Teen Talk

Visiting my parents' friends is such a boring affair

Q: I am always forced to go with my parents when they visit their friends as they say their friends have not seen me for a long time. I get bored going to such visits because while my parents catch up with their friends, my sister and I just sit there. We have quarrelled a few times over this with my parents. Am I being rebellious or is my request a reasonable one?

Bullied

A: Dear Bullied, Like most parents, yours are proud of you and wish to show you off on these occasions. However, after the initial social introductions, you and your sister are left to your own devices, which generally means keeping yourself occupied for the duration of the visits.

Arguing only reflects your resistance, which may result in your parents seeing you as unreasonable. This might be negative communication.

Nonetheless, it may be time to negotiate with your parents - in a constructive way - about alternative options. Here are some suggestions.

1. Find an opportunity to discuss the matter with your parents. For instance, after dinner when everyone is relaxing, watching television and in a good mood. Or bring it up at a structured family meeting time.

Three main rules for discussion:

• Each party is allowed to be heard and not be interrupted;

• Each party is given a specific time to talk, maybe 30 minutes;

• No raising of voices or stomping out of the discussion.

2. Instead of simply saying no to the visits, come up with logical or rational points to convince your parents, such as, that you can use the time better to revise your schoolwork or engage in a hobby that you prefer.

3. Consider possible alternatives. For example, find a compromise on the number of visits within a timeframe or ask if your sister and you need not be required to stay for the entire duration of the visit.

4. Take lots of pictures of yourself and your sister for your parents' wallets or smartphones. They could use these to show you off instead of having you turn up personally.

ASK THE EXPERT

This is a new fortnightly series. Whether you are a youth looking for answers or a parent seeking help to deal with a problem your teenage child faces, get your questions answered by an expert. Send your questions to stlife@sph.com.sg with the heading, "Teen Talk". We reserve the right to edit and reject questions.

•Answered by Dr Carol Balhetchet, PhD, a clinical psychologist, for The Straits Times. This excerpt first appeared in Dr Delinquent: A Guide To Decoding The Teenage Years. The book is available at stbooks.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 30, 2020, with the headline 'Visiting my parents' friends is such a boring affair'. Subscribe