I worry I’m an obligation for my gdmother

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Hello, I am a 15 year old female. To start off I don’t live with my mother of father. My mother is bipolar and my father has tried to get back in my life 5 years ago. At the age of two months old my bilogical grandfather was granted custody of me. My grandfather married my step- grandmother and him married two years before I was born. It feels like ever since I hit age 11 or 12 there has been tension between my grandmother and I. Now, the tension has gotten so bad that I feel unloved by her and that I am just an obligation. It seems like everything I do is wrong to her and she constantly is yelling at me. If I get a bad grade on my test she says I won’t be getting into any college or university. When I am up in my room, I can hear her tell my grandfather that I am ungrateful, greedy, a brat, etc. I have been called the b word by her. I try to do most of chores but, there are times I am forgetful and/ or I don’t do them right, I get yelled at. Basically I am overall yelled at. She buys me things and I say thank you and all and I tell her I love her and all. I just hate all this tension. Oh, and she ignores me at times and she never listens to me when she is listening. We are always arguing and yelling because she thinks she is always right and tries to get her point across. I hate living here because of the tension and I can’t wait to move out in two years since I graduate then. I do feel loved by grandfather and he does stick up for me at times. There are times where I feel like telling my grandfather to take me to the courts so I can be in foster homes. Please help!

A: Thank you for writing. Your letter shows you to be an insightful and sensitive person who really does want things to be better. It sounds to me like your grandmother doesn’t know how to parent someone who is moving out of childhood into the teen years. Although she wants you to do well, to get into college, and to be a responsible person, she doesn’t know how to approach you when you are forgetful or when you are struggling in school.

It might help if you talked to your school guidance counselor. If you attend a church or synagogue, you could also talk to your spiritual leader. Explain the situation and ask if there is someone who could help you and your grandmother understand each other better and learn how to talk to each other without getting mad and frustrated. Do include your grandfather in these discussions. He is probably having trouble dealing with the tension too. It may be there is someone at your school or house of worship who can help. Or they might help you and your family find a family counselor.

Please don’t be embarrassed about needing some counseling. Lots and lots of parents (and grandparents) have difficulty making the transition from parenting a child to parenting a teen. Lots and lots of young teens have difficulty managing the line between wanting more independence and respecting family rules.

I know it’s hard to remember that yelling doesn’t mean you are unloved. It is often a sign of frustration. When all else fails, people often get loud. But I do think frustration is what most of it is about. Remember the love that is underneath all this tension and do your best to work it through. You will all feel much better if you improve your relationships and make your home a more loving place.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2010). I worry I’m an obligation for my gdmother. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 27, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/12/21/i-worry-im-an-obligation-for-my-gdmother/