure out why he's doing it and come to some sort of agreement or just tell him how it's going to be because you're an adult now and not going to keep living under his thumb.

Bring up that they didn't keep tabs on you while you were in college. Bring up that they trusted you to be able to take care of yourself in a foreign country for 8 months. Bring up that you are an adult with a full time job and your own place and doing well for yourself. Tell him that he taught you well and he doesn't need to look after you anymore. Let him know his behavior really bothers you because you think he being to clingy.

If you really want, then ask some questions to find out why he's being like that. Don't worry, this doesn't have anything to do with atheist/Christian differences. It's just something that some some of us have to contend with as we grow older: parents who still want to treat you like a child. You aren't being unreasonable at all and if you weren't questioning your beliefs, then this would still be bothering you.

This situation never happened to me because my parents never really checked up on me to begin with, but it probably helped that I moved 4,000 miles away and then later joined the Army. I definitively left the nest and never went back.

Thanks you guys. I feel so stupid after I post here sometimes. I read what I wrote up there (while I was angry) and of course I overexaggerated it. But your advice is still helpful, and that link about dealing with controlling parents is good too.


"I feel so stupid after I post here sometimes."

Dont worry - your not the only one.

Ugg...I still haven't worked out how to make this better. I'm going to come on here and vent sometime in the next day or two.


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