I have been homeschooled for my whole life until this year. I’m halfway through 12th grade in a public school. Whenever I leave the house, my parents are in constant contact. They are always asking if I’m OK, where I am, etc. I’m not doing anything wrong, but I hate the feeling of being monitored constantly, and I don’t want to worry about them. Sometimes I just don’t want to tell them what I’m doing, you know? How do I help make my parents more comfortable with the idea of me leaving the house without telling them exactly where I’ll be and how long I’ll be gone? —Mishka, 18
Girl, I feel this in my SOUL. I’ve been in public school for quite a few years now after growing up homeschooled. My parents can be worriers by nature sometimes, whether it shows by reminding me to be careful on my five-minute bike ride to a friend’s or telling me not to shower until one of them gets home in case I fall and hit my head. When I started attending my current high school, which gives students a lot of freedom on the local university campus, they asked me to text them every time I left the building and again when I was back. (And my mother reads everything I write for Rookie, regardless of subject matter. She’s probably reading this now. Hi, Mom!)
I don’t know how homeschooling worked for your family—whether you had a sit-down-and-study kind of environment that mimicked an actual classroom, or a system that left you with a lot more freedom, or maybe something in between. But if it was something like the former, where your parents might have been in close contact with you for most of the day, it does make sense that they might be a little overprotective now that their baby is making her own way in the world! I get called out sometimes for UNDERsharing with my family, so you could try what I do: If you see your parent(s) in the morning before school, briefly talk them through the day you have ahead of you. It doesn’t have to be anything special or heartfelt, but reminding them of your plans ahead of time could reduce some of the continuous checkups. Even just an, “I’m studying with Lucy at the library after school and I’ll be home around 5,” can make a big difference. Over time I was able to change that to something more like, “I might go out on campus today, but I’ll text you if I need anything.” In my experience, providing my family with a semi-frequent flow of information has mostly stopped them from requesting a constant one.
Of course, some parents just cannot be stopped, because they love you and you are their *baby* and they are Safety Parents™, which is what my fam jokingly calls themselves when they realize that they are being a bit intrusive. Are you planning to go to college away from home next year? (I’m only a junior, so I’m asking myself this as well!) If that’s on your radar, maybe bringing it up with your parents could help you indirectly gauge how they view your burgeoning independence. We all gotta get out there eventually. Good luck, good talks, good travels! —Lilly
My best friend (the most wonderful person in the entire world) is going through her first breakup. I’m fairly certain it was an emotionally manipulative/abusive relationship, and it kills me to hear her talk about how she’s broken. As someone who doesn’t have any firsthand experience with relationships, it hard for me to convince her that she’s worth more than what this guy thinks of her and that she shouldn’t give him the power to make her feel that way. What do I do? —Liz, 17, Los Angeles, CA
You DO have firsthand knowledge of relationships, Liz! You’ve had them all your life, even if they haven’t been romantic like your best friend’s (I’m going to call her Tina) was. You are someone’s best friend. That is a sacred duty, and you are the best person for Tina to forge ahead through this harsh realm beside.
Tina is in a tight spot, but she has to get out of it herself. You can’t flip her insecurities like a coin or glue her heart back together like a ceramic cup. You can’t grab her gently by her half of a best friend necklace and shake it, yelling, “IF YOU’RE GONNA ASSIGN YOUR SELF-WORTH TO ANYONE BESIDES YOURSELF, WHY NOT ME, YOUR BEST FRIEND LIZ!!!!” until she sees herself the way you see her: the most wonderful person in the entire world.
You can’t do anything but focus on communicating one glowing thing to Tina: “Even if you don’t think you got this, you got this. And until you know you got this, I got you.” Doing nothing may sound easy, but it is hard as hell. Watching someone that you scream-it-on-every-streetcorner cherish go through emotional agony that you can’t fix and can’t make go away can get tiring REALLY FAST. It won’t help Tina if you allow her sadness to take over your feelings, too.
Only Tina can, or should, change her mind about how she feels about herself. Build that. Don’t try and convince her to think she’s not “broken”—even though you have your mind perfectly right about how she’s worth more than how her ex values her, she needs someone to support her where she’s at, not try and tell her that her opinions are invalid. Instead, try telling her that while she thinks she’s not good enough, you don’t see it that way. Tell her what you told me—that to you, she is the most wonderful person in the entire world—and tell her everything that helped her earn that title, and why she’s so loved by you and, I’m sure, so many other people in her life. Talk about the things she’s done and how it’s affected you. Let her know in your eyes, she matters. A lot.
You also write that from the outside, Tina’s relationship looked like it had some abusive characteristics. That completely sucks and I wouldn’t be surprised, considering how invalidated Tina sounds in your letter. Just like before, even with your suspicions, you can’t tell her she was in an abusive relationship, but you can be there for her when and if she figures it out herself. This is not about what you want for Tina, this is about what Tina wants for Tina: The more you focus on that boundary, the easier it will be to support her. —Lola