Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Parents Treat Master's Student Like a Baby

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am 25 years old and still live at home with my parents. I am currently in graduate school working on my master's degree in applied psychology. Because I am still a student, I could not afford to get my own place. I am grateful I have parents who allow me to stay in their home, but I feel like they still treat me as if I am 12. My mom is constantly asking where I am going, what I’m doing, who I'm going out with, etc. How can I speak to my parents about treating me like an adult? -- Treat Me Like an Adult, Atlanta

DEAR TREAT ME LIKE AN ADULT: Know that as long as you live in your parents’ home, you have to follow their rules. It will be difficult for them to think of you as an adult and relax their ways, but you can attempt to get them to consider you differently.

Start by asking to have a family meeting. Thank them for their generosity in allowing you to continue to live at home. Tell them that the adjustment of living there and finishing school as an adult has been hard for you. Ask your parents if you can make new ground rules together that take into account the fact that you are an adult. Tell them that you would appreciate some privacy as it relates to your comings and goings. Assure them that you will be respectful of their home and mindful in letting them know you are safe, but you need for them to try to treat you like an adult.

Ultimately, you are going to have to move. It is extremely difficult to become independent while living with your parents.

DEAR HARRIETTE: Last month, my girlfriend introduced me to her sister for the first time. As soon as I met her, I felt an instant connection. We spent the entire night talking with each other and got along so well. My girlfriend was happy about how the evening went because of how well I got along with her sister. I feel so guilty for feeling something more than just getting along with her. Ever since that night, I have not stopped thinking about the connection I had with my girlfriend’s sister. What should I do? Do you think this is a real feeling if it has lasted this long? -- Crush on Girlfriend's Sister, Jackson, Mississippi

DEAR CRUSH ON GIRLFRIEND’S SISTER: This is one of those times when you need to step back, throw some cold water on your face and think about what you are considering. The chances that anything good will come out of you pursuing your girlfriend’s sister are virtually nil. You will break your girlfriend’s heart. Her parents will never trust you because you will have betrayed one in order to get with the other. Don’t do it. You cannot win.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)