Honoring my mother.

I don’t see how I can do it. Past asking for her permission to do something that would require it, or obeying her when she forbids or tells me to do something, I don’t see how I can possible honor her.
She is a single mom, I’ll give her that, but still she’s beyond lazy. If anyone cleans anything in the house, it’s me, and I normally only clean up after myself because my family is 100% capable of cleaning up after themselves and I refuse to do it for them. Because of this, our house is disgusting. The laundry room smells like a dumpster, I literally was gagging this morning walking through it, my mom won’t take the garbage to the dump(and I can’t drive yet). There are spills all over the floor which never got cleant up in the kitchen, and there is a corner that has been piling with junk for 3 years, and it’s all hers and my sister’s.
Last April we got new furniture and repainted our living room, and my mom started to repaint our front door-it’s been half painted since then. Even though we have new furniture in our living room though, it’s still pretty bad because my siblings and mom eat there, and will leave their plates and drinks/cups there where they start to grow mold…at which point I get disgusted and clean it up for them. My sister also drags out all of her toys, and destroys the living room and my mom doesn’t make her clean it up.
She’s “too tired” to do anything involving getting off of the couch, until about 11:00 pm when she goes out with her boyfriend and her friends and gets drunk-leaving me with my 4 year old sister to babysit.
Earlier tonight I tried was trying to clean the kitchen because it was so repulsive, and I told my sister to pick up all of her stuff-whatever was left on the floor would be swept up and was going in the trash. When I threw away some stick thing she got at a birthday party, she started screaming bloody murder, ran to my mom, who dug the thing out of the trash can to stop her from crying. I couldn’t believe she did that, and obviously that was showing because then my mom went off on her usual rant-
“She’s a single mom, she has a job, I’m an unappreciative brat, I never do anything, I get everything I want, I’m disrespectful, I think I’m better than everyone else, etc”.
It pisses me off. If she has enough energy to go party every night, she has enough energy to get off of her *** and clean. I never ask her for anything because I know money’s tight, and I know that I’ll never hear the end of how spoilt I am if I ask for anything from her. She has the impression that because I converted to Catholicism and disapprove of pre marital sex and birth control and I go to church every week that I’m “holier than thou”, or the fact that I actually care about school and work hard because I want to get out of this place that I’m stuck up.
Honestly I think the best I can do is to avoid her as much as possible, but when I try that, she sends me on a guilt trip complaining that I don’t talk to her enough.
I just don’t see how I can “honor” her both internally and externally. :frowning:

Primarily you honor her by treating her with the respect that is due her position as your mother, regardless of whether she has earned your respect as a woman.

So you can ask her to do something, but you can’t call her a slob or lazy to her face (or anywhere where people know who you are talking about–anonymous internet doesn’t count). It’s OK to disagree with her, but not OK to treat her with disrespect. You can say, “I know you work hard, but it’s really hard for me to keep this place clean by myself and I’d really like some help. Maybe we could set aside one evening a week to clean in or something like that?” You can’t say, “If you have enough energy to go party every night, you have enough energy to get off of your *** and clean.”

It would also be a good idea to make sure you tell her that your feelings about cleanliness have nothing to do with your conversion. We don’t need more reasons for people to hate Catholicism. :slight_smile:

What it comes down to (and anyone who’s had roommates is familiar with this) is that the person who cares if things are clean has to do the cleaning. It’s annoying, but even if you have agreements with your roommates going in, it still happens. People who don’t care about mess generally can’t clean properly. So you really have two choices–clean it yourself, or stop allowing yourself to be upset by it. Well really, you have three choices–the two I just mentioned, or you can go crazy. That’s an option too. :slight_smile:

The benefit to the “clean it yourself” option (aside from any health benefits of course) is that if your sister grows up in a clean place, she is more likely to be a clean person later and she may start helping out, especially if you don’t ask her to. I’ve never been able to manage the “stop allowing myself to be upset by it” option, but I have been told it can be done. :smiley:


Yep. Absolutely. If I ever have to choose a roommate again, I’ll never forget that one.

Having said that, OP, you might want to talk this over with your pastor, youth group leader, or a teacher or a counsellor at school about how to navigate your home life. With a situation that chaotic, you need an adult on your side, if only for moral support. You can role play with this adult about what ways of talking to your mother are and aren’t going to be a) respectful and b) even slightly likely to have a positive result. (Let’s be serious: “…get off of her *** and clean…”? Would that impress you to take up new habits? Maybe you’re just venting, but you’re smart enough to realize you are not the supreme commander, here. You don’t control your mom, and you never will. You have to convince the person who is *your *superior to get on board with some plan of action or other, not give her orders.)

By the way, in the future…avoid getting too draconian with the consequences for your siblings and whatever you do don’t throw away anything remotely sentimental that belongs to someone else, not even penny knick-knacks from birthday parties! That is asking for trouble. It is better to dump offending stuff on the offender’s bed than to dump it in the garbage. This will get you ready for when you are a mom, and you have to pick your battles. Trust me, throwing out keepsakes isn’t one of them. Fifty years later, people remember stuff like that from their childhoods, even though if the incident had never happened the knick knack would have been forgotten in a matter of weeks.

