Father Doesn’t Know Best

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Dear Dr. Darcy:

My father has no concept of my privacy. I’m 14 years old and he refuses to wait for me to say come in when he knocks on the [bedroom] door. He knocks and opens it at the same time. This is a big problem for me when I just come out of the shower and I’m changing in my room. He still thinks I’m a child but I’m not ok with him seeing me naked or in my bra and underwear. How do I tell my father that I’m a teenager and I deserve privacy?

ANSWER

You are absolutely right. As a teenager, you deserve to have a few seconds notice before someone comes into your room, and the knock-push (as I call it), is frustrating because it gives the illusion of respect without the follow through.

Sometimes parents have a hard time accepting that their children are growing up. It doesn’t make it right – it’s just to put his behavior in context.  But it’s imperative that you learn that it’s OK to set boundaries. Because the boundaries you set today will turn into the boundaries you set when you’re dating – and we want you to be able to express when something doesn’t feel right (You hear this, parents? A submissive child turns into a submissive adult).

I don’t know what your family is made up of, but if you have a second parent, that would be my first step towards fixing this. Presuming you do (and if you don’t, please let me know and I’ll repost a new answer), I’d speak to that parent and tell them exactly what you’ve told me. In particular, I’d emphasize the just-out-of-the-shower moment. It’s a hard scenario to argue with – even for a parent who’s in denial that his daughter is morphing into a young woman.

Writer’s Stats: Female, Straight.