Do you let your parents know every time you get back from a day trip?
June 16, 2021 8:56 PM   Subscribe

I live alone, but whenever I go on a day, weekend or other trip, my father expects me to phone and let him know that I got home safe afterwards. How common is this for fully adult children, and how can I most effectively draw boundaries?

I’m 37 and have lived alone in three different safe, developed countries since I was 18. Whenever I go on a day, weekend or other trip, my father expects me to phone and let him know that I got home safe afterwards. In the past, this has included waiting up until I do so despite a 5-hour time difference, and becoming irritated if I’m delayed, or if I can’t give an exact arrival time because I’m travelling with friends. I understand that this comes from a place of love and probably an anxiety disorder, and in the past I’ve tried to go along with it for those reasons, but it shows no signs of abating and I’m finding it increasingly frustrating, infantilising and anxiety-inducing.
I’d like to get a sense of whether other people do this, and how best to draw boundaries. If it helps, my family is from two different Western European countries, and I’m an only child.
posted by jlibera to Human Relations (53 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
If they know I've been traveling, I let people know. Which is more likely my boss, who knows if I've been driving 500 miles that day because he's the one who dispatched me. All I do is text him a house emoji ( 🏡 ) and he replies "thank you". My father does more leisure traveling than I do and he usually lets me know when he's back in town by sending a short SMS as well. FWIW I'm a few years older than you, and my mother is passed, and as a result my father and I have a somewhat closer relationship now than we used to, since we're basically all that's left of the "family".
posted by glonous keming at 9:16 PM on June 16, 2021 [10 favorites]


For a while, when I was a new adult learning to set boundaries with my folks, I only told them about outings and events after they were over. I wouldn't say, "Saturday I'm going shopping with friends in (big city)". I'd wait until the next chat afterwards, and mention, "oh, friend and I went to (big city) last weekend, did some shopping, had a nice lunch out. How was your weekend?"

They still appreciate a text when I get home after visiting them, or maybe after a big trip away, but I don't check in after the smaller outings, even if they know about the activity in advance.

Does your dad expect to be kept informed of your whole upcoming schedule?
posted by dorey_oh at 9:20 PM on June 16, 2021 [45 favorites]


I think this is somewhat reasonable. If you had a roommate, or someone else who would immediately be aware if you didn't arrive home from a trip, he might be less anxious.

That said, your question seems to hint that, perhaps, you feel that your dad is overall too anxious/overprotective (apologies if I am way off here). Is this true? Has he always been this way, or did something change at some point?

I wonder why you are telling your father about every single trip you go on - would it be feasible/reasonable to pull back on this?
posted by aquamvidam at 9:20 PM on June 16, 2021 [6 favorites]


Best answer: As a data point, I'm also 37 and I don't do this. I talk to my parents 2-3 sometimes 4 times a month or so and they still serve as emotional support if I'm having a hard time or something but I don't usually appraise them of my day-to-day activities. I used to travel internationally a fair bit and in that case I'd usually send them a message when I arrived wherever I was heading or got home - and might do something similar on longer-term trips around the States - but not just a day trip.

People have different relationships with their families though.
posted by knownfossils at 9:31 PM on June 16, 2021 [3 favorites]


The only way I have managed to avoid this is to not tell my mother and sister that I’m leaving the house in the first place.

I am the youngest child of three; my older brother died in infancy and my older sister (aka second mother) is the model daughter to a degree I still struggle to comprehend, so I never really stood a chance of not being a bit smothered. So adjust your grain of salt accordingly.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:38 PM on June 16, 2021 [7 favorites]


This wouldn't be normal for me but everyone and their families are different.

I live with my mom now but from the ages 18-30 I lived in a different city, province, or country for most of the time. Back then I wouldn't even think to mention I was going on a day trip let alone expect to check in to say I was OK. Actually, I'm pretty sure I took trips to developing nations with little mention ahead of time (like me saying "Oh, I'm planning on going to Cambodia to check out Angkor Wat, and maybe Vietnam if I get the time, during my summer break" without actually saying when my summer break is or how long I'd be going for) and possibly not even sending emails while I was there. I did send photo albums of the sights afterwards though.