If you want these siblings of yours on your side when your mother is old and you all have to see to her, treat them accordingly. Again: convince, motivate, lead. You’ll live to thank yourself.

Most importantly, though: Find that adult to talk to in real time. You have a serious situation here, and you deserve serious help. Go find it.

Teenage Convert, I applaud you for choosing to follow the Catholic faith. Bless you child. I read previous postings. I agree with them 100%. You show strength beyond your years. You are the adult in your family & your Mom is the child figure. Your sister will one day grow up and respect you, believe me. As for your Mom… I will pray for her. She needs to wake up from negativity in her behavior & moral responsibilities. The power of prayer is the answer in your situation. I will also pray for you to continue to be the role model of your family. Don’t loose faith in that what you do goes unappreciated. God knows your efforts & you are a blessed child. Sometimes it takes an army of one to accomplish the incredible. There is always a good apple in the rotten bunch. You will gain a place of honor with God for taking care of your household from what you previously posted. Do not dispair. Strangers like me DO care for your struggles. Clean for your peace of mind. Once your family members start to notice that you are relentless in keeping your home clean, they will like the way things look & want to keep it that way. Please do not disrespect your Mother in belittling her & voicing your anger. It will only get worse & your Mom will intentionally not cooperate in order to anger you more. Instead, continue to keep your area clean & make it as livable as possible, yes for the sake of your health & well being. Peace be with you. Here goes my prayers for you, your sister & Mom. I will pray for them to respect you, your efforts & for their total support of changing their ways. Please know that I am in a similar position in that I am temporarily disabled & I too am the only person in my household of 4 family members that cleans!!! The power of prayer is great in the name of God.

The crux of the problem. She’s probably more hung over than tired. See if you can get to an Alateen meeting, it’s a support group for the children of alcoholics. Al-Anon/AlateenIt won’t cure your mom but it will give you some good tools to deal with her until you can get out. I don’t know what to do about your little sister - at 4 years old, she’s in a very bad place to be, with a mom who is probably an alcoholic. But you have to put your own oxygen mask on before you can save anyone else.

Yes…Alateen is a good idea. She doesn’t have to have her mom’s actual alcohol consumption diagnosed for that to be helpful, either. Regardless of her actual consumption, the mother is asking the daughter to enable abdication of her parenting responsibilities (which going out for one’s own entertainment and leaving the kids to fend for themselves more than occasionally certainly is).

At the OPs age, though, I think she needs to find a stable adult to help her with that oxygen. Everyone in the same household with an alcoholic (or a neglecting provider…we don’t need an argument with Mom here to make our point) needs outside support, but especially teens who are plunged into a position of responsibility without adequate parental support. Her pastor, a trusted teacher, her youth group leader, relatives, and preferably all of the above…the OP ought to feel very free to be persistent in finding as many stable adults to support her as she can muster.

As for the struggle to hold her in honor, alcoholism is a disease and self-indulgence is a moral fault that are not best mended through condemnation and shaming by others. It is the action that is the fault. The person is still worthy of respect, and worthy of the self-respect of doing better. Even as we exercise the tough love of holding others to be responsible and refusing to enable their bad choices, we do best when we maintain the loving attitude that they most of all deserve to be at their best, and to live up to their identity as a creature made in the image and likeness of God.

This is all too much for a teen to do alone, especially a young teen. She really needs outside support, and from those she can look in the eye.

Yes, OP, EasterJoy is right. Is there anyone you can trust, to help you get to an Alateen meeting? You will learn tools such as detaching with love, which ties back to honoring your mother without enabling her actions. I hope you have an aunt, an uncle, an older sister, a cousin, or a family friend who can help you.

Honoring an alcoholic usually means that you have to take care of yourself, not hate them because they have a disease, but not allow them to drag you under along with them. A drowning man and an alcoholic/addict will both drag you under and drown you along with them, unless you have tools to deal with the situation.

God bless you.

Even if your mom is always the designated driver, OP, she is still abdicating responsibility in a big way and so TheRealJuliane’s advice still applies. Whether or not your mom is literally an alcoholic, get yourself some outside help and realize that the lessons of Alateen and books like “Co-dependent No More” (which many libraries have) can be very useful to anyone who is put into a position where they are confronted with consistently damaging behaviors that ought not be enabled. But don’t stop with books and Alateen. Build yourself a support network outside your home, a support network that includes adults.

Don’t go it alone and don’t depend on just one adult to come through for you. Round up as much adult help as you can find, especially those with a pastoral stake in your life, such as your pastor and the staff at your school, and let them help you navigate the very difficult situation you have at home. A strong support network can make such a big difference! Your mom may even have mental health issues that remain to be diagnosed. We’re not here to condemn your mother. We’re here to help you find the help you need to go forward in a postive way, for your sake, for your mom’s and for the whole family, because you are describing a family that needs help. The sooner you get that outside help to support you through this, the better.

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