Should I Ask My Parents To Leave?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

My parents abandoned me and have been back in my life for a year: My parents abandoned me and my younger brother 2 years ago, 2008. I was 18 he was 17. We’d just moved to Florida and were renting a house. I had just gotten my first job at a preschool.

My mother Relapsed twice after being 10 years sober. She disappeared somewhere in the area and my father left to go back to Virginia. He said he thought that my mother would get my act together if he wasn’t there to catch her. I honestly thought he was going somewhere in the area, not back to our hometown 8 hours away. I was alone in a house and rent was due. I had to call a nonprofit to cover the rent on the house and use my paycheck to get rent together for the apartment we moved into all utilities included. My brother moved us into the house.

My brother was unsupervised but managed to graduate. He also keep an active social life with girls paying for everything. We were very poor. I could cover the cost of rent and bus passes. We went hungry a lot. No one but the landlord knew that we were living like this. Everyday I went to work,came home and went to bed. I cooked what I could and developed good cleaning habits. I spent a lot of time crying, wondering how my parents could just leave me. They just left us. I didn’t have any friends. No Friends at all. I could have disappeared and no one would have known. My mother would call to tell us that she was alive. This went on for 14 months
After all that time of being broke and alone, my mother (still not sober) called me to tell me that my father wanted to come back. She tells me that he wants to help me with my money problems and that he feels bad about what has happened. It takes a month to think about, but with my brother pleading with me I said yes. My father moved in with us into my small 2 bedroom apartment with myself and my brother This is February 5, 2009. My brother gave dad his room. My mom showed up 2 days after my dad got back. so they’re sharing a room and I have a room and my brother is on the couch.

March 2, 2009 my brother goes to jail for burglarizing an unoccupied residence. No one saw it coming, turns out my brother had been stealing the whole time we had been dead broke.

My mom and dad share a room in my apartment, and I have a room.

My mother then relapses(crack-cocain) once a month for the next 18 months. She steals my rent money twice. She pawns 2 televisions, a 6 year old desktop computer and my only DVD player. Watching borrowed DVDs from the Library was my only tv time. She shows up and cries and I let her back into my house.
It’s August 2010 and she’s still in my house. My father is still in my house. My brother is still in jail and everyday I fight the urge to kill myself. I allowed these people to hurt me and ruin my life. They still stay here with me and don’t contribute. My dad doesn’t pay rent and my mother hasn’t worked since 2002. I still have no friends, I still go to work and come straight home. I’ve been promoted three times in my job and I should be moving forward but I can’t because they are still in my apartment, refusing to get sober or grow up. They think everything is okay. But everytime I see them, I think about the day they left me. And all the nights I was feeding my brother instead of myself, or almost evicted or handwashing clothes in the bathtub. I’m not religious but I’ve always felt a responsibility as a daughter to do right by my parents. Even if they have not been good to me. I feel so much anger towards them. I’m even more angry at myself for letting them back into my life. I am not able to forgive. I keep asking myself what I really want. All I want is to be left alone. Which seems odd coming from someone who’d been abandoned before.
Is is petty that I am still hurt by this? Is it even fair to hold this against my parents? Is is fair for me to ask them to leave?

A. You have experienced a very difficult life and unfortunately your parents are part of the problem. For the majority of people, parents care for the children but in your case, the opposite is true. You are now faced with the difficult and inappropriate burden of taking care of your parents.

I understand the fact that you feel responsible for caring for your parents but in this specific situation, you may be doing more harm than good. Your mother is addicted to drugs. She is stealing from you to sustain her drug habit. Stealing from friends and family often is part of drug addiction. Mental health professionals, who work with this population, realize the importance of tough love. Tough love involves setting boundaries and learning how to say no. For you this means asking her to leave. Allowing your mother to live in your home essentially equates to supporting her drug addiction. You are enabling her. How? Living in the home provides her some level of stability that allows the drug use to continue. She does not have to work, pay rent, buy groceries, and so forth. She has no responsibilities. You are taking care of her needs. Living in your home also gives her access to items to steal for drug money. Oftentimes, individuals addicted to drugs have no reason to change. Hence they don’t. When there are not enough consequences for their behavior, an individual addicted to drugs often continues to use. I highly doubt that you want to support your mother’s drug addiction but by allowing her to stay, you are sending the message that “it’s okay to use drugs, live in my home and to steal from me.”

To answer your specific question, “is it fair to ask your parents to leave,” the answer is yes. It is not only fair but is the right choice. It may be one of the most difficult choices you ever make but given the current situation, it is necessary. They are not helping you, they are hurting you.

You asked about whether it is petty to be angry with your parents. Your anger is not petty. It is understandable but it is not helpful. It does not provide relief and in fact, it most likely makes you feel more stressed and overwhelmed.

Please try not to be angry with yourself. You are faced with a very challenging situation that most people would have difficulty dealing with. I would highly recommend seeking support from friends or mental health professionals. One idea is to consider seeing a therapist temporarily to help with the difficult challenge of dealing with your parents. Contact your local community mental health center (CMHC) and they may be able to connect you with a therapist. The staff at the CMHC may also help you access health insurance, money for food and clothing, housing support, and other related services. Another idea is to contact Nar-Anon. Nar-Anon provides 12-step support programs for the family members of individuals with drug addiction.

I hope this helps. Please consider writing again and updating me on your situation. I wish you well. Please take care.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Aug 2010

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2010). Should I Ask My Parents To Leave?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/08/21/should-i-ask-my-parents-to-leave/