I am in my early twenties and I come from a culturally conservative family. My parents - who have been married since their early twenties - expect me to stay at home until I get married, too. This isn't a surprise to me, after all I knew this was coming. It was just that whenever we had the marriage conversation the idea of getting married or ever needing to have the argument of future living situations seemed so far away. But now it's here, and I can't run away from it any longer.

My college graduation is two years away, and I already have set plans for what I want to do afterwards. I don't plan on staying with my parents or getting married after I graduate. Not that I'm against marriage. I wouldn't mind it, but I want to have some life experiences of my own before I "settle down" I guess. I get the feeling that my parents aren't going to agree with me. And though I can persuade my mom to let me go and live on my own for a bit, my father would never allow it. He's very stubborn and though I love him to death he tends to have a "MY way or the highway" outlook on parenting. Which I understand when I was a kid. But now that I am a young adult, I'm ready to leave. And I'm afraid that if I do, he and I will get in to a big enough argument that will destroy our father-daughter relationship. I've always been close to my family so I don't want to have to spend the rest of my life ignoring them. Help! – H

The last thing I want to do here is cause a rift between you and your dad, but H sometimes in life you’ve got to kick up some dust to fight for your autonomy.  Here’s hoping it goes smoothly, but who are we kidding - if your father is as old school as I’m imagining, there’s no way he’s going to let you go without a good showdown. 

So it’s time to pull up your big girl drawers and have a grown up conversation. You have two years to come up with the world’s best plan, and having said that, make sure to WAIT until those two years are up before bringing up this topic.  There is no point in causing friction this early on – it will only bite you in the ass. 

In the meantime though you can start prepping: 

First things first, start saving money so that you have at least your first and last month’s rent, as well as a three month stash for all the bills. 

Next, figure out how you’re going to make some dough.   Spoiler alert:  you’ll have to do this on your own.  At no point can you ask him for financial back up.  I mean, hopefully he’ll secretly send you money through your mother (wink, wink), but by no means can you rely on his help.  Got it?  Good.  

Finally, you need tug on those heartstrings, which means letting your pops know in some tear jerking way that moving out doesn’t mean he’s losing a daughter.  So convince him that whenever he needs you, you’ll be there.  So you know… Sunday dinners and setting up regular hangouts.

The goal here is to convince him that you’re not going anywhere and all that’s happening is that your toothbrush has moved a few kilometers down the road.  It’s all about softening the blow.  After that, all you can do is pray that he’ll come around…..

Look, H, I hope he’ll say yes, I hope he’ll come up with a compromise, but chances are he won’t budge.  I’m sorry, and if that’s the case that means you’re going to have to leave without his blessing.  It’s going to be sh-tty, but at the end of the day you gotta do what you gotta do.  If the only option is to marry yourself off, he needs to know that your freedom outweighs his rules.