So I can kinda say that my childhood was ok but tough at moments. My father is a lazy alcoholic and he was emotionally absent, my mother loved me a lot but her sharp criticism destroyed my self esteem and the fact that she didn’t care about me very deeply, but only on the surface. Also I grew up poor, so all the things normally kids would have I didn’t have those. However despite all of this, I was happy as a child. It wasn’t until later when I started comparing myself with others that I became depressed. I feel that because of what my life has been like (alcoholic father, growing up poor) it has affected my self esteem a lot and I even have depression. I used to be very ambitious, and even though I’m an A student I don’t feel confident enough to pursue a successful career. Right now the only way that I think would make my life better is to move out of my parents home and start therapy. But that is what gives me great fears and anxiety, that I don’t manage to move out (in my country it is difficult to live alone). In fact people ask me why I don’t go to college, but I only want my own normal life. I feel wounded, sad and my parents are never there to help me with my feelings, they don’t understand me. I love my mother but my heart is full of anger toward her to tell her this. Also I’m bisexual, so I’ve had to keep this a secret for a long time, and I still do. That kinda made me lead a double life where I don’t even talk to my parents anymore. So my question is, should I pursue my dream to move out abroad while I’m 18 or should I go to college and resolve my problems here? (which is impossible).

A. For many years, you were happy and did well in school, in spite of your parents. Developmentally, it is necessary for all individuals to become independent. That means independent of their parents. Essentially it means becoming your own person. You are not an extension of your parents and thus their behavior should have no bearing on your happiness. Understandably, that is easier said than done.

The fact that you were happy and maintained good grades, despite their problems, should give you some confidence. It is evidence of your resiliency. Generally, teenagers have underdeveloped self-esteem. Since self-esteem is developed through life achievements, teenagers are too young to have achieved many successes. They simply haven’t lived long enough. If you were to attend college (should you decide to go) and you continued to succeed, your self-esteem should improve. The more you achieve in life, the more self-confident you will feel.

You asked about counseling. I think that is a very wise idea. Many young people enter counseling because of problematic relationships with their parents. It is a common reason for young people having entered counseling.

Counseling will help you to live independently and to develop a healthy sense of self-esteem. It is also the ideal place to explore how you should proceed with your life. Good luck and please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle