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I'm planning to take a vacation next month. Since I started planning for it, my parents have continually expressed doubt and concern and generally interfered in the plans. They want to know where and with whom I'm staying, and recently have even begin pressing me for contact information and other details. (Though I'm a legal adult, housing costs in my country make it unfeasible to move out on my own without being married. As a result, I still live with my parents.)

The truth is that I'm going to a pony convention with a friend from America. Though I haven't met them in person yet and though they're reluctant to share their real-life information (and even more reluctant to get involved with my parents), I've known them for a few years and I trust them. At the insistence of my parents that I spend more time abroad than just the convention, I've also planned to stay with another American friend for about a week. (I'm also planning to engage in activities of an adult nature with my friends while I'm there.)

In previous attempts to appease my parents, I've told them that I'm going to the convention in order to showcase things of a technical nature, and that I'll be sharing a room with project staff. This worked fairly well initially, but they've become increasingly agitated lately and have even begun expressing a desire to go along with me. I fear that that won't end well, or will at least ruin my enjoyment of the trip. How do I reassure them and convince them that I'm perfectly capable of handling myself and should be left alone?

Some extra details: I'm male, 21, living in an Asian country. I'm attending university and have a part-time job, which nets me enough for me to save up for personal things, but I still live with my parents and by extension their food and lodging. My culture is "traditional", to the extent of being ignorant of homosexuality and (at best) thinking transsexuality is strange. As for my relationship with my parents, I mainly want to avoid conflict. I feel like deception is preferable. At the very least, they can't find out about what I get up to with my (also male) friends.

Is your relationship strong enough for you to maintain it through an act of independence?

It should be, but they're very concerned about safety.

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    Could you perhaps add your age bracket and home country or other cultural context? No need to share details, just to give us an idea. And are you workng, attending school / university.... That said, welcome to Parenting SE! – Stephie Apr 17 '18 at 15:08
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    Did you give them the basics, like your itinerary (flight details, address of where you are staying)? I am 30 and this is what appeases my parents (they give me the same information when they travel). It is to make sure you can be contacted or in the worst case "traced" in an emergency situation. – skymningen Apr 18 '18 at 14:07
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    Prepare for an emergency. Find out how to contact the emergency services in the US (e.g. dial 911 from a payphone), how to contact your nearest consular office, and make sure you have good health insurance. – Paul Johnson Apr 21 '18 at 16:06
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I had to have this same talk with my daughter not too long ago,, otherwise I'd be suggesting that this belongs in interpersonal SE. Even though, the question was posed by an adult child, it is a conversation many parents end up having so it's worthwhile to answer her, IMHO.

  1. Stop lying to your parents. They will find out eventually, and it will be much uglier than what you are afraid of if you are honest with them now. Not only will you be in opposition to their standards, you will have lost their trust and respect. You want to be treated like an adult, start acting like one.

  2. You want to go abroad to do things that aren't allowed in your country (are possibly illegal at home), that you know your parents would take exception to. Ask yourself if a couple of weeks of adolescent fooling around is worth the cost when (not if) they find out. I say "adolescent" because adults don't sneak around and take stupid risks for "adult activities".

  3. This person is reluctant to share real life information. .. to me this is a BIG RED FLAG. While they are probably good, and just practicing proper prudence about sharing information on the Internet, there is the of chance that you are walking into a trap. Internet predators are an overstated threat, but they are still a threat. They operate by gaining trust and luring the victim into a situation where they are isolated from support structures before striking. I'd recommend having alternate plans that don't leave you at the mercy of a person you barely know.