I'm a guy though. If I was a woman I could see my parents being a bit more worried about me. Of course they individually moved across the world while they were in their 20s and weren't letting their families know about day trips so maybe it wouldn't have made a difference in my case.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 9:48 PM on June 16, 2021


I'm also an only child, but my mother is as far as a parent can be from overbearing (maybe to a fault?) and she fared pretty well when I was twenty and lived without telephone or often electricity for the better part of a year in rural South Asia, but for whatever reason she wants me to share my GPS location with her for all six hours of the drive back home after visiting her. I have no idea what it's like to have been a single mom with one child, but I don't think twice about sharing my GPS location three times a year if it makes her feel better!

If it's permission you need to say to your dad 'please don't stay up waiting for me to text you that I got back okay, I'll text/call you tomorrow, love you!', you certainly have mine. As an anxious person, I feel like if I was so anxious that I couldn't handle that small request from my child, I'd probably be a wreck in the rest of my life, but I know everyone's different!
posted by vocativecase at 9:50 PM on June 16, 2021 [2 favorites]


In general, if I'm leaving for a night or more, or going farther in a day-trip than the nearest metro region, I let someone know. When I was still in contact with them, that was my parents.

Now that my kids are all adults, it generally means I'll let my ex-husband know, and maybe the kids that don't live with me, if I'm going to be more than a couple hour drive away - especially since it's pretty rare that I go that far.

And now I live in the metro region, along with my two youngest - ages 19 and 21 - and I made a deal with them when we moved here. That if they shared their location on google maps with me, I'd do the same. Seemed fair. And I mostly follow that rule, only turning it off for very short periods of time when I'd prefer location privacy, but I'll still answer messages. It makes all three of us feel a little safer in an area where we know very few people, instead of half the town. (It also means I get hassled to hurry up when I stop at the craft store in addition to the grocery, but ymmv.)
posted by stormyteal at 9:52 PM on June 16, 2021 [2 favorites]


I'm in my late 40s. I have traveled quite a bit at different points in life, notably especially when I lived with my mom as a teen and flew alone to visit my dad. I have also lived overseas a few times. My mom keeps up with flight trackers. I don't think I had to call her to check in even when I was a teen (and this was before cell phones, of course). I might be wrong on that, as I do remember doing a few "I'm here calls." But this isn't a regular feature of life. My mom grew up with a mother who always worried, and it drove her bonkers, so she was committed to not doing the same (my grandmother would get quite anxious about things like this).

My mom says, "I'll hear about it on the news if your plane crashes," and she's right! And, yeah, she follows the flight trackers when she has my flight info.

My dad definitely doesn't do this. Also, my mom and dad don't always know exactly when I'm traveling, and certainly not for day trips. But, even if they did know, they would never expect this kind of communication from me.

How often are you in communication with your dad? What would it look like to share less with him?
posted by bluedaisy at 10:01 PM on June 16, 2021 [1 favorite]


It must be frustrating for you to have to worry about that irritated phone call every time you get back later than expected. When I was your age, my mom absolutely required me to tell her in advance about trips and call her after. The only way I could avoid it was by going “gray rock,” which was something our relationship needed anyway.
So if you’re wondering whether your dad’s behavior is normal, I’m going to say that you are likely right that it stems from anxiety, and is thus not normal.
posted by Knowyournuts at 10:22 PM on June 16, 2021 [6 favorites]


Start slow. Pick one trip that you just don't tell your dad about beforehand. Revel in your sense of personal autonomy as you come home whenever you happen to come home and do whatever the fuck you like once you're there!

You can tell him all about the trip after you're back. If you want. Or just not tell him. (If he complains: "Yeah, wasn't sure when I'd be back, didn't want you to worry." And then breeze right past the guilt tripping. What's he going to do, ground you?)

You did that one thing.

If you enjoyed yourself, do it again! Slowly make it your M.O. to go on trips and tell him post fact (or not at all). Put dad on an information diet. He's using the information to force you to cater to his anxieties. You don't have to do that.
posted by Omnomnom at 11:04 PM on June 16, 2021 [33 favorites]


My family is probably at the other extreme from your family. According to them, the world is an exciting place of possibilities ready for me to explore. They sent me off travelling interstate and overseas with minimal supervision when I was still underage. I happily trained all over Western Europe without them knowing where I was. I called home once a month - phone calls were expensive.

I now live in a different state to my parents, and the only notification I give them like this is I will let them know when I get home from visiting them. I was taught to do this (by them) after visits as a courtesy ("Thanks for the lovely trip, home safe"), and generally do the same when leaving anyone for a long distance trip. If I forget my mum might text and ask me how the flight was. If she does check the news for plane crashes, she never lets on. My family would never inconvenience me in order to feel less anxious about my whereabouts.

