I’m a 17 year old male living with my divorced mother. I’ve started taking RCIA classes, which is why I’ve decided to post this on here, even though my post is unrelated to Catholicism.
More and more, I feel like I have to be the parent in the house. Not because I want to, but because I have to. My mother is a nice enough woman, but doesn’t have the guts to be hated by her 12 year old daughter. She is concerned only with maintaining a friendship between the two of them, even if it means her daughter becomes, frankly, a brat.
Tonight, for example, my mom and I were in the kitchen. She asked me to have my sister feed her bird. So I go to her doorway, and ask her to do it. Melanie (my sister) has loud music on, but I know she can hear me. After several requests, I walk to the computer (which was what was playing the music) and go to pause the music. She slaps me, hits me, and tries to keep me from turning down the music.
Instead of hitting her back or something, I grab her arms together firmly with one hand and turn the volume down with the other. As I do this, she raises my arm to her mouth and bites me with a good amount of force. This is in addition to the yelling which she continues for some time.
I, of course, let her hands go, and notice that my mom has walked in. I ask if she had seen what had taken place, and she says that she had. Any yet… she does nothing. She starts getting ready for bed. I ask her if she is going to punish Melanie-- After all, she did bite me after slapping and hitting me. She says that it was my fault, that she had no choice since I was holding her arms.
I then take things step-by-step with her, explaining what happened. She says over and over that she had seen what happened. So… I go even slower, making her reply to how I acted.
“She wouldn’t respond, so what should I have done besides turning down the volume?”
“She started slapping and hitting me, so what should I have done besides grabbing her arms?”
“She bit me, so I let go. What are you going to do now?”
Melanie is the youngest in the family, and I think my mom feels an automatic compassion for her. My mom was the youngest, and had 4 older brothers who were quite mean to her. I don’t think anyone would say that I am at all mean to Melanie. Whatever the facts, though, my mom always sides with her. Even after she admitted that I acted perfectly, she took no action to correct the situation. Her outlook was, “Well, she’s not biting or hitting now, so lets just move on. She won’t do it again.”
Melanie is constantly disrespectful to both me and, more importantly, my mom. After she bit and hit me, my mom sends her to feed her bird. She yells throughout the activity about why it isn’t fair what I did and how she shouldn’t have to feed the bird and how I shouldn’t hold her arms together and all sorts of other claptrap.
I keep the fourth commandment in mind, but I also feel like “honoring” means telling your parents, respectfully, when they are wrong.
Melanie gets whatever she wants from her, just because she knows she won’t be punished and that my mom will do anything to keep her from being angry. When I point this out, my mom just shrugs it off, generally saying that I’m being disrespectful for trying to correct her.
My grandparents agree with me; They’ve felt the same way about my mother for longer than I have. They’re a bit like her, though-- They’re unwilling to really fight to fix things, although they have talked to her about my sister several times.
The worst part, paradoxically, is that Melanie is, for the most part, fine when she is just around me, or just around the grandparents. Being around Mom gives her more freedom. She knows that without Mom to protect her, neither my grandparents nor myself will allow her to act as she does.
What can I do? I’m terribly frightened about when Melanie really enters her teenage years, and want to try and make her better before it’s too late.