So many family problems


So many family problems


your avatar   Shannon, 15-year-old girl

I haven't lived with my dad since I was 2. My mum married my step-dad when I was 5, and they split up when I was 11 due to constant fighting. We moved house and now I live in a different town. I am constantly being told to babysit and mind my sister who is 7. I do everything around the house and I'm sick of it.

Should I go to school and tell my teacher that I want to go into care? The problem is, if I do my sister will too and I don't want that. What should I do?


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

Shannon my dear,

I know it's hard to be 15. Sometimes, you get treated like you were a kid and couldn't think for yourself, and at the same time, you have responsibilities shoved on you so you feel used up, like a servant. I am wondering though, how your mother is coping. She is now a single parent. Has she got a job? Is she struggling to earn enough money for three people?

Maybe she is under so much stress that she often can't think beyond her own needs and the pressures on her. She probably thinks she is very lucky to have you to help her out. Then of course you resent being a constant housemaid and child-minder, and so there is conflict between the two of you - so bad you want to move out. It is a difficult situation.

To me, the trouble seems to be that you and your mum have got stuck in a pattern where each of you is trying to get as much as possible from the other, and put in as little as you can manage. What the two of you need is to work toward a different pattern. It would be really good if she could think of your needs in the decisions she makes, and if she could do her best to make life enjoyable for you. At the same time, you could do the same, the other way: do whatever you can to make her life as easy and enjoyable as possible.

Imagine life if both of you acted like that. It would then be a pleasure for you to do whatever you could to ease her problems, and this may still mean looking after your sister as you do now, but it would be something you would do with love and joy. And she would go out of her way to enable you to be a teenager, and have as much free time as is possible.

Maybe you can show my answer to you to your mum, and the two of you can work to become a loving, cooperative mother-daughter combination.

Good luck,


This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit:

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