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Parents Control Her Every Move As She Gets Ready to Move Away

Girl shouting with fingers in earsHi Harlan, I’m having trouble with my parents letting go as I transition into college. I have about two weeks left at home, and it’s becoming torture. They use their financial support as incentive to know everything about my soon-to-be life at school. They believe that because they are covering a huge chunk of my tuition, they have the automatic right to call my school to ask for all my grades, health records, class schedules and extracurricular information to be forwarded to them. Specifically, my mother wants an intense background check on every student I get to know over Facebook. I’ve tried explaining that some of this oversteps even legal boundaries because I am 18, but I never seem to get them to understand. Is there a practical way to approach this? Please help! – Controlled

 

Dear Controlled, It’s a parent power grab. They’re scared. They love you. They are losing control. If you’re an 18-year-old, you have FERPA on your side. This is the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act (www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/index.html). Basically, your parents have no legal access to your grades. If they don’t like it, have them talk to your school’s dean of students office. They’ll probably ask you to sign a waiver, but you can always sign and change your mind later. I know. It sucks. Tolerate it. Don’t let their fears distract you. The last thing you need is more pressure, anxiety and freaking out about your parents, but this is what you have. Once their fears are calmed, you will be able to communicate with them. Once you create a productive life at your campus, their irrational fears will fade. For now, find people on campus who can support, guide and help you. The more you push back, the more they will try to control you.

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