I mean I sure wouldn't want to know how often THEY get it on.
October 24, 2011 7:13 PM   Subscribe

As an adult, how honest should one be with parents?

First of all, my family isn't super duper close, but we've always gone through the motions of going out on birthdays, a family vacation here and there, me coming home every vacation in college to spend time with them. Now that I'm out of school and working full-time a couple hours away, they still expect me to call on the weekends and visit whenever I have a holiday.

Recently, things have gotten more serious with my SO, and I've been spending weekends at his place, something that my parents have made clear would be end-of-the-world, catastrophic-level immoral/unsafe. So I haven't told them. I'm typically a pretty honest person, though, so when they call me Sunday morning, it makes me extremely uncomfortable to have to lie to them about where I am. It also makes me feel a bit like they're still checking up on my whereabouts, even now that I'm no longer living at home.

To get to the point of this question, I'm grateful for what my parents have done for me, and I don't want to do wrong by them. I don't think it makes me a bad person to omit details, necessarily, but I still wonder if I'm being unfair to them, or somehow betraying them, by lying to them.

My parents have never really spoken to me about sex, except maybe "don't do it." They are religious, conservative, and don't communicate well with me about things in general. Sometimes I think that they might even prefer not to know.

How have you handled this issue with your parents/children? Is it wrong of me not to tell them? And maybe more in general, how much do my parents really need to know about my life, now that I'm no longer living with them?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (41 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Your parents do not need to know about your sex life. This is one of those times when lies of omission are totally cool.
posted by HMSSM at 7:20 PM on October 24, 2011 [50 favorites]

Is it wrong of me not to tell them?
No. You are an adult. It's none of their business.

And maybe more in general, how much do my parents really need to know about my life, now that I'm no longer living with them?
Whatever you wish to disclose. Entirely up to you.
posted by pupstocks at 7:21 PM on October 24, 2011 [8 favorites]

The thing about being a grownup...is that you get to decide. Yay, you!

Your decisions about how you live your life and where you sleep are entirely up to you. Disclosing to them (or not) that you have a SO (with whom you enjoy sleepovers) can be done entirely on your schedule. If at all.

They don't "need" to know anything. You're not betraying them. This is adulthood -- you're fine.
posted by pantarei70 at 7:21 PM on October 24, 2011 [8 favorites]

I come from a conservative family, too, and some things just aren't parents' business. I take it you don't live with them. Why do they need to know where you slept? If you must say anything, just say "I'm at SO's right now" and then let them think whatever they will. If they would actually press for details, then they're the ones who have stepped over the line.
posted by katillathehun at 7:21 PM on October 24, 2011 [4 favorites]

I am a parent, and I'm not conservative. I still don't want to know about my kids' sexlife(s).
posted by b33j at 7:24 PM on October 24, 2011 [12 favorites]

My parents have never really spoken to me about sex, except maybe "don't do it." They are religious, conservative, and don't communicate well with me about things in general. Sometimes I think that they might even prefer not to know.

I don't think you have any obligation to tell them you're staying over with your SO now, but you might want to consider it at some point, so they can commence with getting over it. Because at some point the not-parent's-business sex life stuff might intersect with things they probably should know like "hey, I'm moving in with [SO]".
posted by ghharr at 7:25 PM on October 24, 2011 [4 favorites]

One suggestion for you, OP, is to set up a regular phone call time with your parents that is more convenient for you, like maybe Sunday evening instead of morning (or like Tuesday night or whatever). I don't think having a regular call appointment is a bad thing -- it can be nice -- but in the age of cell phones, it can feel like they are trying to be up in your business where they don't belong. Just make arrangements that work for your new out-in-the-world lifestyle. If you're worried about them making assumptions about why Sunday morning isn't good or if they try to demand to know why it's not good, just tell them you're having brunch dates with friends a lot or whatever. (If you and your SO go to Sunday brunch, it's not even a lie. Bonus!)
posted by pupstocks at 7:25 PM on October 24, 2011 [10 favorites]

I also don't think it's necessarily their business.

