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I am 16 and a junior in high school. I have an older sister who is 22 and live with both of my parents.

My parents are super strict compared to my friends' parents. They are very religious, which I am not, so they don't let me do many things. I am not allowed to go out with friends all the time. I sure do go out with them at times, but it usually takes me a good amount of time to convince them into letting me go. All my friends are very free and they go out whenever they want with whoever they want.

I am not allowed to date at all, they are very strict about boys and think that "girls and guys can't be just friends". It's irritating because I have a lot of close guy friends and I can't hang out with them. They only let me go to malls (only 2 of them which are like 5 minutes away from home) but meeting up at the mall with my friends every single time is really boring. I tried to kill myself 3 years ago and after begging for years they finally let me see a therapist. They don't know much about mental issues and they always say stuff like "What problems could you possibly have to see a therapist?".

I used to have a boyfriend back then but when they found out my mom kept telling me to break up with him and now they are telling me they would ground me if I ever date someone.

I used to attend a school like Catholic schools but for my religion. (I am Muslim but as I said, I don't care about religion unlike my parents.) They didn't want me to go to a normal school at first because they thought I would rebel against them.

Since they are very religious and my mom wears a headscarf, I am not allowed to wear anything above the knee or to expose my shoulders in any way. I am also not allowed to wear anything like crop tops. I am a person who likes their independence a lot and I feel like I am trapped in my own home.

I wrote them a letter of 3 pages about this issue since I am better at writing down than talking. They said that "they didn't agree with me and I had every kind of freedom a 16 year old girl could have". My sister is in his last year in college and she is still not allowed to leave home. I am going to start college in 2 years and I am not allowed to leave home either. They keep telling us that we can leave home after we get married. I don't understand how they expect me to get married when I'm not allowed to date at all.

They pick me up and drop me off everywhere and don't let me do anything by myself outside the house. I wish they let me take care of myself more so that I could gain some experience about life in general.

I don't want to waste my teenage years like this. Please don't say "that I have to live with it" or "it's a phase and I'll grow out of it". These are sentences that praise problematic parents and I don't agree with them.

Also, I love my parents a lot so I don't want to rebel against them and make them sad. They care for us a lot and want the best for us but all my mental issues are caused because of them and I wish they understood this. Please give me some advice.

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  • @Anne: I agree that the question seems very similar at face value, but from the details of this question, I don't see much reason to think that the answers offered up in that question will work as well for this poster. – David Hedlund Sep 20 at 15:05
  • How do your parents feel about you getting a job, or volunteering somewhere you like, or playing a sport/doing a hobby in the afternoons outside of your house? What you need is an excuse to get out your house that your parents can't argue with. – Stacey Sep 20 at 16:28
  • Hi dia, I'm sorry to hear about your situation. It sounds like you do have parents who limit your freedom far beyond what's usual and called-for. But since you have a therapist to talk with, wouldn't it be better to raise these issues with him/her? This person is much closer to you, knows you much better and also knows your situation much better. Usually the more you know about a problem, the better the chance to find a solution. The solution might even involve outside help, but your therapist in a much better position to advise you on this. – Pascal says Talk To Monica Sep 20 at 16:47
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    @anon: They are very sensitive, as well as I am, and they are especially very protective of me after my suicide attempt. I know they are trying to protect me, but they're limiting my life at this point. I need to have at least some experience in life before I become an adult. Also, they never wanted me to go to a normal school, so I'm scared they'd transfer me to a religious school again, take my phone and forbid me from leaving the house except for school days. – dia Sep 21 at 10:04
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This is a difficult situation you're in. At 16 it is reasonable to be allowed a certain degree of independence, and sometimes it can be very difficult for parents to give you that independence.

1) Compromise

The best place to start is to look for an area of compromise. You need to get out the house, so if you can think of a hobby or volunteer opportunity that allows you to get away from your home some afternoons a week. This will allow you to get some space and time away from your parents. Something that you enjoy and fits within their rules. (Perhaps even they may find that driving you back and forth is such a pain that they may let you go on your own!)

2) Work with your parents' religion

Even if you're not as religious as they are, respecting their beliefs as much as you can will earn their trust. Volunteering is a good option because it's highly regarded in Islam. Hang out with Muslim friends if you can. These are things your parents can't argue with. If there are religious things you can tolerate doing, it's worth it to earn their trust, and then they'll be more likely to give you freedoms in return. There will be plenty of opportunities to discuss religion when you're older, but right now you need to work with what you have.

3) Talk to a trusted adult

Talk to a trusted adult. Perhaps you have a counsellor at school, or a teacher you trust, or your therapist. Perhaps they can give you advice that's more specific to your situation than we can. You aren't alone, even though it can feel like that sometimes, and to have someone on your side can really help make a day to day plan.

