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convincing an overprotective mother

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1. Posted by bluewaav (Inactive 627 posts) 7y

This will be my second trip as a single 25 year old female travelling to Europe. So you would think that convincing the parents would be a cinch by now. Actually, it was easier for the first trip. Maybe the problem lies in the fact that they have had longer to collect a compendium of horror stories and worries about young females travelling alone . . . . Who knows? But my parents are certainly giving me grief for deciding to take this trip.

The worries range from safety (apparently some females have been lured into dark alleys and stripped of everything) to simple theft (unfortunately my super 'responsible' cousin had her backpack stolen from her in Scotland) to even the imminent recession (go figure Doesn't it seem like they are grasping at straws?). At first, I began to pen a lengthy letter, an appeal of sorts, in my defence . . . But as the letter (it was actually an email) began to reach toilet paper lengths I began to question whether I was just borring them to death or making a point.

That is where you, my friends on Travellerspoint, come in. In desperation, I need ideas to help me ease my parents' fears and allow me to go. You see, they hold a very powerful card: finances. In savings, I have a substantial amount of money (enough for a budget trip to Europe, at least), but it is in trust under my mother's name. No moolah. No Europe. And tears and sighs and regrets for the rest of my 3/4 of a century's existance. What do I tell (or not tell) them? Advice is needed! What can I do that will help?

Thank you for anyone who replies, especially to those veterans out there who have probably answered a zillion of these posts by now (I know that I've answered a zillion of them) . . .

Happy Hollidays to you and Happy Travels as well.


2. Posted by whereisali (Budding Member 3 posts) 7y

Hi Steph,

Right...I'm in pretty much the same boat in that i'm reassuring my parents that I won't end up being a statistic when I head off next year.

As for ways of convincing your mum, here's a few ideas...

There are websites and services designed for single women that pair you off with someone who is going travelling at the same time, in the same-ish area. It works in the same way as dating sites do, but with the aim of matching you with a woman in the same boat, who has similar interests, that you can travel with. It might be something to think about for the first couple of weeks.

How about putting together a list of friends and distant relatives that are in the country where you will be travelling? That way, you always have a contact if you need help. Friends of friends and cousins twice removed can be used as an "In an Emergency" contact."

There's always Woofing or volunteering on an organic farm, to introduce you to a country, or signing up to an approved tour until you find your feet.

Maybe find out about travel hostels with buddy systems? Or sign up on approved tours to help you get your bearings in different cities.

Other than that, may I suggest reminding your mother that since this is so important to you, you will find a way to head off. Even if you scrape together enough for a flight, volunteer on a farm for the first few weeks until you find a job and work your way round, you will definitely get there.

I informed my parents that I'm all the woman I'm ever going to be (I'm 29) - and I don't need either their permission or approval, but I would like their support. I'm planning to take off in March - and I can't wait!

Hopefully with all this info under your belt, your mum will realise that you have your head fully screwed on, and she can only delay your travels, but she can't stop you.

Good luck and happy travels!


3. Posted by Erik85 (Respected Member 274 posts) 7y

Hmm there's several arguments that you could make, I bet that some you have already tried:

Ask her why she is letting a certain bad image cloud her view - nothing bad happens to the hundreds of thousands of people that travel every year. To believe you shouldn't travel because your female is also a fundamentally sexist view and much of the world (especially Europe) has progressed from this - you are both women so perhaps theres some way you can get that across. The fears are quite superficial, and women should be much stronger in doing what they have the right to do. Problems aren't limited to men, they are probably more likely to get involved in violence, bashings, etc.
Also assure her you will do the research, take note of travel warnings - show her a Lonely Planet guide with 'Dangers and Annoyances' section and explain how you will know some typical issues in each country and how to avoid them. The best thing to combat fear is knowledge of the place, people, environment, etc.

Many countries in Europe are probably SAFER than Canada. Countries like Norway, Sweden, Switzerland are likely to have lower crime rates, less guns etc. I remember a Canadian going on about a horrific shooting on a bus - it's not like scary stuff can't happen in your own back yard, it's very naive and unreasonable to believe this. Thousands of single women also travel and 99.9% wouldn't have anything serious happen to them - it's just the tiny chance of a negative thing happening and the sad thing is that this story sells more and the media will show it (like your dark alley story).

Also say that places like Israel, Syria, Iran, Cambodia, Nepal and most of Africa still have thousands of visits each year, even by single women with no problems at all. These are countries that have things like poverty, malaria, political unrest, military action, and/or just plain misguided assumptions by Westerners as being dangerous to travel to etc (obviously the countries I listed don't have all of these). Europe is like "safe-friendly-happy-joy-land" compared to many places that people go to

Also explain the social environment of the traveller - a lot of the time you won't spend alone! Likeminded people also like to experience things with other people and travel together. Most travellers have a deep respect for what they and other travellers are doing. I've found myself offering assistance heaps of times to accompany people if they are walking alone, keep an eye on them if they are drunk, be present if they are around a creepy person etc. to complete strangers
Bottom line is you'll be travelling on travelled routes where there's many other travellers and people in the industry that know what's going on (much better than your mother!) and look out for eachother.

My last point - You're 25! Old enough to make your own decisions regarding what you do. If your mother won't let you spread your wings now, when will she? Travelling is a great way to learn, develop and most of all reward yourself and enjoy life. Tell her it is one thing that will truly make you happy, and that it is better to live life rather than to sit back and dream about what you could have done...

Anyway although it's a long post I'm quite brief on each issue - pick and choose what you might use and extend the information - I don't know your parents so I don't know what would work! I'd definately go along the lines of the last one though :)

PS: Do you know if she's just using the 'safety' issue to cover for another reason why she doesn't want you to go? After all, you have already been once!

[ Edit: Edited on Dec 4, 2008, at 3:56 PM by Erik85 ]

4. Posted by a_broad (Full Member 8 posts) 7y

You are 25 years old. You may still be a student and your money may be controlled by your mother (parents) but you are an adult. There are men and women who are married at 25 years old -- and parents. For that matter how old were your parents when you were born?

I think you need to try to reason with them. Explain that you are an adult. Explain that it is unfair of them to hold you hostage or treat you like a child because you are financially dependent on them. If it is truly your money then at your age you should be able to do with that money what you choose -- legally you are well over the age of majority. And if you spend that money unwisely you will have to live with the consequences.

As for the perils that could await you in Europe, those very same perils could await you in Calgary.

5. Posted by Jude1019 (Budding Member 11 posts) 7y

Hey I turned 22 while I was traveling in Europe for a few months. So I left straight after college a young female on my own. Neither of my parents were for the idea (especially my mother.. she is strict catholic) but I knew I had to go anyway. I can say without a doubt that the time I spent in Europe was probably the best of my life thus far. Try using the "I will learn so much" tactic with your parents. Walking through the streets of Europe is like walking through a history text book. Berlin was amazing to see it has come so far since the war. Rome, well you can just imagine. I could tell you all about my crazy travel stories but its more important that you experience them on your own. The only thing your parents have to fear is that like me you will come home and can't wait to get back to school or work so you can start saving up to book your next adventure (I hope to go to Inidia next). Plus the job market is tough right now. Your parents mentioned the recession why sit home unemployed when you can go travel. By the time you come back hopefully things here will have calmed down and the unemployment rate will not be so high. Also with the worldwide recession the dollar is not doing as badly as it was a few months ago when I went.

One suggestion.. Don't go to Naples. Everywhere else I visited was awesome. Naples was just dirty and sketchy.

6. Posted by bluewaav (Inactive 627 posts) 7y

Thanks to everyone who has replied so far. I feel like cutting and pasting your replies and emailing them to them. Some of your ideas were really good, and I"m going to try them. What one person said about finding other single woman travellers through a match-up site, do you know of any offhand that I could try?

Maybe it would help if I explained my parents a bit.

My mother is an incessant worry-wort. She has told me on several occaisions that it is her God-given right to worry. It is her job. It is as though her job position says, "In House Worrier." To combat this, I have tried several strategies, like trying to appeal to the fact (she's a Christian) that God doesn't want her to worry- that, in fact, according to God, worry is a sin. I have also tried to reason with her and tell her that worry won't make anything happen or not happen, that I won't breathe for a second longer than I am ordained by God to breathe because of her worrying. Also, I tried telling her that if it was my time to go (that is, die), it wouldn't matter if I am in Calgary or Tokyo, God would take me. I would be kapput (sorry, can't spell). The end. Finito. If He wants me to get run over by a car, it would happen while I'm on my way to work, here in boring old Calgary, or it would happen on the streets of Rome. No matter what, that is the end of me. Those are the basic arguments, but it does go on.

My Dad is Mr. Logic and Mr. Plan Ahead. He has instructed me, that if I want to go to Europe, that I must make a contingency plan for every possible event that could take place- passport gets stolen, bag gets slashed, camera goes missing, someone takes advantage of me, I get kidnapped, etc. He wants me to detail in sequentail step-by-step form exactly what I am going to do! Yikes! It seems so insurmountable and excessive! (A few contingency plans are okay, and good, but not for every single common-sense thing!)

One thing that my parents respond well to is humility and cooperation, so I know that if I want to go to Europe, I will need to compromise on more than one issue, and have a cooperative attitude. However, they want to shorten my trip to only two months, limit my funds (even though they are my funds), and strap on a zillion conditons! It seems as if they are trying to overwelm me into staying at home . . . .

Screw it. I have their genes. I'm just as stubborn. (Maybe not the attitude that I should be adopting . . .)

Well, I'll let you know how it goes. .. Thank you to anyone else who responds . ..


7. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 7y

I think part of the problem may be that you're looking for your parents' approval. So long as you're decision rests on their OK, you're going to be sorely disappointed. At 25, you have every legal right to get up and go as you please. But--as the venerable (if hot-air prone) Dr. Phil says: You teach people how to treat you. So if you take on the role of child looking for her parents' OK, they're going to take on the role of parents saying no.

I think you have to reassure them as much as you can, and then just go. It's the going that will convince them, eventually, that you're perfectly capable of travelling solo and keeping safe. And besides--this is your lovely life to live! Enjoy it doing the things you love, rather than pining for the things other people won't "let" you do.

Our parents just want us to be happy, in the end. But only we know what decisions will get us there.

Good luck!

8. Posted by bluewaav (Inactive 627 posts) 7y


You're right. Treating my parents in a certain way teaches them the way to treat me. So how do I treat them in a way that will get them to treat me like an adult, instead of a child, besides demanding that I'm going to have it my way in a foot-stomping I'm-going-or-else toddler kind of way? What I mean is, how do I assert myself without causing them to be taken aback, and eventually putting their foot down and saying I can't go on grounds of my attitude towards them? I'm trying to listen to their concerns and treat them as valid, because, though I'm an adult, I still respect my parents and deem them deserving of honor and respect from me. It comes down to the fact that I just don't know what approach to take that will convince them that I'm an adult who faces her own consequences for her actions and has the independance to go out on her own in a responcible way. If it weren't for this in-trust thing, I think I would just take my money and run- I would declare that I'm going and they aren't going to stop me. But because I don't, I feel that I have to treat this matter delicately. This is my delemma.


9. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 7y

I think you've got yourself a paradox there--wanting to branch out on your own while needing your parents' OK to access money. So long as they hold the pursestrings, you're pretty much dependent on them for where and when you go.

The only solution, in my humble opinion, is to go off on your own with your own funds. Else you'll be travelling by other people's rules.

Good luck!

10. Posted by momliz (Budding Member 2 posts) 7y

Who is paying for your trip? If it is you, give your Mom a big hug, tell her you love her, respect her, will listen to her, and value her opinion, but that you are an adult and need to live your own life. You can agree to disagree.

If it is your Mom (and Dad) paying, well then, you need to start saving money, and go when you can pay for it yourself, so that you aren't beholden to them.

I am a mom, and let me tell you, the hardest thing is letting go. But, it has to be done.

Well, I see that they have control, somehow, over the purse strings. That needs to change - if it's your money, you need to control it. Are they trustees of your fund? That is a problem. Can you get a job, and make your own money that they can't touch? Maybe that's the answer, and you can show them how mature you are in doing so.

[ Edit: Edited on Dec 10, 2008, at 9:26 AM by momliz ]