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Parents Taking Advantage of Me

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Financial issues has been an issue for my family since I can remember.

After 3 college semesters, my parents couldn’t pay for my school because of their other bills. I had to find a job to help and pay off my debt. After 6 months of emotional/physical abuse because I had no job and was considered a burden, I got 2 part time jobs then my first real job 4yrs later. I was happy to be able to help my family then. It initially felt good. I worked a lot of OT and decided at 26, that I wanted to move out. The rent was too high. My parents flipped and basically said I couldn’t move out. I couldn’t help them. If I didn’t live with them. Then they told me my dad needed heart surgery at the last minute and they needed my help.

After my dad’s surgery he took about 6 months to recover. I thought he’d look for a job but no.

Now 3 years later, my father still refuses to find a job. My mother hasn’t worked in about 15yrs and makes excuses about her knees hurting and not being able to speak English well enough to find a job.

Last year they told me they had no money and couldn’t pay their bills. I would need to do it and it would be really hard for me. This was while I took on a new career and pay cut.

The rent is more now more than one paycheck. I have my car payment, insurance, credit card, student loans, gas, etc. Plus my parents car payment and credit card and cellphones for the whole family. They recently had their van repossessed and I paid $1700 to get it back. That was a mistake. They said they would sell the van and pay me back and I think that was a lie. I have almost no savings and almost maxed out my credit card because of the bills.

I can’t stand being at home and seeing my parents. They even got mad because I took the spare key for my car and they can’t drive it anymore.

I don’t know what to do. I get angry about the situation and try to confront them, but they get mad and then I end up feeling guilty, but at the same time this isn’t right.

Parents Taking Advantage of Me

Answered by on -

A.

It does seem as though your parents may be taking advantage of you. They have slowly wrapped their lives around yours. In the beginning, it seemed as though they legitimately needed your help. Your father needed heart surgery and couldn’t work. It was fair of them to ask for your help when they needed it. Now, it seems as if they may be asking too much of you. Proof of this is the instability of your own financial life.

There are certain things that are fair to ask you and there are certain things that are not. For them to ask you to pay their car payment, credit card bills and the cell phone bill for the whole family seems like too much. To solve this problem, you will have to change your behavior.

You’re right about the van. You probably shouldn’t have paid for it because it’s unlikely that they will pay you back. It’s fine to help your family when you can afford it, but it’s not fine to sacrifice your own financial stability.

You mentioned feeling guilty. You should only feel guilty if you have done something wrong. You have done nothing wrong. To ask your family to pay their own bills is not something for which you should feel guilty. They can work but are choosing not to. Instead, they are choosing to rely on you. They could be doing more for themselves.

You said that your father “refuses” to find a job, as does your mother. The question to ask yourself is this: would they be working if you were not paying their bills? The answer very likely would be, yes. They don’t work because they don’t have to. They have you to pay their bills. They rack up credit card bills because you pay them. They take advantage of you, in part, because you are enabling them to continue doing so.

They likely know that you are good-natured person who struggles to say no to them. That makes you susceptible to their guilt trips. They take advantage of you because they can.

They wouldn’t take advantage of you if you did not allow it. If you were not susceptible to their guilt trips, they couldn’t use them on you. Going forward, if you want to change the financial dynamic in your family, you are going to have to make some changes. It’s not going to be easy. They’re going to be upset. They’ve grown accustomed to you taking care of them. They’re probably going to attempt to make you feel guilty, as they’ve always done. But you’re going to have to resist. If you can’t resist, then this problem will continue.

It would be best to assess the situation and determine what you will pay for and what you will not pay for. You may want to consult a therapist to assist you in this process. It’s likely not going to be an easy process, especially because of the inappropriate guilt you may feel in making these changes.

A therapist would also help you with the psychological aspects of becoming more independent and developing clear boundaries for interacting with your family. The more support and guidance you have throughout this process, the easier it will be to disentangle yourself from this situation. Thank you for your question. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

Parents Taking Advantage of Me

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2019). Parents Taking Advantage of Me. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 8, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2019/11/22/parents-taking-advantage-of-me/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 21 Nov 2019 (Originally: 22 Nov 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 21 Nov 2019
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.