I am quite in a dilemma. My parents are very strict. I am 18 years old and they believe I should not have a boyfriend until I am 21 years old or older. I know the ten commandments say we should obey our parents. I want to. However, this guy that likes me and I really like too, let's just say has a time limit on Earth already. He is willing to wait until I turn 21. My question is how could I be a good daughter and at the same time make the person I like happy for the remainder of his days? - Anonymous
Good question! I don’t know if I can give you a straight yes-or-no answer on it, though.
The basic principle is that your parents have a say in your life — that the Fourth Commandment asks us to obey — based on your age and independence. Depending on where you live, the law may say you’re no longer a dependent minor at age 18. But given that some folks end up staying at home or in financial dependence on their parents even later, that gives parents some jurisdiction there too.
More on that thought here.
But strict age limits (18, 21, whatever) aren’t really the core of the question. The core of it is what’s best for you, and that needs to be worked out between you and your parents. Their decisions should only ever be for your good. Now that may imply that they — knowing you and knowing him — think that this really isn’t as good a thing as you (with less romantic experience and perhaps an overeager heart) might think. But maybe they’re the ones who don’t really know the situation well enough from the inside. Either way, “21” can be a sort of excuse on their side to make this infatuation “go away” by waiting it out.
So if the core is what’s best for you, the goal would be that you help your parents understand — and they help you understand — where you stand. So ask them… “With all due respect, and knowing that you’re only seeking my good, why 21?”
Then too, if they see that you’re patient and respectful and mature about it, they may have more of an inclination to drop the 21 requirement. Show them that you’re as mature as they hope you’ll be…
Now of course all of that doesn’t mean that parents are always rational about their decisions. Sometimes there can be unjustified possessiveness or overprotectiveness at work too. If that’s the case, it’s just a matter of figuring out how best to help them work free from their fears: getting advice from other relatives who know them well, etc. Throwing tantrums, of course, won’t get you anywhere.
And of course lots of prayer. If God wants it, it’ll happen. Pray for softer hearts and clearer minds all around.
Just some random ideas… hope it helps!
God bless you.
- Father Shane