However, I know a lot of families get into a habit where they expect to speak to one another at certain times of the week and I don't see why you can't suggest to your parents that a certain day/time is better for you due to your busy work/school/social schedule. You would probably feel much more comfortable sharing details of what you are up to, if you weren't up to it at the precise moment they're calling.

I've been married for ten years and my kids are now old enough to get up and make their own breakfasts on weekends and I really wish my husband would tell his parents to stop calling before noon on a Saturday, because I'm not crazy about having to pretend I'm awake when they call.
posted by padraigin at 7:29 PM on October 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

My mom was not in the least conservative and we did not ever talk about each other's sex lives. Relationship stuff, sure; but not sex stuff.
posted by rtha at 7:29 PM on October 24, 2011

Are you still financially dependent on them? Many parents feel like they still have control over their kids' lives if they're subsidizing them in some way, and so they might be extra pushy if that's the case. I'm not saying you have to do whatever your parents want if you're still financially dependent on them, but that this may be a situation where you're both coming at the issue from very different perspectives and might require a little more delicacy on your end.

That said, I think it's none of their business where you're spending your time and you can keep your sleepovers private if you want. It sounds like you're chafing a little bit about the timing of the phone call home -- can you reorganize the situation so that you're the one who calls so that you have a little more control over the situation? Simply being able to choose when you make the call can both reduce the "I'm lying to them" feeling and also reduce the feeling of obligation to drop everything and "check in" with them. Say that Sunday mornings are a bad time because you'd like to sleep in, or you're starting a yoga class, or just a general "mornings aren't good for me, can I call you back after lunch?" After a couple deferrals like that they should get the hint; if not you can escalate to a more direct conversation about the call.
posted by lilac girl at 7:29 PM on October 24, 2011

If I were in your place I'd let the phone go to voice mail. Why on Earth are they calling first thing on a weekend morning anyway? Then when you call back later you can just tell them you shut your ringer off so you could relax on your day off. That's normal.

I don't think lying is the issue. I think it's about space. They're treating you like a little kid but you want to be a grown up. Set some boundaries. Start a tradition of a "date" where you call them every Sunday night. Let the phone go to voice mail if it's not a good time.


BTW, my mom is crazy. If I didn't use little white lies to deal with her I would be unable to live my own life. I think of it like a role reversal. She lied to me when I was a little kid (Santa, Tooth Fairy) to keep me happy, I lie to her now to keep the peace.
posted by TooFewShoes at 7:31 PM on October 24, 2011 [21 favorites]

When they call you Sunday morning, let it go to voicemail. If it's not an emergency and you're not due home, they don't need to talk to you right then.

The sleepover issue is just a part of a larger issue: you're uncomfortable telling your parents "hey, I'm gonna do my own thing instead." Your relationship with them is propped up by a sense of obligation. Start by seeing what happens when you miss that call and return it a couple hours later. From there, you can move on to other things, like staying put and hanging out with your friends on a holiday weekend.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:35 PM on October 24, 2011 [5 favorites]

When they call you Sunday morning, let it go to voicemail. If it's not an emergency and you're not due home, they don't need to talk to you right then.

Yeah, the idea that you MUST. PICK. UP. THE. PHONE. when they call is really foreign to me. Do your parents really have that kind of sway in your life? If so, I think the first step is to loosen that bond. I'm probably a bad example of the opposite extreme (my mom complains that she can't get in touch with me for weeks) but there's surely a middle ground where you call them back later that day or the next day ... and that's okay. A lot of people I know don't return their parents' calls immediately.
posted by jayder at 7:45 PM on October 24, 2011 [12 favorites]

They'll figure it out eventually. Might as well tell them in a way that will make it as easy as possible.
posted by miyabo at 7:48 PM on October 24, 2011

I'm typically a pretty honest person, though, so when they call me Sunday morning, it makes me extremely uncomfortable to have to lie to them about where I am.

