Parents Can’t Wait for Me to Be 18 So I’ll Be On My Own

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Reader’s Question

I will be 18 in August. I live with my mom, dad, and older sister who is at college. Unfortunately, I feel like I don’t belong in my family. No matter what I do, or how hard I try to connect with them, it just doesn’t work.

Since I was about 10, my mother has always said things to me like I am “just a stupid n***er” and that she can’t wait for me to turn 18 so I’ll be on my own. I have always asked myself what did I do at such a young age for my mother to not support me in the way she does my sister. I notice that whenever she is around my sister, she is happy. I’m hurt but not stupid. It’s very clear to me that she really has no love for me or desire to support me at all.

What can I do? Even when I do nothing wrong, to her I have done something wrong. When I’m not home she goes through my stuff. She doesn’t knock on my bedroom door when its closed — ever! I just don’t get it or know what to do.

My dad isn’t really there for me as much as he should be. I don’t blame him as much due to certain circumstances, but even he shows the same feelings toward me as my mom.

I’m not a bad kid. I play soccer. I get As and Bs in my classes. I just want to live my life — not theirs. They always compare what I do to what they used to do when they were kids, and it sickens me because in the end I’m always getting put down, and my hopes are always shot out of the sky because they say I will never be anything or do anything with myself.

I don’t want their love. I don’t need it. All I want is for them to treat me like an individual.

What can I do?

Psychologist’s Reply

There’s probably a lot more going on within your family than would be possible to accurately assess or address in a forum like this. So, if possible, it would be a good idea for you to assert yourself and broach the issue of family counseling.

Something you can do, even in the absence of counseling, is to honestly deal with your feelings. Understandably, you are hurt. But it’s also likely that you both want and need your parents’ love, approval, affection, and support, which is probably why you are so hurt. Try letting your feelings be known in a calm but direct and non-hostile way. Let people know what you need from them. You can do this in ways that are straightforward but not provocative or disrespectful.

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Remember that regardless of their views on how to best motivate you or other reasons for engaging in it, certain kinds of demeaning talk, like the kind you described earlier, are simply unacceptable. Remember also, that when someone else is engaging in such talk, it’s not about you or your worth as a person, but about them and their inability or unwillingness to be more caring and conscientious in their efforts to satisfy their desires or to assist you in satisfying yours. Abusive conduct in any form, including demeaning verbal or emotional communication, is just not okay.

In the end, it is you who will need to affirm and support yourself as you enter adulthood. Someday, you may also be a parent and your children will look to you for the same guidance, support, and affirmation you seek now. You can learn best how to do this by giving yourself the very things you say you neither want nor need from your parents.

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