Annie Fox for Teens... Hey, Terra!

Annie (AKA Hey Terra!) has been around long enough to have experienced a lot of what Life can dish out. But, it hasn’t been so long that she's forgotten what it's like to be your age. Check out some of the thousands of email questions teens from around the world have sent to Terra. You may learn something useful from her answers:

“My friend's parents treat her like a kid.”

Hey Terra,

I'm really worried about my best friend. Her parents always make her stay home and watch her younger sister, and she never has time to herself. I do understand that her parents need help watching her 3 year old sister, but shouldn't she get to go out sometimes? She's turning 18 in a couple of months, but her parents still treat her like she's a kid. I can tell it bugs her a lot, but she wont talk to anyone about it. What do I do? I really want to help her out.

Worried Friend

Dear Worried Friend,

First of all, I want to say that you have a good heart. It's very kind of you to want make life easier for your friend, but you've got to step back for a minute and figure out what's really going on here and where you fit in.

Whenever I hear people complaining about something and using the words "always" and "never" it makes me wonder if the whole truth is being told. You say your friend's parents "always make her stay home and watch her sister." Obviously your friend leaves the house sometimes, right? And you say she "never has time to herself." This also sounds like a bit of an exaggeration. I'm not saying that your friend's parents can't possibly be overburdening her with childcare responsibilities (that's quite likely) but I don't think you're in a position to know just how extreme the situation is. You don't live in her house. You say you can "tell it bugs her a lot" but how can you tell that? Especially if your friend "won't talk to anyone about it".

I have no doubt that you care about your friend and that's a good thing. I can also tell that if this situation were happening in YOUR family, you would be outraged by it. You would probably waste no time letting your parents know how you felt. But it sounds like you and your friend have a very different approach to things. And maybe what seems like a horrible situation to you isn't as horrible to your friend.

Bottom line, until your friend tells you that she needs your help in dealing with her parents, I'd suggest you stop making this your problem. Because it really isn't. And if and when it becomes a problem for your friend, the best advice you can give her is to talk to her parents about how all of this makes her feel. If she's not ready or willing to do that, you can't do it for her.

Does that make sense?

In friendship,


Need some advice? Write to Terra. She'll give you a straight answer you can trust without any lectures.

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