My Mum Always Beats Me

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Reader’s Question

My name is Rana, and I’m 17. I’m having trouble with my family. My dad doesn’t live with me, and my mum always beats me — really hard. She treats me like a 7-year-old, and I hardly leave the house.

I’m just wondering: how can I build a better relationship with my mum so she can like me more? I mean, I’m her daughter…and she hates me. I’m always alone. Can you help?

Psychologist’s Reply

Rana, it’s very admirable that your first concern is to build a better relationship with your mum. At your age, you need her, and you still hope for a loving relationship with her. Perhaps there is a way to accomplish it. Knowing as little about you as we do, it’s hard to imagine things improving without her willing participation. But don’t lose hope. Let’s talk about this for a moment.

Are you familiar with the laws in your country and culture regarding the fair treatment of children (individuals under the age of 18)? I am not an expert in your culture (or even aware of where you are writing from) and fear to say something that would be wrong or offensive to you. In the American culture, however, what you describe would easily be described as child abuse. If it is the same in your culture, then the first call to make would be to the agency which is the analogue of what we refer to as Child Protective Services. In a situation such as this, they would dispatch a team to your home and rescue you.

It is always the primary goal of protective services to reunite a family as soon as there is no imminent risk of danger to the child. That is, they wish to keep you separated from your family for as briefly as possible. To do that, they may require your mother to take parenting classes and have supervised visitation before allowing you to return without being monitored for your safety. Therapy is another thing that would certainly be required of her. With that level of mandatory intervention, it’s most likely that your mum could turn around and treat you more kindly. They may also investigate other relatives to see if you could live with them for the remainder of your time as a minor. Regardless of the temporary placement you would find yourself in, you would be safe, without beatings, without being held in the home without the freedom to go out and go to school, and to try to advance yourself personally and professionally.

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Often, people hesitate to make the call for protection because they’re afraid that bad things will happen to their mum. I’ve seen interventions like this many times, and I can tell you, the interventions are for the best of the family, especially for you.

If you do hesitate to call them, is there another relative whom you could call and relay your desperate situation to? Would that call be easier to make?

The alternative from this perspective is to work with the fact that you are 17 and nearing adulthood. You will soon be an independent adult and can make decisions for yourself. I encourage you to think about the choices you would make as an adult. Consider how those choices will best serve you and most quickly serve you.

Finally, in this culture, there is a process of becoming an “Emancipated Minor”. An emancipated minor is given the full rights of adulthood before they turn 18. To emancipate, you must be able to demonstrate that you could support yourself without becoming dependent on the government. One way of demonstrating independence is by joining the military. You may wish to explore this option, if it is available in your country.

My best hope for you now, Rana, is to help you to safety. It may be easier for your mum to relate to you more respectfully, if not lovingly, when you live on your own and are an equal and independent adult.

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