This implies they're calling your cell phone. Can't you see that it's them calling with caller ID? Why do you need to answer the phone at all?
posted by John Cohen at 7:48 PM on October 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

My parents are like that too. (Or were, before I got married.) Just don't tell them, lie if absolutely necessary, and don't feel bad about it. You know you are not doing anything wrong. Their morals don't match yours, and that's okay, but if they are going to turn it into a huge crisis (my dad stopped speaking to me!) then your choices are to accept the huge crisis, let them control you, or omit/lie. I think the latter is the best out of those options.
posted by chickenmagazine at 7:49 PM on October 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

My mom is incredibly liberal. I am comfortable discussing sex with her, but there are other things I feel she doesn't need to know. Each adult person gets to set his or her own boundaries when it comes to discussing things with parents.

That said, my mom is cool, but if she called me first thing on Sunday morning, we'd have to have a come-to-Jesus-meetin'. And I am not referring to church.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 8:00 PM on October 24, 2011

What happens if you don't pick up the phone? Do they keep calling until you do? (Been there, still there sometimes!) If they do keep calling until you answer, you may need to explicitly ask them to call at a different time as letting the call go to voicemail just results in... more calls.

When you've had a certain level of communication with parents, changing it can take a bit of time and feeling out. Start by observing (not judging) what happens when you tell them certain things (nothing new, just the sort of things you'd tell them normally) and how you feel about telling them and how you feel about their reactions. That way you can test what you're actually comfortable with vs. what you're used to telling them.

(By way of background, I've been through a process of telling my parents less and less -- it's hard work and can be a bit painful, but it's worth it.)
posted by prettypretty at 8:03 PM on October 24, 2011

Parent/child relationships are as different as relationships with SO's. There's no right or wrong, only the relationship you have. I would not have told my mom that I was spending the weekends at someone's apartment because it would have upset her to no purpose. I wouldn't have told my Dad because he wouldn't have cared. (Not that he was uncaring, just that he'd have been more interested in how my job was going.) But conversely, I'd be a bit taken aback if my own (grown) kid was that involved with somebody to the point of "every weekend" but hadn't given me a vague, general idea (God, I don't want specifics) that she was getting seriously involved with someone. She, on the other hand, would be floored and angry if I took it upon myself to moralize about it. What I'm getting at is that the relationships aren't even the same for one person, much less between people. There's no standard that you ought to be judging yourself by except one of mutual love and respect.
posted by tyllwin at 8:05 PM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

So, is it just the lying about where you are on Sunday mornings that is upsetting to you?
Or are you feeling like you are not being honest about the depth of this whole relationship?

How would you feel about calling them up on Saturday afternoons to check in--and at some point [in a few weeks, months, whatever] let them know why you're calling them a day early.

"well, I'll be at Joe's place tomorrow..."

I don't think they r-e-a-l-l-y want to know what you're up to, but they do want you to be safe.

The only line my parents drew for me when I went away to school was that as long as they were paying for my schooling, they didn't want me to move in with a guy.

It seemed very reasonable to me. Whatever else I did while at school was my business--I was 18 years old and knew I was responsible for my choices and for keeping myself safe and healthy.
posted by calgirl at 10:10 PM on October 24, 2011

I come from a close-knit, rather stereotypical Jewish family where I've had a standing Sunday morning phone call from my parents ever since I left for college over 20 years ago. Like you, I'm not comfortable with the idea of straight out lying to them. So, in my 20s, when my weekends were likely to entail a decent amount of irresponsible drinking and, if I was lucky, unmarried sex, I just learned to be vague ("I went out with some friends", "I went on a date, nothing serious") rather than creep out my parents with a more detailed explanation.
posted by The Gooch at 11:10 PM on October 24, 2011

I agree with the previous posters that your parents absolutely don't need to know about your sex life. But the question isn't about sharing every little detail - it's about honesty. And this:
I'm typically a pretty honest person, though, so when they call me Sunday morning, it makes me extremely uncomfortable to have to lie to them about where I am. It also makes me feel a bit like they're still checking up on my whereabouts, even now that I'm no longer living at home.
really rings true to me, in that you are lying (at least by omission), and as an adult, you really have no reason to. You are doing nothing wrong in staying over with your partner! Lying about it just makes you feel like you are doing something wrong!

