I live with my two younger sisters, my mother, and my grandparents. I have a few struggles in my life currently (being transgender, a father I refuse to speak to, depression etc), but right now, my living situation is what concerns me. After my mom and dad split up, my mom moved in with my grandparents, who were kind enough to keep us until my mom got a job and an apartment, but we’ve been living with them for nearly two years now, and they are starting to get tired of it. You see, my mom works as an Uber driver, that’s it. She won’t consider another job because she wants to raise my sibling and I full time (we are 16, 13 and 6). My mom too often has a carefree attitude (“everything will work out”) and makes little effort to move forward. She has a boyfriend, who is great, but he isn’t the best with money, and she is unable to commit to finding a place with him. I’m worried, about her and my siblings. I start a part time job soon, which is better than my mom, who can only make enough to buy food. Every time I bring up money she gets stressed and unresponsive. I feel powerless. my father pays her child support every month, but that’s the most he’ll ever do. None of the kids want to see him anymore because he’s abusive, so there’s no help there. I want to know if there is anything I can do or say that will get my mom to become proactive, I want help. (From the USA)
I am deeply moved by your desire to help the family. Normally, I would encourage someone 16 to worry more about finding ways to take care of themselves — and plan to move out or on to college. But there are several differences in your situation that I believe warrant something other than a more standard reaction. Your father’s abuse triggered a family response. Your grandparents took you all in and your mom did what she could do for money and put the focus on her children. Each of these responses is, considering the situation, wonderful.
The tipping point in your reaction is the level of appreciation and understanding. You value your grandparents, your mother, your mother’s boyfriend, and have a sense of deep caring for your siblings. At the same time you recognize that you have a plan of your own, and that each of the people around you has limitations.
In this instance I would look to find assistance in the form of counseling, vocational guidance, and housing for your mom and your siblings. The best place to begin is with agencies that are known in your area like this http://www.downtownwomenscenter.org/health. They are woven into the community and while they might not be the right ones to deliver exactly what you need — they can certainly point your family in the right direction for getting help.
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.
APA Reference Tomasulo, D. (2018). Worried about My Family. Psych Central.
Retrieved on November 18, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2017/07/23/worried-about-my-family/
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 23 Jul 2017) Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018 Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.