Divorcing My Parents

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Dear Dr. Darcy:

My parents are crazy. It’s that simple and that complicated. They have no concepts of boundaries, privacy or respect for me.  I don’t even live with them yet they gain access to my apartment because they are on my lease and the doorman lets them in. And no, they don’t pay my rent. I needed them on the lease in order to get an apartment because in New York you need to make 40 times your rent in your annual salary, which I don’t make and which most people in their 20’s don’t make.  What’s worse is that my father checks my checking account every day, scrutinizing how I’m spending my money. When I’ve called to change my login, he’s called the bank as me and given them enough information to access it. I’m at my wit’s end. I’m ready to divorce them both.

ANSWER

Your parents are a handful, I’m not going to lie. But you, sister, have failed to do a billion things that you could to set boundaries. So before you serve your parents with divorce papers, take these steps:

1. Get your parents off your lease.  You only needed a guarantor, not another person on your lease. A guarantor doesn’t have the legal right to enter your apartment.  So switch them to guarantor and they won’t have access anymore.  And depending on how long you’ve been in your apartment, you may not even need a guarantor any longer. You may have already established yourself as creditworthy.

2.  Change banks, and after you open up a new account, assign a pass code or a pin to the account so that in addition to knowing your personal identifying information, anyone logging in or calling in will need it to gain access.  Pick a random word for you pass code like your favorite author’s name.

3. Stop taking money from them.  No need to re-read your question. You never told me that they give you money, but I’ve heard this story enough over the years to know that parents with this sense of entitlement almost never come by it without strings attached to the money they give their kids.  So stop. Get a part time job if you need one.  Or better yet, consider moving to a non-doorman building, 20-Something. You don’t need to live in a doorman building. That’s a luxury, not a necessity.

Give yourself 2 months after making these changes before deciding on whether to keep your parents in your life.  If they are still breaching boundaries after all these changes, you can always consider cutting them out.  But I always hesitate to encourage someone from doing that because in virtually every instance, there are things both parties can be doing to make the relationship healthier.  Bottom line: You want them to treat you like an adult? Act like one.

Writer’s stats: Female, Bi.