If I'm travelling alone overseas (or somewhere really odd), I like to know someone knows where I am. Sort of like you tell someone if you're going hiking alone. I'll generally send my family a copy of my travel planning spreadsheet with dates/flights/prebooked accommodation, because just in case something hideous happens, and I need to be contacted/bailed out of jail. They do the same for us kids. But for day trips in civilisation etc, never. They don't need to know, they can't help me anyway, and I'm a grown up who can look after herself (mostly).
posted by kjs4 at 11:21 PM on June 16, 2021 [1 favorite]


Occasionally I will tell my mother that I'm going on some kind of trip and she will text me to see if I've gotten there/home safely. If I have visited her, she likes me to text to say I've gotten home. I don't really mention many trips, particularly not day trips and it would never occur to me to update her on my movements. I currently live with my husband and do let him know where I'm going to be and when I'm coming back, but when I lived on my own I used to just do what I liked without checking in with anyone.

Which is to say, you're allowed to stop doing this if you want to. In practice though I think the only way of doing so is to stop telling your dad about day, weekend and other trips until you get home. And maybe not even then.
posted by plonkee at 11:59 PM on June 16, 2021


What's not common in fully adult children is letting their parents know in advance every time they're about to go on a day or weekend trip. Seems to me that this is a thing you could change in order to break this pattern.
posted by flabdablet at 12:09 AM on June 17, 2021 [22 favorites]


The general rule for my folks was always just to let each other know about anything out of state, sending an email upon return. When I was partnered, this eased even more.

During covid and while I've been dealing with long-term medical stuff, my widowed mom and I have adopted a kind of daily ping. One heart emoji in each direction, sent asynchronously at any time during the evening. It's not as intensive as a phone call -- just a cheerful hey. Sometimes there's a note or dog photo as well but mostly the text window is just days of heart volleying. So we're connected but we have our privacy and autonomy, which we both value. It's nice.

Would a similar system work for your dad, and by doing so take your private travel details out of the equation?
posted by mochapickle at 12:38 AM on June 17, 2021 [5 favorites]


I'm an only child. Like others are suggesting, I don't tell my parents about my travel plans beforehand, but if they do happen to know (say, I'm traveling back from visiting them) I do let them know with a quick text that I got back safe. I don't see this as odd? It's a small thing to do, it puts their mind at ease, and they generally are not anxious or overbearing. If this is the only way he's anxious, I'd let it slide. If it's part of a larger pattern, then that's a bigger conversation to be had.
posted by coffeecat at 12:59 AM on June 17, 2021 [3 favorites]


43, and I did this with my parents until my mom passed away and we text my in-laws when we get home from leaving their house or long vacations. I talked to my parents almost daily when not on vacation anyway, though. My in laws are in their mid 70s and they text us when they get home from hour house (about 90 minute away for reference) and also when they are stopping overnight on the way to/from their Florida home. With my in laws it is usually texts.

My spouse and I also let each other know when we have arrived places that are long drives.


I did not do this when I was in college. I avoided it by what some others said above - telling them about things after the fact, making sure I called them regularly on my own time so they weren’t calling looking for me.
posted by dpx.mfx at 1:14 AM on June 17, 2021


I think the bigger question is: Do you let your parents know every time you go on a day trip?
posted by lulu68 at 2:21 AM on June 17, 2021 [3 favorites]


Best answer: To everyone saying "don't tell them beforehand": This will not work with this type of parent. You have to tell them about trips beforehand because otherwise they will call and call and call while you are on the trip and unable to take the phone call, and they will be getting progressively more and more anxious/worried because you are unavailable and they do not know why. They will leave 30 million messages about how worried they are and you must be dead and this is far worse than just letting them know beforehand that you will be unavailable. My parents are the same and I don't think this is normal or healthy. It's also difficult to say how much of it is controlling behavior (which you can probably set some boundaries around) and how much is abnormal anxiety (which is their problem but needs to be managed differently I suppose).
posted by Polychrome at 3:05 AM on June 17, 2021 [13 favorites]


I’ve spent most of my adult life far from my parents and I don’t check in with them after day trips unless it was something unusual, but I check in after traveling and I check in with someone local as well. This saved my life once.
posted by betweenthebars at 3:23 AM on June 17, 2021 [1 favorite]


Whenever I go on a day, weekend or other trip

How does your father know you're going on these trips? Is it because you tell him? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the outcome to change is foolish. Stop telling him beforehand, share after.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:43 AM on June 17, 2021 [1 favorite]


Best answer:

To everyone saying "don't tell them beforehand": This will not work with this type of parent. You have to tell them about trips beforehand because otherwise they will call and call and call while you are on the trip and unable to take the phone call, and they will be getting progressively more and more anxious/worried because you are unavailable and they do not know why. 