Part of being an adult is owning the choices you make as an independent person. From this perspective, the lying to your parents about your whereabouts conflicts with this principle - teenagers sneak around behind their parents' backs, not adults. I have my own experience with this - the first boyfriend I ever lived with (with some other people as well, but we shared a bedroom) my father never once set foot in that apartment, even though he would often drop me off at the front door after I went to visit my family for the evening (we all lived in the same city). You can be honest to a point ('we're living together') and parents have a way of, well, contorting themselves to only see as much truth as they're prepared to accept.

It was difficult for me as I age to come to grips with the ways in which my ethics conflict with that of my parents, but being open with them, unapologetically, was key to gaining my own, well, mental freedom I guess you could say. I would strongly encourage you to examine these uncomfortable feelings you have and see if your actions match up with your own expectations of how much adults who care about each other should share about their lives.
posted by aiglet at 11:17 PM on October 24, 2011 [4 favorites]

I'm hones with my parents, but honest doesn't mean I give them TMI.
You don't need to lie in order to not tell them.You can be open (if pressed) that you regard the topic as private, and won't be talking about it.

This might be better for setting boundaries and being your own adult, but if you think that for some reason it will cause them great distress and you want to cushion their lives, then maybe it's worth it to you to lie. Personally, I prefer not to, and I just be upfront when I'm not going to go into further detail.
posted by -harlequin- at 11:35 PM on October 24, 2011


I grew up when cell phones just got started. This may seem weird to you, but once upon a time, there was only land lines and no voice answer machines. And the we got answer machines. Then finally, cell phones.


For the rest of your life, please treat your cell phone as a luxury and utility, but never as a necessity.

Turn it off when you are out with friends. Turn it off when you are sleeping (at least airplane mode.) Train your parents and others to learn that you'll return call when convenient.

I don't know why folks now treat that ring as mandatory - but it is not.

This isn't even about your parents. It is about you interacting fully wherever you are. That phone is nothing compared to being in the moment and in control of your own time.

Disengage from that electronic leash. Full stop.
posted by SockyMcSockyPants at 11:50 PM on October 24, 2011 [12 favorites]

I think that the right way is to follow with loving kindness, your way. Personally I was completely honest with my mother (father was dead) my whole adult life - drugs; pregnant girl friend back when that was a social 'crime'; whatever came up in conversation - just as with a close friend. It made for a great relationship, mainly because it helped her to accept me as an equal adult rather than a life-long child.
posted by nickji at 12:37 AM on October 25, 2011

This is why god made voice mail. Let it roll over there, call them back later in the day. Or not -- up to you. I've learned so much from younger people (younger than I -- 56) about using voice mail and/or text msgs, like as not they'll respond to calls with txt msgs and while that jangled me for a while, I've now come to understand it and embrace it, too. Which does not make some of my family members too very happy. But, as someone upthread noted -- these things are tools, great tools, to be used to fashion your life how you ideally want to communicate.

FYI -- if you have Sprint cell phone, they are well integrated with Google Voice, and google voice in conjunction with them has the voice mail setup from hell, you can set up your phone to not answer at certain times (go right to voice mail) and/or you can set up that certain people go direct to voice mail each time they call, etc and etc. For all I know all cell providers are really great with this sort of thing by now, no telling, so maybe contact your provider and find out. I'm sold on all of these conveniences, I'm not going backwards if I can help it.

BTW, my 90 year old mother holds her 23 year old granddaughter (my niece) my mother holds her in harsh judgment because she is spending time with her sweetie, maybe they even live together, I don't know. I laughed outright when my mother told me about it, it's so completely bizarre, I didn't mean to laugh at her but come on, Mom, get with the program. Plus my nieces sweetie is such a great guy that I want to kiss him myself, he's good as gold. It's all just lunacy.

Maybe you can tell your parents you didn't answer because you were in church when they called?
posted by dancestoblue at 1:14 AM on October 25, 2011

As an adult, how honest should one be with parents?

Do you see them as peers/friends now whose company is enjoyable, or do you see them as a liability?

They are religious, conservative, and don't communicate well with me about things in general.