  • Perhaps I was a little unclear. I'm going abroad to attend a convention that's held abroad. America has a lot more conventions than my region. I won't be doing things that are illegal in that jurisdiction or in mine, and the "fooling around" is just a side benefit, not the main point of the trip. – Bytewave Apr 18 '18 at 12:02
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    I'd say stick to the main point of the trip then. Points number one and three stand on their own. As a parent, once your kids hit three years old, it's a never ending stream of "I want to do X on my own" alternating with "Help me because X was too big for me to handle on my own". Over time, we take pride in seeing how much more our kids can handle on their own and start to miss the days of "help me". Independence is a part of growing up, stepping out honestly may be painful, but will also be a source of pride. – pojo-guy Apr 18 '18 at 12:18
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    I disagree with the "stop lying" advice, since in this case, telling the entire truth would be outing himself. Coming out isn't an option for everyone for obvious reasons. Also, the fact that it's a pony convention could cause similar issues, due to the perception that such a thing is "not for guys." Though I think when possible, just not telling them everything is better than telling outright lies. – user14172 Apr 18 '18 at 13:29
  • The real issue is OP wants to exercise some independence and get out on his own, and the vacation is a way he can do that without completely moving out. the rest is window dressing. Part of being an adult is drawing boundaries. Declining to tell them personal business is not lying. Equestrian events of any kind draw large numbers of people - I'd expect the pony convention is a non-issue. – pojo-guy Apr 18 '18 at 19:22
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    @pojo-guy Try googling pony convention. He very well may not mean a convention for actual ponies, but for My Little Ponies. Going to an event like that as an adult man may very well cause problems with parents who aren't so accepting. – user14172 Apr 18 '18 at 23:03
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I'm reading this question to be primarily a concern with the fact that you are currently closeted with regards to your sexuality with your parents, and you think it is not safe for you to come out to them, especially since you are dependent on them for your place of residence, and that revealing the nature of the convention itself would also be problematic for similar reasons. And due to these concerns, you are having to hide certain details from your parents, but as a result, they might be getting worried about the lack of infirmation.

First of all, let me suggest that there are probably better resources for this type of problem, such as seeking out the advice of other LGBT people specifically on the internet. Their experience in this specific kind of situation will probably be much more helpful. I think though it is better to simply leave out details than use outright deception when you can. It's much harder to keep up lies than continue not telling certain details. It may have been impossible though to not tell a white lie about what the convention is about.

Secondly, how you deal with your parents I think is highly dependent on what your parents are like. Their concerns for your safety aren't unfounded. Given the exact circumstances of your situation, it might be part of the reason why your friend is reluctant to give personal information. However, there is still the real concern that it might not be entirely safe. I think it would be to your own personal benefit to come up with very detailed plans to ensure your own safety. You could then relay these plans to your parents, and it may be they would be reassured enough that they feel comfortable in your going alone. Examples for such plans:

  1. Figure out in advance alternative lodgings if the one you have planned doesn't turn out to be safe.
  2. Research and write down exactly what to do in an emergency situation. Like, take down contact info for local emergency services and the local embassy, figure out what to do if you suddenly become sick or injured, etc.
  3. Plan a time for a regular check in call with your family. Just a minute every day to say you're having fun and doing fine.
  4. Have multiple ways to get money. If your credit card got suddenly canceled, make sure you have a back up, for example.
  5. Get an international phone plan, so that they can call you at any time.

But again, I think this strategy is dependent on your parents. It's a good one if it would work, because you would be telling them completely honest information. But I could also see it not working in that it might make your parents start thinking about and getting anxious over specific situations. It is up to you to determine which strategy is best.

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Your parents are more concerned that you won't come home than the idea that you are leaving home.

  • Reassure them that you have already purchased the ticket home, so you won't be stranded
  • Agree to check in with the embassy/consulate when you arrive in the U.S. (even if you can only do that by phone).
  • Tell them that you will post photos of your journey. Then do it. Maybe they can suggest how often they want to see updates. Every day might be overkill, but every other day might be reasonable.
  • Let them know where you will be (which cities, etc.) so they can keep up with your journey from home.
  • Along with the locations, indicate the time difference between your home and your stops along your journey. If they are looking for updates at 3pm (home time) and it's 3am at your current stop, they could become alarmed without understanding that you were just sleeping.
  • While you are here, be aware of your surroundings. Tourists are so busy looking at everything around them, that they overlook dangerous situations, end up getting lost, and set themselves up for being taken advantage of.
  • Print out a google map for the cities you will visit, mark where the police station, hospital, and event location is in relation to where you will be sleeping. You probably won't need to know where the police and hospital are, but having the information will give you more confidence while you are in unfamiliar places.
  • Bring a journal so you can write about the things you did, saw, ate, etc. You'll want to remember every minute.

The U.S. is a big place and there are a lot of really nice people. Unfortuneately, there are bad people too. Exchange ID's with your online friends (before you leave) so you (all) know exactly who you are looking for when you get off the plane. It's not something you have to share with your parents. But it's not an unreasonable request either. After all, you are going quite a distance to meet them in person for your vacation/adventure.

I hope you have a safe journey with happy memories to last your lifetime.

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