Dear Straight Talk: I’m 17. I’ve graduated from high school and will attend community college this fall. I have a boyfriend, but I’m not allowed to hang out at his house because he lives with his dad. My parents say they need to meet his dad first, but they never do. Even then, they say there will be restrictions (even after I turn 18), and I’ll still have to be home by midnight. Are other daughters restricted from male-only homes? And are everyone’s post high school rules this strict? — Kathy, Santa Barbara
Elise, 20, Rexburg, Idaho: My parents were the same way. As long as you’re under their roof, you have to live by their rules.
Brandon, 20, Mapleton, Maine: This was a big problem in high-school and during my first year of college. I was living with my dad and my then-girlfriend was living with hers. Her father wouldn’t allow her in my house, so we had to stay outside the whole time. When I finally moved onto campus, nothing changed. I couldn’t stand it. Our relationship wasn’t strong and I called it off when she wouldn’t move in with me. I doubt your parents will budge, and that’s fair (free things tend to have rules). But if he’s “the one,” don’t let them ruin it. Get part-time jobs and rent your own place near school.
Nicole, 20, Grass Valley: You’re under their roof, so it’s their rules. But spending time with your boyfriend is essential for the relationship. Let your parents know this, arrange for them to meet his father, and work from there.
Katelyn, 17, Huntington Beach: Take action in getting the parents together — but don’t expect a change. They probably think a father will allow something that wouldn’t happen if a mother was around.
You’re not the only one with rules hanging over your head! My parents consider my boyfriend a gentleman, but to go anywhere, we have to be with friends, parents, or be totally available by cell phone. Going out till midnight is absolutely not allowed. I, too, just graduated and these rules will follow me to college.
Taylor, 15, Santa Rosa: Can’t your boyfriend hang out at your house?
Katie, 18, Auburn: It is ridiculous to discriminate against single dads. Would they behave this way for a friendship?
My parents have pretty relaxed rules, but they are based on me always being honest. All parents are different though, and if you’re living there, you have to play by their rules.
Dear Kathy: Their house, their rules, age doesn’t matter. Glad it’s wasn’t me having to say that. However, it is unfair to automatically judge a single-father household as a “mischief manor.” It might be, but some of the most stable-looking two-parent homes are where the action is. Bottom line: you can’t tell a household by its cover. Parents need to get to know each other.
At your age, not being able to go to your boyfriend’s house or stay out till midnight restricts your relationship only as much as your mutual attraction, drive, and imagination let it. Some relationships don’t survive inconveniences (note Brandon’s example). But if you are both in love and dedicated to the relationship, obstacles such as you describe are merely nuisances to be worked around. Couples have been doing so for centuries. — Lauren
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