Oh, that's a good point. My parents used to get anxious (I suppose they still do). I stopped picking up the phone in annoyance at always being at their beck and call. I'd wait anything between half a day and a full day to answer.

Did they compaim? Oh sure! There was a constant wailing and gnashing of teeth about how worried they'd been and how could they know nothing had happened to me and hadn't I SEEN their calls? And my superpower was being completely, unapologetically space cadet about it. "Oh, you called? Huh, I guess I missed that. I don't look at my phone that often at the moment, taking a phone break."
"But we were worried! We called five times!"
"huh."

They really did get used to waiting a day before freaking out. Took a while, totally worth it.
posted by Omnomnom at 3:47 AM on June 17, 2021 [21 favorites]


I have gone on overseas trips without telling people. A lot of my trips are road trips where I may have made a reservation for the first couple of nights and the last and make it up as I go along in between. Nobody hassles me about letting them know where I am or what I’m doing.

I used to work for somebody in another location who knew I’d be driving 4.5 hrs when I left work, after a 60-80 hr week. She requested I let her know I got home safely because she knew I’d be tired and she also had a 2+ hr trip to get home. I had no misgivings sending her a text when I got home.

My aunt has recently requested I let her know my progress and safe arrival when I travel to visit her. That’s because the door to door trip is over 750 miles and she can’t conceive driving that in a day. This is recent but I used to fly to see her, driving is a pandemic response. I don’t always answer when she gets in touch en route but always let her know when I get home. She’s ok with that.
posted by koahiatamadl at 4:06 AM on June 17, 2021


Would Find My Friends be an acceptable substitute to staying up for hours and making calls? You could even set up his phone to notify him when you got home automatically
posted by tillsbury at 4:11 AM on June 17, 2021


Best answer: My mom is like this. At one point, after I'd fired a patient who used the n-word, she wanted me to text her every day when I got home so she knew I hadn't been shot in the parking lot. (Because that really helped me manage my own fears after being trapped in a very small room unable to escape from a racist tirade.) I refused, and after months of guilt trips, she gave up. But it took months.

I do text her when I'm home from an overnight-or-longer trip, though. I've never told her about day trips, or my activities every day on a trip.

(On preview: Find My Friends can really backfire. My parents tried that on an overseas work trip that my dad had several years ago, and the location thing got stuck attached to a warehouse instead of the hotel [he'd forgotten to pack a plug converter, phone battery died], and my mom was REALLY freaking out when she couldn't reach him. This is the sort of situation where technology -- GPS, flight trackers, even the existence of free nationwide calling and texting -- makes things worse instead of better.)
posted by basalganglia at 4:30 AM on June 17, 2021 [2 favorites]


Once I was no longer living with my parents it would never have occurred to me to notify them when I was going on a day or weekend trip. We had a good relationship but we weren't in the habit of talking on the phone every day or even every few days, so they weren't aware of my daily activities. Their relationship with their own parents was similar. They certainly didn't contact their parents (who lived in a different state) to let them know what they were going to be doing each day. My sister and I live in the same town now and we don't routinely tell each other about our day-to-day plans. It would not be unusual for one of us to go away for a few days without having told the other about it ahead of time.
posted by Redstart at 5:00 AM on June 17, 2021 [3 favorites]


I text my husband when I arrive at work every day, because he worries I'll be hit by a car on my bike. If you can get him to accept a text message, rather than a call, sounds like that would be a reasonable compromise that wouldn't require much from you. I do also call or email my parents to let them know I've arrived/ I'm home safe after longer trips, but not day ones.
posted by stillnocturnal at 5:01 AM on June 17, 2021 [1 favorite]


And I'll add to my comment above that if my parents did happen to know I was going to be out for the day or weekend they would never have expected me to let them know I had made it back safely.
posted by Redstart at 5:07 AM on June 17, 2021


I’m 33 and have learned a lot about my own anxiety in the last 2 years. In learning about my own I’ve learned a ton about my mom’s unacknowledged anxiety. She sometimes requests similar things like texting when I arrive somewhere, or even trying to give me safety advice on my own city (that she has never lived in and only visited a handful of times).

