My mother and stepdad have been having financial issues for a few years now. They also have 3 small children that they need to support. For almost two years I have been lending my mother money, which she pays back at her leisure. About a year and a half ago they had their cars repossessed in which case I ended up having to lend them my car almost full-time. She had agreed to help me make payments on both the car and insurance, and she did for a little while, then it stopped. A few months ago my parents lost their house and had to move in to my place. I have a 3-bedroom townhouse, with my 3 children, and 5 more people moved in. They were supposed to pay half of everything, but they haven’t. I’ve been paying my mothers cellphone bill, the water, electric, cable etc. All on my own, and it’s becoming a huge burden. Since my husband and I are separated, I can’t afford it at all. And I’m behind on all of my bills. Every time I bring up money to my mother she gets mad and calls me ungrateful. The only reason I really have put up with it, is because of my younger siblings who are all still in elementary school. I don’t know how to get my parents to stop taking advantage of me. I rarely ask for anything in return. Occasional babysitting so that I can work, but that is it. I’m in debt, not to mention the emotional stress that I’m under with 6 kids and 3 adults living in a small townhouse. It’s hard to function properly. My mother doesn’t understand the burden she’s put on me, and there is no way to make her understand. She won’t hear it. If I bring anything up how I feel about anything she’s defensive and angry. She throws in my face how she went through hell with me when I was a teenager, like I owe her all the stress that I’ve been under. I’m trying to raise my own family, and it’s been extremely difficult under these conditions. Even my children are being affected by these circumstances. I don’t know what to do anymore.
This isn’t going to change until you make it change. I wish there was an easier answer, but you must not allow your mother’s inability to effectively manage her life ruin what you have built up for yourself and your children. You do not owe your mother anything. You didn’t ask to be brought into the world and you have long since balanced the scales since you were a teenager. At 26 you cannot be in orbit around your mother’s life. Your obligation is to your children and they are not going to get a whole mom if you are carrying this resentment.
Pick a date for your mom and stepdad to leave and explain that this is something that you are committed to. Her anger is only designed to make you feel guilty. Don’t take the bait. Explain that you can’t have her stay and you cannot continue paying. Your mom needs to grow up and move out. Stop paying for her cellphone. Let her be angry—she might need to feel that until she can finally take responsibility for herself.
I am not suggesting you do this tomorrow. But I am suggesting that you explain what your timeline is and do not let up on it. The stress you are under will not go away on its own. You have to stay well for your children and yourself. Your mother’s anger is nothing more than attempt for her to avoid her responsibility. She might profit from Debtors Anonymous – a 12-step group for people in chronic debt. Take care of yourself now, and let your mom have the dignity of having to manage her own problems.
Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: http://www.dare2behappy.com/. He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.
Tomasulo, D. (2018). Parents Are Taking Advantage of Me. Psych Central.
Retrieved on November 26, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/12/30/parents-are-taking-advantage-of-me/
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 30 Dec 2011)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018 Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.