4) This is going to end eventually

In a couple of years time you're going to be an adult, and your parents are going to have a lot less power over you. You will have the option to choose to leave and function independently of them. It's your choice to decide what the relationship looks like then, depending on what level you're comfortable with. But before then try not to do/say anything that you'll regret later on.

5) Parents are complicated

Parents can be very afraid. I know - I'm one too. I don't know the motivations behind your parents actions but they are probably not trying to be difficult on purpose, they're just afraid of letting you go.

  • So you're a worried parent too, I get that. Bet you've never told your kids they "can leave home after they get married" and then said they can't date, though? I think we may be in over our heads here in a real way, and I think your 4) and 5) are great general advice, but I just don't see that we have reason to assume it'll apply in this case. – David Hedlund Sep 20 at 19:48
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    @DavidHedlund It's very difficult to know the full story from one post, and two conservative answers are here already, so I decided to go the practical direction. I suspect also we have inherent biases against Islam that will cause certain knee-jerk reactions. Since dating in Islam is pretty much always with marriage in mind, perhaps her parents intended that she can't date now at 16. Not that I'm excusing them, but I wouldn't attribute to malice something that can be easily explained otherwise. I grew up in an extremely religious family and am very familiar with this conservative worldview. – Stacey Sep 20 at 20:00
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    @Stacey I am inclined to say it's a bias against Islam to not think them able to be held to the same standard as us for basic human rights. Islam is a vast community. It has tons and tons of reasonable practitioners. So when we see something that doesn't look right, we shouldn't excuse them on the basis of culture. This isn't two cultures colliding, this family is going through an inter-cultural conflict. There are warning signs in this post that lead me to think that you may well be giving false reassurance here, and I think that's the less cautious approach. – David Hedlund Sep 21 at 20:46
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    @DavidHedlund - Again, I think you are out of line here. The world is not made up of cultures only like your own. To accuse us of being unable to think as 'clearly' as you do is inappropriate. Please stop imposing your standards on everyone. – anongoodnurse Sep 22 at 0:29
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    @anon: I really don't see how you read that into my comment. To me it seems like the opposite of what I'm saying. But I think I've made my case as clearly as I can, so I won't persevere. – David Hedlund Sep 22 at 5:56
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I offer up this answer with some reluctance, because having read Stacey's answer, I think hers goes in the same direction, but is much better. But since I wrote it, I guess I can as well share it.

Please don't say "that I have to live with it"

I'm sorry, but I think you will have to. Your options are severely limited.

Once you reach the age of majority, you can do whatever you want, provided that you have a way to support yourself. But until then, there really aren't very many things you can do. It sounds like your parents want you to live with them until you marry, and then you'll live with your husband, so in their world view independence is not something they want for you. You don't have to share this view, and once you're 18, you can break with your family and go live the life you want, but I think it's highly unlikely that you'll convince your parents that you need more freedom at 16.

You could try to force your parents to give you more freedom. One way to do this would be to find a social services representative (or a teacher) and tell him/her that your development is endangered at home. Teachers have a duty to report when they suspect or are told that children are endangered, and this might lead to a (cursory) investigation. But this investigation would most likely conclude that since you don't get beaten black and blue, have enough clothes to wear, get sent to school regularly and get to eat regular meals, you are therefore not in any kind of danger and that your parents control over you doesn't need to be limited.

Another way might be to petition a court for emancipation (which is possible in turkey at your age and would make you a legal adult before age 18, but chances that you can actually pull this off are very, very slim), and you might not want to, because then you'd be on your own (without all the good things your parents do for you).

While your parents are very strict, I don't think they're actually doing anything that would be considered harmful by the Turkish legal system. So again, your options are severely limited.

I think your best bet is to carve out as much freedom as you can, and to prepare yourself for the moment when you can decide for yourself. You'll have to decide what you value most (right now, you seem to be confused about that - you want more freedom, you think you have "problematic parents", but you also say you don't want to rebel or make them sad): Is it your independence, your ties to your family, a good education? Because I think you might not be able to get everything, so it's good to know what's really important to you.

You can try to argue with your parents. Find out what they have planned for you. Find out why it is important to them. Then start looking for loopholes and logical inconsistencies you can exploit. Your college education, for example: What will it be for? Do your parents expect you to find work between the time you finish your college education and the time you marry? Do they expect you to work once you're married? If not, why have a college education at all? If they expect you to work, why not start early so you can get some practice, which will help you find a job later on? If you can start earning some money, even if you turn it over to your parents for now, a job, even if it's just serving coffee in a coffee house or stacking food in a store, might come in handy when you turn 18 and have to decide how to proceed. Also, it takes you out of your home and puts you in contact with other people, which might also come in handy later on.