I don’t think it really matters if this is a typical request or not (you can see a fair range of answers above) but rather if you are comfortable with this boundary. It sounds like it’s been chafing for you, and even if it might be “helping” your parent it’s coming at a cost. It’s ok to say no and make them deal with their own anxiety
posted by raccoon409 at 5:19 AM on June 17, 2021 [2 favorites]


If you were going hiking or boating alone, where best practice is to tell someone your plans and check in afterwards... Would you want to tell your parents that, or is your first reaction that that would be worse? With my parents, checking in about travel is very much about their anxiety. They get mad at me if something doesn't go how they imagine it should, so it's not a safety net for me. I try to give them minimal information.

I do give them a heads-up when I leave to visit them, and when I get home from visiting them.
posted by mersen at 5:40 AM on June 17, 2021 [1 favorite]


My dad and MIL would not generally be aware of any day trips we take or even a weekend trip, if it didn't involve them. That's the kind of thing we might mention long afterwards when catching up on the phone or something. "Oh, we went to St Louis last weekend to visit the zoo!" However, when we travel to or from something that involved them, like a trip to their house or a meetup with them somewhere, they will ask us to please let them know we made it home. We don't always remember, and they will text to ask if we got back ok.

My MIL lets us know most of her travel plans I think, and she will text us to let us know she got back ok. My dad, on the other hand, I never find out what he's been doing until the next catch-up phone call.

From the mom side, I stay in casual contact with my daughter on an every couple days or so basis, so I usually know when she's doing a day trip. She knows I worry so she always lets me know she got there ok, and when she gets back. If she didn't do that I might text at some point to see how things were going. It would be really unusual for her to not text me back within the hour or perhaps a few hours if her phone was dead. If I hadn't heard back by then I don't think I'd wait up for hours or anything, but I'd definitely be a bit worried because it isn't like her to ignore a text from me.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 6:20 AM on June 17, 2021


I am 36 and my Mom lost a sibling in a car accident as a child. After I visit her, or if I go out of town on a longer trip, anything more than a day or two, I text her to let her know I'm home safe. I don't mention every day trip.
With my Mom, I know that she's not trying to micromanage me, she just worries because of past trauma and I don't want her to worry.
posted by ceramicblue at 6:29 AM on June 17, 2021 [4 favorites]


When I left for college (dark ages, pre-cell phone), I started communicating with my parents once a week or less. I was already on that frequency as a teen with one of my parents (divorced) and the other I don't remember as being too concerned (as in I can't even remember ever saying "I'll be home for dinner" when I went out with friends).

I'm a bit older than you and I've travelled to foreign countries many times and only told them when it came up in conversation weeks or months later.

But the tradition in my family, including how each of my parents interacted with their families, is that aside from occasional casual conversations here and there, you only contact people if you have a reason to. To the point where if I hear from my sister, I assume there is something wrong that she needs help with.
posted by chiefthe at 6:32 AM on June 17, 2021


So interesting to see the variety! I am in my mid-30s and would never check in with my mom after a quick trip. She sometimes knows about the trip ahead of time, sometimes doesn't -- I don't feel the need to withhold that information from her deliberately, because she doesn't "abuse" that knowledge by calling relentlessly or expecting regular updates en route. Sometimes she'll text and say "Hope you're enjoying [trip]!" and I'll either respond immediately or not, but she doesn't freak out either way. I certainly do not text her when I arrive home. But she is not starting from a place of high anxiety, so her assumptions are "The trip went fine" and "If Bebo doesn't text me, it's because she's busy" rather than "DISASTER! DANGER!". If she were more overbearing I would put her on an information diet because I resent that level of overprotectiveness (and I really AM too busy for it, and I don't think it's healthy to feed into that anxiety).
posted by Bebo at 6:36 AM on June 17, 2021


My spouse and I let my parents or inlaws know we are travelling when we head into the backcountry for hiking/camping/canoeing in case of emergency. When we visit them, we also let them know we are home ok. Besides that, my parents/inlaws generally find out about travel afterwards and we don't check in with them unless there is a need (see above). It may come up in casual conservation, but there's no expectation that we check in like your father wants from you. I should mention, we live 3 hours away from our families so we don't see them generally unless they or we travel. I do also let my inlaws know when we travel out of province/country with details of when/where as they are our emergency contacts for medical things if my spouse and I are travelling together. If I'm travelling alone (ie for work) the only person I check in with is my spouse.

