My bf’s parents are so strict!

I can’t see my boyfriend over the summer because his parents are always punishing him. Even my mom can’t convince them to relent.

Love can conquer all, says our elder — three months isn’t such a long time.

Dear EWC

I am currently dating a boy who is 17. We are both very happy except for the fact that his parents are very strict. And I do not say that lightly. He was not allowed to have his own cell phone before this Christmas, and when he finally got one they forbade him from taking it out of the house, including school. The only time he was allowed on his phone on weekdays was from 4-8 and on weekends from 10-8. We adjusted to this fine, but about two months ago they just took it and he hasn’t had it since. Again, we adjusted because his school district provides them with laptops so we are able to secretly talk that way, but the school year is almost over and he is going to have to return the laptop soon. When that happens I have no idea what we are going to do. I do not live within walking distance of his house and neither of us are able to drive. I don’t know what to do about this anymore. I have asked him numerous times why they constantly impose these rules on him, and they are always for stupid reasons like he didn’t put his laundry away. I understand punishing him, but he has three brothers who are all treated like kings and almost never get in trouble! His five-year-old half-brother has a tablet and his own laptop and can use it when he likes! How is that fair? I even asked him if his parents have favorite children and he said, and I quote, ‘My dad and stepmom just don’t like me.’ We have tried writing letters before, but I’m sure you know that letters aren’t exactly instant.

I know I’m young, but I really do love and care about him and don’t want our relationship snuffed out because of his mean dad and step-mom. My own mother has even tried to get involved and has called his dad to ask if he could come to my house, but he usually just ignores her calls or says that he is grounded for some other pointless reason. Any advice on what to do, or how too even cope with this would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much.

GranJan replies

I see several possibilities here, so let me just run through them:

First, let’s take everything in your letter as absolute gospel truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth. Your boyfriend’s parents are unreasonably strict with him and are being totally unfair. If that’s the case, nothing more to it than that, you two will have to pretend that you are living back in the non-social-media era, and get along for the summer the way young people used to get along. Letters, and perhaps an occasional phone call. He’s underage, living at home, being supported by his parents, and the bottom line is that (short of actual abuse) they call the shots. Will this “snuff out” your relationship? Not if you both love each other, as you say.
Lovers have been separated for much longer than a few months, and their relationships have survived. Pretend that you are Juliet and Romeo, and count the days until school starts again.

Another possibility: your boyfriend is not seeing clearly, or being honest about, the reasons for his being treated so strictly. You say that there are “stupid reasons” like not putting his laundry away. If he knows what the rules are, and still chooses not to obey them, he’s going to lose privileges. And maybe — just maybe — some of the rules he breaks don’t feel at all “stupid” to his parents. If I were an overworked, under-appreciated mom, being nice enough to do my almost-adult son’s laundry for him and then finding that he didn’t even bother to put it away, I’d be fairly pissed off! The solution: stop breaking the rules, prove to his parents that he understands their point of view and wants to cooperate (even if he doesn’t agree), and get his privileges back. That may be the price he has to pay in order to have you back in his life this summer. Question is, is he willing to pay it?

Last possibility, unlikely, but still possible — he’s not giving you the whole story. He’s using his parents as an excuse to not spend so much time with you. And his parents know this and are supporting his putting some distance between the two of you.

Of course, I have no idea of which of these — or maybe something else entirely — is going on. I don’t know you, or him, or any of the other folks who are involved. I do know that in the long scheme of things, three months isn’t a very long time. While it will be difficult, and you wish with all your heart that it could be otherwise, I think you’re going to have to just grit your teeth and bear it. Use your spending money on postage stamps. Write a letter to him every day, and collect them and send them off once a week. And don’t sulk or whine or mope around, because that will make you feel even worse. Pretend that he’s in the army, in boot camp where guys aren’t even allowed to get letters from home — and be very glad that he’s safe and well and will be waiting for you in September.

Letter #: 440919
Category: Dating/Relationship


  1. Hey am not going to comment but I want to share my story as well
    So I have been dating this guy for a month well am 19 and his 16 please don’t judge I really like him
    But problem is, his not allowed to leave home when school is about to start and he can’t let me visit him the only chance I have with him is at church but he is always having people around him and it’s sometimes hard for me to fit in with them but I try to anyway

    What hurts most is he never comes up with another solution where we can meet. Besides Sunday I really want to send time with him but it’s like his pushing me away and when we talk about it I say something offensive and then we fight I don’t know what to do

    1. Administration Reply
      January 27, 2020

      If you decide to ask for advice please submit via the ‘ask for advice’ page on the site.

    2. Zoe 🦋 Dowling Reply
      April 24, 2023

      I have the same exact thing going on

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