Another example, again starting from the college education: If they want you to have a college education, they must also want you to think for yourself. Once you marry, are you supposed to just do what your husband tells you (in which case, again, why have a college education?), or do they see marriage as a partnership of two equals? If so, shouldn't they help prepare you for how decisions are reached, and how compromises work? Compromises are reached by both sides arguing and then finding common ground - something you can start practicing now, with them.

You might not win many of these arguments - but maybe you'll win some.

Also, I hesitate to write this, but parents don't need to know everything that goes on in the life of a 16-year-old, if you get my drift.

  • Don't know why you removed this perfectly good answer... – anongoodnurse Sep 20 at 22:55
  • @anongoodnurse: I thought Stacy's answer, which beat mine by a few minutes, was clearer, more concise and offered more practical advice than mine, but I'll go with your judgement and offer it up anyway. – Pascal says Talk To Monica Sep 21 at 8:19
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    @Pascal I think your answer is very good on its own. Sometimes things need to be said multiple ways, and the "looking for loopholes" paragraph is also what I was going for but couldn't figure out how to put it in a general way like you did. – Stacey Sep 21 at 10:24
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    I upvoted this answer because it asks the important question “what do you value most” and because it talks about getting a job as a potential solution. If possible, a job where you can earn tips would be ideal so that some of the money can be squirreled away for the glorious day when emancipation finally happens. The harsh reality is that it’s VERY difficult to just set out on your own at age 18 years, 0 days, even with preparation and support. Homelessness is a real risk. – Jax Sep 22 at 1:03
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    I absolutely LOVE this answer for 2 reasons : 1- Asking yourself what you value most and 2- asking your parents for their reasonings. Many times, people have a need to just flow with some pre-defined steps of life without giving it much thought, or connecting the steps to each other. Asking questions makes them stop and give it a thought. Even if they really think "You must do what your husband tells you to, but you still need a college education just because" they may hesitate to say it out loud with a straight face. That might force them to reconsider their norms. – learner101 Sep 23 at 7:59
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My parents were fairly strict, although not quite as strict as you've described. I wasn't allowed to date at all until I was 16, and then only group dates. I had a strict curfew, and they always had to know who I was with, where I was going, and when I would be back. If any of those plans changed, I had to call first. I was expected to reserve Sundays all day, and Monday and Wednesday evenings for religious activities.

My siblings constantly complained that they never got to do anything, while it seemed to them that I had an unfair amount of independence. What did I do differently from them? I worked within the rules instead of complaining about the rules and sulking at home.

I found that keeping my parents apprised of the "big three questions," as I called them, was a small price to pay. In fact, as an adult, I do this with my wife out of common courtesy. Group dates were certainly better than no dates, and also took a lot of the pressure off. Getting home before curfew was a lot better than not going out at all.

I would suggest exploring the freedom you have within the rules. It's probably more than you think. Try planning specific activities with defined start and end times instead of "hanging out." Ask your parents if your friends can hang out at your house, which they might be comfortable enough with to ease their restrictions on boys. Think of other activities your parents would be more comfortable with that would still be fun for you. Making friends with some Muslim youths might ease some of your parents' concerns, and you might find you have a common struggle. Introduce your parents to your friends, boy and girl. It's a lot easier for them to distrust someone they don't know. Let your parents see you are cultivating a wide variety of friendships, and not getting too serious too soon. Go out of your way to help your parents not worry, and they will eventually stop worrying (at least on the outside).

Working within the rules and not acting like you're trying to hide something or get away with something builds up trust. That trust leads to easing of restrictions. The few times I missed curfew I did not get in trouble, because my previous behavior had shown my parents I did my best and would have called as soon as I was able.

  • Thank you for taking your time to write this! Well, I always tell my parents where I am going, with who and when I'll be back home. As I said, since they drop me off and pick me up from everywhere, we usually discuss the time before and during the outing. My friends know most of my friends, have their AND their parents' numbers saved in their contacts, and all of my friends are Muslim. The no boys rule is not something I think I can break since bringing boy friends home was never an option to my sister nor me. – dia Sep 24 at 15:13
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Is there any chance you could excel at your schoolwork or extracurricular activities? This might lead to an offer to attend a prestigious university that's far from home, perhaps even in another country. If your parents value education highly, they might support you in attending a university away from home. Even if you're not a stellar student now, if you work hard, you could probably be one by the time you apply to colleges.

