What to Do When Your Parents Are Way Too Involved in Your Social Life

The dynamic between you and your parents can really evolve when you start college. Sometimes, the new distance makes convos with them sweeter and makes you more excited to see them. On the other hand, college can cause your parents to worry- suddenly, they’ll want to be involved in every aspect of your new, independent life. 

That can include your social life: Do your parents want to know a little too much about your friends? It’s pretty common to have parents who are overly involved, but it can be tough to combat since you don’t want to hurt your parents’ feelings. Thankfully, there are ways to keep your parents at a healthy distance away from your personal life. Read on for some advice on what to do when your parents are too involved in your social life.  

If they ask too much about your social life, let them know your boundaries

Are they asking about that new friend you made in chem class, every single day? Or prying for details on the socials you’ve had with your sorority? If you have a parent who’s constantly asking about your friends and SO all the time, it’s time you confront them about the issue. Of course, how you do that depends on what your parents’ thoughts are on your social life. If they’re innocently asking about your friends all the time and they sound genuinely (but overly) interested in what you’re up to with them, then let them know they’re crossing their boundaries. In this case, you can tell them how much it means to you that they want to hear about the fun you’re having with your friends; not all parents care so much to hear about things other than schoolwork! 

Briefly mentioning your friends to your parents already lets them know you are open to sharing a bit of your social life with them. Jessica Chevallier, a junior at the University of Western Brittany, says she always gives a little update whenever she talks with her parents. "My parents get worried at first until they get to see my friends or talk to them a little, but of course meeting all my friends isn't an option. So I just talk about people in my life daily, mention a friend once or twice, so then my parents are like "oh yeah, you've mentioned them before" and they're not completely new to them," Jessica says. Sometimes just a small tidbit about the brunch you went to with your new buddy is all they need to know. However, remind your parents that you’re still a growing adult with your own personal life. Be honest about what you do and don’t want to share and explain why. Sometimes you just need to tell them where the limit is, and they can respect that once they recognize it.

If they’re controlling, be (respectfully) firm with them

Are your parents keeping you from going out like you’re still 12 years old? If you live with your parents through college, this can be especially challenging. Getting your parents to realize you have a social life outside their sphere of knowledge is difficult when you’re all under the same roof. Even if you are away from your parents, they can still call and pester you about who you hang out with and when and where and why.

If they’re controlling your social life, you have to lay down the line with them. Sit down with them or call them and let them know you want to have a serious talk. Ask them if they really understand that you’re an adult now and let them know how this controlling behavior makes you feel.

Not letting you navigate your social life on your own can be detrimental to your social health as an adult going into the real world. Part of being an adult is independence from your parents. You don’t have to get mad at your parents but respectfully express your thoughts. If their behavior hurts you emotionally, they’ll want to understand.

If they judge your friends and/or SO, hear them out, then speak your mind

Your parents will always want to look out for you, no matter how old you are. Even though you’re an adult, they can still want a say in who you talk to. As guardians, they can judge your decisions harshly, including the decisions to be friends with and date certain people. You shouldn’t discount all the criticism your parents may have on your social life, because they have experience from their own friendships and can impart some great advice. But make sure they’re advising you, not controlling you.

If your mom says you can’t hang out with one of your friends because she parties often and never studies, at least hear out her explanation as to why you should stay away. Let her know you’ll keep her advice in mind, but that you’re ultimately going to make your own judgment call. Remind your parents you know you were raised to understand what constitutes a healthy friendship. Kelisha Caldwell, a junior at the University of Central Florida, reminds her mother of the wonderful friends she’s made thus far. “My mom loves the best friends I’ve made from middle school all the way to high school. Whenever I make a new friend in college and she gets nervous about them, I remind her of the great friends I made already. I had good judgment about who to stay with and I’ll continue to thanks to how she raised me,” Kelisha says. Finally, let your parents know that you will hang out with who you believe is right for you, but you value their thoughts and will consider them as you build your own social life.

Don’t be afraid of counseling

Sometimes, the tension between you and your parents is more than the both of you can bear. If you’re being controlled to the point where your parents need to know every single detail about who you talk to and where you go, that’s not healthy for anyone involved. Likely, your trust and understanding between one another are fractured in some way, and some counseling can alleviate this pressure. Visit your college’s mental health counselor and let them know your situation. They can either arrange a session for you and your parents or direct you to another provider to get that much-needed mediation.

Socializing is a huge part of the college experience, and you shouldn’t have anything (or anyone) impede your social growth. Joining clubs, making friends, dating, they’re all independent choices you make for yourself, and a parent’s thoughts shouldn’t dictate your entire social life. Be sure to openly and honestly communicate your feelings with your parents so that they won’t misunderstand your intentions. The last thing we want to do is cut our parents out of our lives, but a reasonable set of boundaries is all you need to be sure you can a social life created on your own terms.