I’m 17. Lately my brother and mom have changed. My mom is pretty scared of my brother, who’s 23, and lets him do whatever he wants. He’s very hostile and always causing problems. My dad has decided that he can’t take any of this anymore and he’s told me that he needs to leave. I told him I didn’t think I could and about a month ago he told me he wouldn’t leave me. Well things have gotten even worse lately and I was actually scared to come home the other day just because of my brother. My dad told my mom we were leaving. And she didn’t seem to care. I guess it’s normal for me to feel so upset, but I’m just worried that if I go my mom will hate me and if I stay my dad will forget me. I’m so lost and confused and I need helpful advice.

A: You are understandably torn. You love both of your parents. No kid wants her family to fall apart. But you can’t do anything to be helpful if you aren’t safe. From what you have told me, I think you should go with your dad for now. Stay in touch with your mom by phone and email. Let her know that you love her but that you can’t live in a place where you are scared. It’s possible that losing you and your dad will help her wake up to how bad things really are. She needs to start working on getting your brother help instead of letting him tyranize her and control the family.

I also suggest that you and your dad start going to a family therapist to help you learn how to manage the situation and to get some support in this difficult time. Once you feel the therapist understands what is going on, you could invite your mom to join you in sessions. Sometimes this approach helps a family heal.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 8 Sep 2007

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2007). My dad is moving out and wants me to go with him.. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/09/08/my-dad-is-moving-out-and-wants-me-to-go-with-him/