In terms of boundary setting, is there an a level of check in that you could propose to your dad that could work as a compromise? Like maybe a text when you arrive? Or an email? If there situations where someone may need to know where you are in case of emergency (international travel, backcountry travel etc.), would your dad be your emergency contact anyways? Or would someone else fill that role for you? If his request for a check in is more for him than you, I would set boundaries differently than if he does in fact perform an emergency contact type role for you. If he is capable of texting or email, I'd consider setting a boundary around asynchronous check-ins (ie, you text him when you land instead of having to wait up). If he's not, is there someone that you could communicate with via text who could call him to let him know you are ok? For example, my inlaws live with my grandpa in law who gets nervous/confused when they travel. They will text my SIL to let her know when they arrive, and she calls him to let him know. Bit more work on their end but seems to work for their situation as they are his caregivers.
posted by snowysoul at 6:36 AM on June 17, 2021


All families are different, and MetaFilter families (and attitudes toward families) are different. Late-40s here, older of two kids, daughter. I don't tell my mom about day trips anymore, but I do tell her about multi-day travel trips. And I used to call her when we arrived home safely and HATED it. I have 'downgraded' that contact to sending a quick text when the plane lands and she's fine with it.

But my Mom isn't intrusive or stalky or possessive, just a worrier and it takes a few seconds for me to do it. So from someone with a worried parent too, I suggest not telling them about day trips until after you're home, and changing that phone call to a text/a message through whatsapp or whatever social media your Dad has (if he does) because for us it was a win/win. And be firm with that, "I'll text you when I get home. No, I'm not calling. Text."
posted by kimberussell at 6:38 AM on June 17, 2021


Late 40s, only child and yeah I still do this. But not for day trips. For weekend or longer, I do. But now it's a text and they don't stay awake waiting. They honestly do it for me too - when they fly somewhere, they may text "we're here" and that's it. I also have a kid now so they have TWO whole people they can worry about (well and my partner, so 3). But thankfully they're not terribly overbearing about it.

Meanwhile my partner does not do this with her parents and they don't do it back with her. So all families are different.
posted by jdl at 6:40 AM on June 17, 2021


Early 40s, and yeah I am just not in the habit of telling my parents about day/weekend trips. I don't withhold the information, exactly, just unless they actively express curiosity or it has an impact on something they actually need to know, I probably won't mention it. Like, if my dad said, "Hey, do you want to go for a hike on Sunday?" I would say, "Oh that sounds great but I'll actually be in New York." (I do not live in New York.)

On the other hand if my dad texted me while I was in New York, like, "Are you going to be able to make it to the Big Family Cookout on July 4th?" I would not necessarily mention where I was at the time I responded to his message - again, not because I'm concealing it, just... we don't keep each other posted about our movements minute to minute and I would probably only mention where I was if it were of particular interest to him.
posted by mskyle at 7:10 AM on June 17, 2021


I'm 58 and not an only child. Not for daytrips, but If I take a vacation, my mom asks me to call when I am back, especially if I'm going abroad. If I visit my parents, my mother wants to know when I am back home safely, and will stay up until I call if it is late. Actually she does this if I go away for the weekend too. My mother is a worrier! I can't remember if it bothered me to do this when I was younger. It doesn't now in any case.
posted by pangolin party at 7:10 AM on June 17, 2021


I am 41. When I visit my parents 3 hours away, I always call to let them know I got home safe (they don't text). It takes literally 1 minute and makes them feel good.

They don't know about like my day trips or whatever until after the fact if I tell them about it.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 7:17 AM on June 17, 2021


My mother gets a bit anxious with international travel but is good at trying not to expect too much. I do check in with her on long (week plus) trips.

For smaller trips, she may not know of it in advance, which is what I would probably recommend to you - don’t keep your dad appraised of every trip before it happens.