I see. Lie...for their sake.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:21 AM on October 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

Well, I've been in this situation. I tried white lies; I tried lies of omission. The only problem you may run into there is that your parents will construct a little idea of their own about what your life is like and will be shattered to feel you couldn't trust them. (Even though you totally couldn't, but they won't see it like that.)

So after you send their call to voicemail this Sunday morning, your Sunday evening conversation might go like this:

"I called earlier but you didn't pick up. Were you doing something fun?"
"Yes, I was at Dude's. We were __________." [fill in the blank with something innocuous, unless you were actually knocking boots, in which case say "hanging out."
"That's nice, sweetie."

I've learned that your parents will treat you like an adult if you treat them like adults. They don't need to be coddled or protected. You are entitled to live your life as you see fit, and it's up to them to deal with it or not. So I don't think you should lie, but you should be minimally truthful. Your parents will put it together and probably not pry into your sex life once they realize you've got one.

Another way to say this is that your mother probably won't call you on a Sunday morning if she thinks you're at Dude's, but right now she's got no reason to think that.

If they can't handle it and start weeping and trying to peek into your sex life, come back to us.
posted by motsque at 4:33 AM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

On the other issue: How often should you go home to see your family as an adult? I think this is very dependent on how far away they are..

in my twenties I lived about 2-3 hours from my family and was lucky to make it back 4-5 times a year. Which was basically for a day / night for birthdays and maybe 3-4 days around Christmas and maybe once for 'no significant reason'.

At some point you have to live a life of your own.. go out make friends where you live etc.. aren't you missing out on lots of stuff cause you have to go 'home' every weekend?
posted by mary8nne at 4:53 AM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's none of their business. Seriously. You tell them when you want to introduce him to the family and even then you don't need to disclose how many nights you sleep over at his house.

And really they don't want to know. Your parents join the ranks of many others whose beliefs demand totally unreasonable and unrealistic behavior that they were unlikely to have even followed at your age. But they are nice enough to not ask so you should return the favor by not telling.
posted by whoaali at 5:35 AM on October 25, 2011

The phrase "don't ask, don't tell", however problematic it may have been in the military, works quite well in families. Don't lie, but don't volunteer information either. They don't want to know every hairy detail, any more than you'd want to know about their intimacies with others. So don't lie about being at your SO's place if they happen to call you there. And if they should begin to lecture you about it, or ask questions that are too personal, you can just say, quietly but firmly, "It's my decision," or, "That's very personal information," and then change the subject.
posted by orange swan at 5:47 AM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

I suspect they'd rather not know (as you suggest in your question). If you told them, you'd be helping yourself feel more honest. And that's about all you'd gain. You won't have a better relationship with them, or make them happy, or really even feel better yourself, because they'll probably judge or in some way make it into a thing. You're honoring the core of what they want, keeping yourself safe and happy. They don't need to know you're sleeping over at your SO's.

Work them into a new call time (like Sunday evening), and stop feeling obligated to pick up the phone and talk every time they call. As far as holidays home, I've got no good advice on that other than t some point you just have to do it, but it might be easier if you had a trip planned or some other "good excuse".
posted by mrs. taters at 6:36 AM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

There are two approaches you can take with this:

- Direct: reschedule the weekend call
- Indirect: don't answer, or set up Google Voice to not ring your phone before X time

Which approach will net you the best results will depend on your family. In my family, the indirect/passive-aggressive approach is what typically happens. I tend to prefer the direct approach, because then you are more in control of the reaction, especially if your parents tend to catastrophize (e.g. "Oh no! Bookdragoness didn't answer! Maybe she's dead in a ditch somewhere!"). I find that the indirect approach causes much more explosive/reactionary results/drama, especially when breaking a long-held routine without prior notice.

My parents are pretty passive-aggressive, and fall directly in the "Guess" portion of Ask/Guess culture. By giving them a reason for the change up-front (even "I've been super busy and won't be available for X weeks" or "Sundays are really not working for me any more - how about Wednesday night?"), you control the scope of the reaction and the change becomes reasonable and expected.

That said, as an adult, you control what information they have. Do they know you're dating? Maybe lead off with "late plans on Saturday night, so I'm going to sleep in on Sundays".

