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My parent(s)/guardian(s) are very uptight about me starting to spend time with people I like romantically. How can I convince them I’m ready?

While it may not be easy, the healthiest approach is to respect your parents’ or guardians’ wishes and, little by little, show them you’re responsible enough to spend time with people that you’re romantically interested in. That can mean helping around the house, doing well in school, being respectful, establishing trust and making good choices in all areas of your life to show maturity.

It can also be useful to talk with your parents to understand where they’re coming from. What are they worried about? What are they trying to protect you from? How can you help them trust you? Once you understand this, you can start to negotiate—respectfully—for a little more space. You can find ways to calm their fears—maybe by spending time with people in groups, for example, or having your partner or the person you’re interested in over for dinner to meet your parents. Start small and work your way up. Once you earn their trust, your parents may reward you with more freedom.

If your parents have strong religious or cultural beliefs about seeing people romantically, it can be a bit tougher to deal with. You might want to talk to a family member, school counselor or another trusted adult about how to approach your parents. In the end, going behind your parent(s)’ or caretaker(s)’ backs will only decrease their trust in you and make it harder for you to gain the freedoms that you’re looking for.

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