My parents have always been good parents. They're never too strict, but they're always there to tell me and my older sister what’s right and what’s wrong, and punish us when we need to be punished and all that good parenting stuff. I don't have very many friends, only 3 actually. Not because I’m shy, or because I don't feel like anyone likes me, or anything like that. Just because my school, well, isn't the best, and it's just really hard to find the right crowd to hang out with (I'd rather have a few really amazing friends then have a whole bunch of mostly bad ones.), and because I’m just used to having time to myself, so having a lot of friends might be overwhelming for me. Summer is about to end for me soon, and I really want to make plans to hang out with them sometime, but the problem is that they're all male. My parents don't mind me being friends with guys at all, but they don't like the idea of me being at their houses (even with their parents watching us), or them being at our house. I think it may be that they caught my older sister having a boyfriend when she was in 6th grade, or that my mom chose to get married to her ex husband at only 16 (she lived in Puerto Rico at the time, and its legal there). I’ve never really shown any interest, and I don't have any interest on dating anytime soon. I'm staying clear of that until I feel that I’m ready. A few months ago, I found that I was pansexual (I knew I didn't really care about anyone's gender since third grade, but I didn't know the right word) I told my mom and she said "okay" in a very sarcastic voice, and my dad did the same, so I guess they don't believe me? Its better than them not accepting it, but still.. It really upsets me that they don't trust me to not do anything bad with my friends, and that they don't think that I’m 'really' pansexual. How do I get my parents to trust me enough to hang out with my friends??
Anonymous (age 13)
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Dear Little Furiend,
Oh, yes, parents can be frustrating, can’t they? Sounds a bit like “Do what we say, not what we did when we were your age, no?” You sound like a wise young ‘un to Papabear, though. You realize the value of a few good friendships over a large clique of peers, and you are already mature enough to know that time alone can be valuable, and you seem at peace with yourself, and yet only thirteen!
I’d say you are quite remarkable.
Not to get you too big for your britches (because teens often believe themselves smarter than their parents), but it is possible at times for younger generations to achieve more wisdom than their elders. Keeping in mind that your parents love you and only want what’s best for you, it is time for you to exercise a little patience.
While you sound wise, you are still inexperienced. It may be that, while you are smart enough not to do anything stupid, you might also be a bit too trusting of others. The group of boys you want to hang out with are, well, young guys, and sometimes even good people get into a kind of group think (mob mentality) that could put you at risk. I don’t know these fellows you wish to hang out with, but I do agree with your parents that hanging out with them by yourself could actually be risky.
You are wise about yourself; now the harder lesson is to be wise about others. Sad as it is to say, other people usually don’t have your best interests in mind; they are interested in themselves. That’s not true of all people, of course, but it is true of enough people to make life risky if you are too trusting (I’ve been burned by people I thought were friends on several occasions and it has cost me a lot of grief).
I believe, though, that your parents are going a leeeetle bit overboard by not allowing you to, say, have a party at your house while they are there. It seems that an adult-supervised birthday or other such party would be completely fine. What happens when you have a birthday? Are you allowed to have guests? Try this: ask your parents if you can have a party, invite those three close friends of yours and just a couple of the other guys. Mix it up a little. Over time, try to slowly increase your parents’ comfort zone by having more gatherings and continue to mix up the guest list, letting your parents get to know these other people so they are more comfortable with them.
As for announcing you are pansexual, well, that might have been a bit much for them to hear when you are just thirteen. They weren’t ready for it. For now, don’t trouble them with that. Continue to learn about yourself through reading and, yes, even some meditation. It is too early for you to have an active sex life, so really you don’t need to announce this to the world, yet. You might even discover, through time, that your ideas about sex change. Now, if by pansexual you mean that when it comes to intimate relationships you are not talking about sex but simply very close bonds and it doesn’t matter if that bond is with a boy or a girl, then that is something you can explore, too, without having to feel obligated to put it in your parents’ faces just yet. Obviously, when it comes to sex and intimacy, they are quite conservative. Be patient with them.
And we are back to patience. One of the most valuable lessons you will learn in life is the value of patience. They say “Patience is a virtue,” but that is a saying that really makes things too neat and pat. Patience is perhaps the most difficult, arduous skill you will ever learn. And it is even more difficult at your age when you are active and want to do do do things. But I do urge you to learn it. You are going to spend the next few years in your parents’ home, under their rules and restrictions (and it is good you value rules and understand them), so now is the perfect time for you to be patient.
Instead of focusing so much on the future, learn to appreciate where you are right now. Thirteen can be a wonderful age. It is a time to learn about life, who you are, what you enjoy doing. Relationships are great, and they are important, but take this time to discover your strengths and weaknesses and to find something you really enjoy and love doing and being. Life isn’t about getting a career, making money, raising a family. Life should be about discovering who you are and what is truly valuable about life and to appreciate the living, breathing universe around you.
As for your parents, they need to learn about you one thimbleful at a time. Don’t dump a heavy bucket of truth on them all at once; they need to be slowly eased into it with all the patience you can muster.
Good luck, dear.
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