I think it also helps, for smaller trips at least, that she knows that I check in with the friends I’ve been with - and I do! I often visit friends in a nearby city for weekends and vice versa. Whenever one of us is driving home, especially alone (we all live alone but sometime two of us will travel to the other city together), we text the person whose house we left that we made it home. Sometimes we also share our location on the way home. If you do something like this, you could let you dad know, and that might make it easier for you to draw those boundaries with him.
posted by sillysally at 7:53 AM on June 17, 2021 [1 favorite]


Like above, I:
a) don't tell my family what I'm doing until it's done
b) just ignore those requests generally, and ignore any childish behavior when I ignore the requests

You are an adult. You do what you want. They can adapt.
posted by greta simone at 7:54 AM on June 17, 2021 [4 favorites]


You have to tell them about trips beforehand because otherwise they will call and call and call while you are on the trip and unable to take the phone call

Why would you be unable to get a phone call on a day trip?

The idea that Something Bad is somehow more likely to happen to you while traveling than in your everyday life is ridiculous. All of this anxiety around traveling is just stupid.

I have a very anxious mom and I've always resented her anxiety around my activities and pushed back hard on having to let her know where I am or what I'm doing all the time. My sister lives alone in another state and she's probably much more likely to, I dunno, fall down the stairs in her apartment building than to suffer a great tragedy when she goes out of town for a few days.

I live in the same city as my mom and keep her in an information diet a lot of them time, so this doesn't come up as much as when I was younger and travelling or gallivanting about. She did get really anxious when my husband and I went to Europe for 2 weeks in 2019. We didn't have service there to receive phone calls but I told her I would post on Facebook using wifi. I posted a photo every day or so, which worked.

I do appreciate that my mom (77 yrs old) will text and use social media and hates talking on the phone. Would your dad accept a text rather than a call, or a social media post ("Just got home from Other Town - had a fun day!") If he would, you can do those at any point and don't have to wait for time zone differences.
posted by See you tomorrow, saguaro at 8:07 AM on June 17, 2021 [3 favorites]


To everyone saying "don't tell them beforehand": This will not work with this type of parent. You have to tell them about trips beforehand because otherwise they will call and call and call while you are on the trip and unable to take the phone call, and they will be getting progressively more and more anxious/worried because you are unavailable and they do not know why

I missed this. If this is the case with OP, then yes I would definitely draw boundaries. At this point you are just feeding their anxiety. You are a grown independent adult and you dad doesn’t need this much access to you. On the other hand, if your dad just likes this one check in after travel, I think you could go either way. You are definitely free to set boundaries and not check in. But it’s also an easy thing to do and not out of the normal, so it’s not inherently bad if you decide to check in. And if you decide to keep checking in, there are some great suggestions above on how you can even set boundaries within that (ex text, don’t call)
posted by sillysally at 8:08 AM on June 17, 2021 [2 favorites]


If you want to "automate" this, I suppose you can give your parent access to your Ring door cam and notification system. Read only, so they can't answer the door for you, but at least they know who's at the door, and if it's your face, at least they know you've arrived home.

Whether that violates your privacy or not... That's up to you.
posted by kschang at 8:42 AM on June 17, 2021


Best answer: becoming irritated if I’m delayed, or if I can’t give an exact arrival time
This is the crux of the problem to me. If he gets irritated with you when a normal thing like a travel delay happens, or when you cant give him a specific time when your own activity (that he has nothing to do with) will be over, that is veering out of "Knowing You're Okay" and into "Controlling You" territory.

If he is not irritated with you but just expresses irritation to you, he should maybe get help with acceptance of an imperfect world. It is not your job to soothe this type of anxiety.
posted by soelo at 8:49 AM on June 17, 2021 [11 favorites]


I'm 30 years old. Whenever I travel, I let my parents know when I'm about to leave, and when I've reached, including trips that don't involve visiting them. If my travel is delayed I let them know, and if I am traveling with friends, I let them know also. My parents understand that if there is an issue with my flight, I might arrive at my destination later, or that if I am traveling with friends, I might be less prompt in updating them. None of this is a big deal because it takes me a couple of seconds to send a text. Most of my travel is flying, in which case I have a lot of down time and welcome the opportunity to talk to my parents.

It sounds like there is something different in the expectations your father has with you, to make your experience anxiety-inducing. Before you can set boundaries, you probably should figure out what this is first.
posted by chernoffhoeffding at 8:58 AM on June 17, 2021


You have to tell them about trips beforehand because otherwise they will call and call and call while you are on the trip and unable to take the phone call, and they will be getting progressively more and more anxious/worried because you are unavailable and they do not know why

OP is around the point of being old enough to have adult children of their own in many cultures. They have to decide whether they want to live the rest of their parents' lives in an unreasonable way or to start defining boundaries, even if it's late in the game. Not being available every day, even if one is just lounging around at home, is a good starting point.