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First off, I want to validate your feelings regarding this. From your description, it seems your parents are doing you a big disservice. If they came here for advice, I would tell them that as well. But they're not the ones reaching out, you are. So at the end of the day, it's you who are going to have to face your parents with this. And from your description, it doesn't seem like they place much value in your view. So that's a tough situation to find yourself in, and not one that we can remedy remotely.

When it comes to a child's right to be heard, I usually fall back to article 12 in UN's convetions of the rights of the child:

States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

You are almost adult, and it seems that your view is given almost zero weight, so that to me is a clear conflict. Now, the convention deals with the responsibilities of states, so it's not really applicable to parents, but I usually hold that if your parenting doesn't live up to basic human rights, as a parent, that's a red flag that you really should take a step back and reflect on that. You could see if that bites on them, but frankly, I'm not hopeful it will. They seem to have a clear idea on what they want from you, given all that you've gone through to no avail so far, it's not obvious that you will be able to sway them.

If I come across as saying that "you'll have to live with it", it's not because I share your parents views, it's because I think this is out of reach for anyone on this forum. I think you should reach out to someone who will be able to get in direct contact with your parents, which we won't, such as some social services in your country.

They keep telling us that we can leave home after we get married. I don't understand how they expect me to get married when I'm not allowed to date at all.

This is a red flag for me. This goes beyond just parents being protective. I get that what they're saying doesn't appear to compute to you, but this does work if you'll marry a husband of their choosing. If they are serious about that, this tells me that you will not have your independence once you turn adult. They will yield control over you, but not to you, to your husband. The fact that you do not want to rebel against your parents speaks to your credit, but from this it seems that if you want autonomy, you will have to wrestle it from your parents hands.

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    "This is a red flag for me...there is a sinister logic to it." It is not a sinister logic, it is a cultural issue. -1 Your ill opinion of another culture does not mean your culture is right and theirs is wrong. (FWIW, there's a subculture right here in the US which does not allow dating either. The people are not all insane or abusive. They just believe in something different.) – anongoodnurse Sep 20 at 22:48
  • @anon: forget me, it seem to be the opinion of OP as well. And I don't see that the number or geographic spread of such occurrences makes a difference. – David Hedlund Sep 21 at 5:33
  • If op was happy with it, I'd have no issue at all. But then there'd also be no question here. Your comment can well be extrapolated to the entire question, as everything here may have a cultural explanation, but that seems utterly unhelpful. – David Hedlund Sep 21 at 5:49
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    Your answer demonstrates no understanding of cultures different from your own. This is a world-wide site (at least to English speakers) and describing a cultural phenomenon as sinister is out of line. She's loved, not getting beaten (you would have some ground to stand on there.) – anongoodnurse Sep 21 at 13:21
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    @anon: oh is this a wording issue? I don't mind changing that, I'll accept it may come across wrong, I'm not a native speaker. As for the answer in itself, I hold the rights of the child to be pan-cultural, and whenever they are violated, which I believe happens frequently in American culture as well, mind you, judging from what I see here, I don't think it can be tolerated under the guise of cultural sensitivity. – David Hedlund Sep 21 at 15:55
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I'm not a Social Worker or an expert in this field, and the law governing this stuff varies from country to country, so it would be best for you to discuss this with a trusted authority at your school if it's publicly funded/non-Muslim, or with your therapist. This is my advice:

If you are currently seeing a therapist, you may want to tell them about this, as well as about your previous suicide attempt. They are likely a mandatory reporter, so if you tell them about this stuff, you might be able to ask them about what would be required for the Department of Child Services (or your locale's equivalent) to remove you from your home and place you in a foster home, or for you to be given an involuntary stay at a local mental hospital - with a previous suicide attempt on the record, it might be possible that confessing suicidal thoughts may be sufficient to get you confined to a suicide wing. While neither of these are ideal situations, they would remove you from the control of your parents, at least on the short term. You might also want to look up local Women's Shelters, and the rules that apply to them; it's possible that you're old enough that they'd count you as an adult if you run away from home and go to one.

However, the real thing you have to look forward to is very simple: when you turn 18, in a Western country, that means you're an adult, and they're not (legally) allowed to stop you from leaving if you want to. You can just pack your stuff, hop on a bus, and just catch a ride to another city if you really want to, and there's nothing they can do to stop you without breaking the law. If this is the route you intend to take, I would suggest looking up Women's Shelters, or build a social network outside the Muslim subculture that you've been living in, to minimize the risk of your parents finding you. I would personally recommend Christian churches, since many churches have strong charitable arms that might be able to assist you (even if you're not a Christian), and they're unlikely to rat you out to Muslim family members who come looking if they know your situation.

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