For holidays, determine which ones really matter, and start skipping out on or cutting short the others. "Plans with friends" works well. Inform them in advance, again, so they know what to expect.

It sucks to dread phone calls and time with your loved ones, so I wish you the best in redefining your relationship/contact with your parents.
posted by bookdragoness at 6:45 AM on October 25, 2011

Family phone time is one of those things that really varies from family to family. My mother wants/expects to spend an hour on the phone with me once a week. And it's scheduled. Mr. ambrosia has much shorter, unscheduled calls randomly sprinkled across the week. I wish such a thing were possible with my parents, but it just isn't.

So I'd suggest a couple of things to the OP. Definitely reschedule away from Sunday morning if you aren't entirely comfortable with talking to them from your SO's place without saying so. Do that proactively, rather than just not answering the phone.

But you might consider laying the groundwork to give yourself some flexibility. I was in your shoes 20 years ago, and cheerfully accommodated my parents' wishes about phone calls and so forth, and now the pattern has been so deeply carved in stone that there is no escaping it. Every Sunday morning I dutifully call my parents, and if some circumstances mean I have to get off the phone in under 60 minutes, my mother feels a bit put out, as if she's been shortchanged somehow. How I regret setting the pattern that created that expectation. I have two small children, and that hour on the phone with them consumes some precious "me time". There are a lot of reasons why I'm not going to try to change it now, I won't go into it, but heed my cautionary tale.

What I would suggest you do is start randomly calling your parents for brief chats at unscheduled times. If they can't talk, no biggie. Keep it casual. Then start cutting your Sunday talks shorter- make some plans if you need to, so that you can honestly say "I'm meeting friends for brunch/a movie/shopping" etc. After a while just turn your phone off or let their calls roll into voice mail on Sunday mornings. Break the patten of the scheduled phone call *now* so that you aren't a prisoner to it 20 years from now, the way I am.

A lot of the same applies to holidays: you are starting to set patterns with your family, so think about what will work for you in the long term. Expectations breed resentment, so nip that in the bud now.
posted by ambrosia at 10:12 AM on October 25, 2011

I don't really see how "I'm at my boyfriend's house at 8am" is the same thing as "I spent half the night in doggy and another good 3 hours doing oral." Telling her where you are has nothing to do with sharing your sex life.

If it's pertinent to the conversation, go ahead and tell your parent where you slept. If they want to infer that that makes you someone of loose moral character, screw 'em.
posted by coolguymichael at 11:46 AM on October 25, 2011

Don't lie to them. And certainly don't tell them you went to church, for goodness sake!

You are an adult, aren't you? You have a right to privacy. You don't have to volunteer anything you don't want to or justify your actions to your parents any more.

Which is why I don't think you should lie! People who tell you to lie to your parents now that you are in your early twenties, "For their sake," are actually not being honest right here in this thread--we all know it's for your own sake you'd lie, because you don't want a confrontation or a lecture about your actions. I don't blame you, I don't like confrontations either, and I know this whole situation is uncomfortable for you, but consider this: How old do YOU feel you should be to be considered an independent adult? If you think, NOW (you're on your own, you have a job, you're old enough to drink and everything else, so I'd certainly agree), don't be ashamed of that. You are making your own decisions and living your life the way you think is best for you. Own it.

So, if you don't want them calling on Sunday morning, ask them to call another time because that is a bad time for you. If they ask why, be honest but no more forthcoming than necessary--"I'm usually with Boyfriend at that time," works. If they press to know more or start treating you like a child, you need to be able to gently but firmly assert yourself. Either tell them the truth, "Well, I spend most nights at Boyfriend's now, and that's too early for us," or just reiterate that you would prefer they call at another time. There's no reason to lie.

You know what else? These lies almost always come out eventually anyway, and then they are compounded by hurt feelings. Parents who find out after the fact that, for example, their daughter has been living with her steady boyfriend for the last six months will feel betrayed if they never even knew she had a boyfriend at all, and it's hard to recover from a falling-out of that magnitude.

