Q: I'm 28 years old and I have helicopter parents. I love them and am fully aware of their behavior. They are overly inquisitive about my job, my relationships, my extracurricular activities, etc., but I've learned how to handle them. I've been involved with a terrific girl for the past year. In most families, this would be the time or even past the time where I should introduce her to my parents. Thank God we all don't live in the same city so I was able to avoid it thus far. I've told my girlfriend all about them and she says she's prepared. I know she's going to get the third degree when she meets them and I'm nervous about the encounter. I am afraid that she might look at them and say who needs this. How should I handle this? — Josh, 28
Dr. Susan: Sounds like you're still letting them control your emotional life. If your girlfriend, forewarned about your family's inquisitiveness, finds it all "too much," then she's not the one for you. You've kept her away from them for a year, but if you intend to get serious about a future together, she'll have to be understanding. Getting to see your parents up close will give her information about you, and perhaps more understanding of why you mainly avoid them.
Of course, you can ask your parents nicely not to question her to the point of shining a light in her eyes and handcuffing her to a table. Maybe you and she could arrange a secret signal for you to rescue her when things get uncomfortable. But mainly, when you gain the confidence to be your own self, it won't matter how your parents pry or try to control you. Sincere interest on their part is fine, but manipulation is not. You're the one who gets to draw the line.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.