If you are a minor and living at home and your parent asks you where you’re going and with whom, you are required to answer the questions. But if you are not living under their roof, or if you are still living at home, but you are contributing an equal share of the expenses of the house, then you are not required to answer anything that infringes on your privacy.
No one else has the right to question your comings and goings. If you keep answering those kinds of questions, you are giving tacit permission for those interrogations to continue.
You are also setting yourself up for people to take advantage of you by expecting you to do something for them if you don’t have anything planned for when they want your services.
I was visiting a friend of mine whom I hadn’t seen in years and she asked me what excuse she could give her parents for not going to see them on the weekend. She said she had used up all the excuses she could think of.
My friend was in her mid-thirties, a wife and mother of two children. I remember looking at her as if she was crazy and I asked her why she needed to give an excuse. Admittedly, it was beyond my comprehension.
This was a brilliant woman and well-educated, and those attributes didn’t make a bit of difference. She was so indoctrinated into Pavlovian conditioning that as soon as the question was asked, she went into the automatic response pattern.
Although someone in her mid-thirties is still young enough to retrain, I preferred to just leave her with some seeds that could germinate in her mind whenever someone wanted her to account for her time or activities.
I told her that we all have to be accountable for our actions but we don’t have to account for our activities. If push comes to shove, she can always tell her parents that she has other plans or that she doesn’t feel like going there.
What could her parents do to her . . . take away her car keys? Lock her in her room without dinner? Ground her? At this point in her life, her parents are paper tigers: they have no teeth and they can’t punish her except to withhold their approval.
I left her with these words: “Stop explaining your life away.”