As for visiting, I think you need to decide how often you want to go back home, and then tell your parents. Remember, you are not asking permission (or rubbing it in their faces like you are defying them) because that's how kids act. You are an adult young woman stating her intentions, "Mom, Dad, I'll just be coming home about one a month now. I have other demands on my time and I am spreading myself too thin as it is."

Believe me, this assertiveness will pay off as you see your parents accepting your transition from 'our little girl' to 'all grown up'. The longer you put off establishing your own boundaries, the worse their demands on your time will become.
posted by misha at 3:02 PM on October 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

I agree with Misha. You are an adult. You get to make your own decisions. Your parents don't have to agree with them, but they have to respect them. It's your life!

I have no problem telling my family, "We don't really discuss that subject well and I want to have a good time with you. Let's talk about *that local sports team*!" Rinse, repeat.
posted by kamikazegopher at 4:57 PM on October 25, 2011

My parents are Orthodox Jews who desperately wanted me to stay Orthodox, avoid premarital sex, etc. etc. My life got a whole lot better when I stopped sneaking around like I was doing something wrong and started being honest. I didn't volunteer that I was having sex (although I did volunteer that I wasn't Orthodox any more) but if I was going away for the weekend with my girlfriend, I'd say that I was going away for the weekend with my girlfriend.

They're the ones with the problem, not you. If they think that staying over at a guy's house is "end-of-the-world, catastrophic-level immoral/unsafe" then tough for them. You're an adult now. They can get over it or not, it's not up to you, but it's not your responsibility to "protect" them from reality. They're grown-ups, as are you.

You also have the right to not be lectured. Just tell them you don't want to hear it and walk out or hang up until they learn. Or, if you prefer, feel free to argue with them and defend yourself.

Honesty also opens the possibility of a more authentic relationship with them instead of "going through the motions."
posted by callmejay at 8:45 PM on October 25, 2011

I think you yourself have just a little uncertainty about how to pull away and that's all this is -- your parents also have uncertainty. It is easier on both sides if you take charge and decide how you are going to handle phone calls (initiate or schedule calls and let people know that sometimes you intend to be unreachable but you'll always call back) and do the same about visits. Decide you are going to protect your privacy. Sometimes young people have to train parents not to drop in on them, for example, or not to expect them for every conceivable holiday. Your parents will follow your lead and, even though it might be wobbly at first, it will work. It will help them if you take the lead and if they see that you are confident, happy and comfortable with your life. Share judiciously about your activities and your friends -- you don't have to be secretive. They're not trying to hurt you; they just don''t know how much to let go.

I think you're smart to think early on about how to navigate this and I hope you can begin as you mean to continue. Don't worry. You actually hold all the cards. Parents usually seem to love their children more than the children love their parents so they'll do whatever you need them to do in order to keep in touch. I wish you all smooth sailing.
posted by Anitanola at 9:30 PM on October 25, 2011

Consider whether this is likely to snowball into a bigger issue that would result in more hiding/lying or a big confrontation. I didn't tell my mom what I was doing in college, and I regularly went to church and had a social circle at church. That combination meant she thought I was a "good girl" by her standards and held her same beliefs. After college, I was no longer financially dependent and therefore was sick of the sneaking around and lies by omission. Mom was nutty enough to ask whether I was sleeping with my boyfriend (who is now my husband), and I was honest. She therefore thought he was a bad influence because it seemed like a drastic change from what she knew of me. It has become worse because then I moved in with him and then I stopped going to church. Because she only saw part of the story, she's made a lot of assumptions about my husband and it makes things difficult. I'm not sure if I'd do it differently (I could have continued to lie/omit or been upfront a lot earlier). If you see the potential for that kind of conflict, consider whether you want to still have that sneaking around feeling possibly years into the future or if you'd rather deal with the conflict. I don't think there's a moral obligation one way or the other - it's just personal preference. I decided I hated lying more.
posted by Terriniski at 5:29 AM on October 26, 2011

You are free to tell as much as you like. Sometime I find communicating to them will make my life easier because I don't have to hide anything.
If you think they know very little about you, and you want to catch up on that, try telling little by little, they might be completely cool with it since you are an adult now.
posted by artofgiving at 12:45 AM on November 8, 2011

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