Obviously families and cultures are different (and I'm an intimidating looking male in fairly safe parts of the US so my parents had less to worry about) but I was travelling several times a week for work at 21 and things like college road trips were things that I might discuss with my parents after the fact as something interesting that happened but not something I'd lay out the details of ahead of time.
posted by Candleman at 9:00 AM on June 17, 2021


I'm 40 and live alone. I do this with my mom because we text/chat just about every day about what we're up to so she always knows about my upcoming outings or trips just from our casual conversations. I didn't think about it until now but she does often text to make sure I got home safely since no one else is there to check up on me at either end of a trip. That part is fine and an appropriate courtesy in my opinion (I definitely wouldn't do calls, nor would I accept a call from her to confirm that fact). What wouldn't be fine is "waiting up until I do so despite a 5-hour time difference, and becoming irritated if I’m delayed, or if I can’t give an exact arrival time," nor would it be okay if it was coming from a place of extreme anxiety that was landing on me to manage from afar.

Other people have given good advice on how to set a boundary (which definitely sounds like it needs to be set here). I don't know if this would backfire or not with your father, but another idea is that I've given my family my flight numbers before I leave so they can track if a plane is delayed or not without involving me directly.
posted by anderjen at 10:54 AM on June 17, 2021


When we would visit family, I'd text them when I arrived home. If we're going on a regular vacation (aka not to family), we might send out a big text to our family saying we're home. But those are our boundaries which are different than yours.
posted by heathrowga at 11:06 AM on June 17, 2021


My ex's mom had a deep anxiety about us traveling (and a lot of other things, but especially this) and would also stay up late worrying and eventually call us freaking out if she knew we were traveling and we didn't let her know when we got to our destination and then again back home safely.

We were adults and lived on the other side of the country from her while this was happening. Neither I nor any of our friends (all Americans) considered this normal, and we did eventually just gradually stop telling her we were traveling unless it was to see her or it was an annual trip she already knew about.

It's worth considering whether your father's requirement comes from anxiety or the desire to control. Our response to my ex's mom was gentler and kinder than it would have been if she'd been clearly doing it because she felt entitled to that level of information and control just because she was a parent.

I will say though, that now that I live alone, I do always make sure someone knows I'm traveling, has my itinerary, and knows when I've arrived safely. This is very common in my extended friends group. But it's someone of my choosing, and it's a nice supportive and voluntary thing close friends do for each other.
posted by rhiannonstone at 12:49 PM on June 17, 2021 [3 favorites]


I am in my early 30s and my parents generally do not know when I take trips. Sometimes they happen to get mentioned if we talk that week, but in generally it's not something we keep each other up to date on (their trips or mine). The exception being long international trips. If I am going to be out of service for more than 1 night (backpacking) I do tell them, after an experience where I really scared my mom because I was off grid for 4 days and they didn't know in advance, and she happened to try to reach me on day 2 and spent 48 hours pretty worried.
posted by amaire at 1:48 PM on June 17, 2021


I am also your age. I am closer with my parents than most people in the US where I live again; I speak to them sometimes multiple times a day by phone or email and visit at least once a week. We lived far away until recently, and this includes different continents or different cities. We talk a lot about my cats, my job, politics, pop culture, my friends, and my dates when I feel like it. Fortunately, there's no pressure for me to share anything. Additionally, there are no expectations on either side of informing each other of our plans and outings -- unless they are with each other, of course.

You can totally set whatever boundaries you want -- or keep up with the status quo if you're comfortable, although it sounds like you're not. You can say "Dad, you know I'll always call/text/email with you regularly because I enjoy your company! But I no longer want to send you my itinerary or agenda every day. You are always welcome to check in and I will respond as soon as I can." He can and will deal. It sounds like he may also worry you don't have a lot of close friends in your immediate vicinity: perhaps also telling him that you have neighbors/friends/colleagues/etc. who check in on you might offer some additional reassurance. Parents want the best for their kids but, once they turn 18 and/or move out, such checking is well-intentioned anxious behavior that's an attempt at maintaining an illusion of control over their now-adult/former baby's well-being.
posted by smorgasbord at 9:15 PM on June 17, 2021


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