My mother and I have always had a great relationship. We do things together, hang out, have fun, everything. Until I found out she was cheating on my father. I started to get worried, and I did something kind of horrible. I looked through her email. And I found…disturbing things. I freaked out. I turned to my best friend for help by text message. My mom read my phone messages. She saw that I had gone in her email and “humiliated her” to my friend. Now she won’t speak to me, at least not without being spiteful. She makes snarky comments about what a brat I am, about how it’s always my fault. Even about things as little as where the cord for the computer went. She threatens to leave us. She says she’s sick of everybody. My dad doesn’t know the details, only that we aren’t speaking. My mom tells me that I should start getting used to the idea of not having a mother. I want to tell her how much she is hurting me, but she always make me out to be the bad guy. Apparently I “have crushed and killed” her. It was one discussion with my friend, of 8 years, who she knows very well, about my feelings. I thought this would all blow over, but it’s been days. My sister, who is currently in rehab, is helping me through everything. She’s trying to keep me from going where she did, telling me that mom only said stuff out of anger and she didn’t mean it. I think she did. She only commands me to do things now. “I’m going to bed. Let the dogs out.” “Help me with the computer” “Let the dog in.” “Clean off the stuff on the steps.” That’s the most cooperative conversation we have had, without tears or shouting, in two days. I can’t talk it. I don’t think we can come back to our old relationship, she even says to me all the time “you ruined our relationship.” I can’t take this. Please help. I’m worried she might try doing something to hurt herself, and I’m scared. Being 13 and going through this…. it’s awful.

A: You need to talk to your counselor at school. At 13 this is a lot to manage on your own and I am very glad you wrote us here. Your mom’s reaction and behaviors are at the core of the problem. While looking through her emails wasn’t the best way to confirm your concerns, the bottom line is that you were confirming what you had suspected — so your mother’s behavior had already been suspicious.

Parents can sometimes do and say things that can be hurtful to their children, but you do not have to tolerate this without support. I would talk to the counselor at your school and perhaps a favorite teacher about your situation. They are the people who can help you get the support you need.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral