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Some parents have a hard time letting go

Published May 1, 2014 1:01 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Dear Carolyn • I'm a 21-year-old currently studying abroad at a great distance from my parents. I love my parents very much, and, as a result, we communicate frequently. During college, I would call my mother four or so times a week, but with the time difference, communication here is limited to email. I have to admit, I don't mind the added distance.The problem is the distance has not decreased their protectiveness, which can be somewhat stifling. Recently, I had a cold, and I mentioned it to justify my decision to stay inside and watch movies with a small group of friends. Every email since then has ignored anything else I've wished to say and demanded to know why I haven't seen the doctor, what the doctor has to say, why I'm not taking care of myself. By this point, the cold has passed. But I cannot persuade them that I don't need to be rushed to the hospital. As a result, I'm tempted to stop emailing entirely. This move seems far too passive-aggressive, yet I feel that after months of this, it's long past the time where I should say something. But what? I don't want to lose touch with my parents or disappoint them, and I do genuinely enjoy emailing with them.How do I get them to trust that, as I'm old enough to live abroad for a year, I know what I need, and that if I don't, figuring it out alone might be good for me?

G.

Dear G. • Choosing not to email your parents anymore — or to selectively ignore anything that intrudes on your business — is not "passive-aggressive" (bzzzzzzz) if you send them this first: "Dear Mom and Dad. I am 21. You raised me well (and to excess! JK), and it's time to trust that. I respect your opinion and advice — when I ask for it, not whenever you think I need it. "To that end, I am through discussing my sniffles, justifying my choices for evening entertainment, or otherwise running my daily life by you for approval. "I'm doing this because I love you, and this is what I need to keep our connection strong. "Yours in competence, I swear, "Pookie." Good luck.

Carolyn Hax's column runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.