I can't take living at home anymore

Hi there,

I’m a seventeen year old girl (going to be a senior in HS) and I can’t take living at home anymore. My dad has Parkinson’s, and my parents keep trying to hide it from me. You know how I found out? My mom and I rented Back to the Future, and I was talking about how Micheal J Fox was a big Parkinson’s disease research supporter and my mom goes “Oh! You know who else has that? your dad.” I don’t know about me, but that is not a good way to tell someone. And I didn’t find out till I was 14 too. Nobody ever talks about it and we try to act like everything’s fine, but it’s not. My mom is the type of person who has to control everything, and I seriously think that she’s trying to control my life because she has no control of my dad’s. She keeps critizizing me all the time and she makes me feel like I’m a bad kid. I never hear “Good job Katie” unless it’s in front of people. I just get “You did good but you could be better in this this and this way.” She’s told me that I’m ugly and fat before. She gets angry at me over the slighest things. Like just now I was helping her in the kitchen and she was putting some seasoned chicken in a Ziploc bag, and some of the spices got in the zipper so I couldn’t close it. I tell her that, and she throws the bag on the other cabinet and goes “WELL NOW CLOSE IT OVER THERE. YOU’RE SO DISRESPECTFUL!”
She also tells me quite often that I’m going to hell. She says that I’m not a good Christian and that I can’t think going to Confession will help me.
I went talk to a priest yesterday and he told me to keep in mind that my mom loves me and that I love her too and to pray the rosary every day for paitence in this, but I really can’t take living at this house for another year. She’s not the only one in my family like that either. I can’t talk to her anymore, just about insignificant things. I’m discerning a religious vocation, and I would love to tell her, but I don’t know if I can.

Well, thanks for reading. Any advice or prayers is appreciated.


I’m so sorry things are difficult for you. I will be praying for you.

I don’t know what you’re going through, but I will tell you I had a very difficult time living with my father when I was in high school. He was not a nice guy to me, and I was miserable. My faith is the only thing that got me through that time.

It seems to me that your mother may be having difficulty with your father’s illness, so she’s taking it out on you. I’m sure she doesn’t mean to. I could just be that the stress of what’s happening–and her inability to do anything about it–is too much.

I’m sure she loves you. She’s just not sure how to handle everything.

I think you should tell her you’re discerning a religious vocation. Maybe faith is what she needs right now. Maybe knowing how strong your faith is, she can find strength in her own.

I will be praying for your family.

I know this isn’t much in terms of advice, but I hope that in some small way, it helps.

I can understand why you can’t take it anymore. You are really lucky though that you have the perspective to see just how wrong and abusive this type of behavior is. Imagine what it would be like if you took all of her insults to heart. Although, it is still tough because I know that even though you understand the issue intellectually, it’s quite another thing to know it emotionally, and everytime your mother tears into you, she continues to hurt you.

At this point I would look into ways of developing relationships outside of your home.

  1. Try to get counseling. Talk to your school counselor if you need to.
  2. Vounteer or work somewhere (this will give you some time away from home and will help you develop the resources to be independent)
  3. Work on a plan to get into college somewhere away from home

Your priest is right. Pray for your mother. It isn’t easy to watch someone you love suffer and become disabled. She is probably also totally scared, and fear is largely what is behind most anger.

You sound like you really have your head together for someone so young. Hang in there! Praying for you.

Offer your suffering for the souls in Purgatory. We have the amazing gift of redemptive suffering which allows those painful things we go through (both physically and emotionally) to unite us with Christ’s suffering. Read St. Therese of Lisieux’s The Story of a Soul. There was a nun who didn’t like St. Therese all that much and yet people thought they were best friends because St. Therese never said anything unkind to her, didn’t complain and was very charitable.

And I don’t think it is wrong to ask your mother not to say such mean things. Tell her that it hurts your feelings. You can still be respectful even if you are honest.

Good luck!

Dear Jeanne ,
I know this can be hard, very hard, as you describe so well.
May I humbly suggest that you bear it for the little remaining time you have with them-you are 17 and will probably be leaving in a year or two anyway.

I KNOW this is a form of suffering you are going thru now.
Please consider that your suffering DOES have immense value if you unite it with the suffering of Our Lord.
Please consider offering your pain in all this to God,for the souls in PURGATORY, for all in your family, for MANY things…

Please consider also that you have a huge opportunity for generosity here toward your parents.

When you think you just cannot give anymore, that you have reached the human limit of your generosity, ask Our Lady to help you bear with them. She had the ultimate experience of bearing pain for the sake of her family.

If you need to see the ultimate example of Generosity, spend some time in front of the Crucifix.

May God bless you with courage !

Hi Katie, I’m sorry that you, too, are going through this. I am the same way, though blessed to be two years older and in college. My mother was emotionally abusive for many years, I went through almost all the same things you did. But, my mom was that way because it was how SHE grew up, too. If this is a new thing with your mother, be patient, especially if your father isn’t doing well, but remember, this is YOUR life, too, and you can be scarred for life because of this.

Try to get into counselling, it’s helped me more than anything. Do you have a grandparent that you could live with to finish up high school if things either stay this bad or get worse?

Protect yourself, but be careful, because when things tend to get really bad, depression and/or a lack of having feelings can set in.

Prayers that things will get better.

Jeanne- about how you found out your dad had parkinsons. Sometimes people get overlooked when a problem is diagnosed. You may have been too young to tell. Or you could have been a pre-occupied kid the first time your mom told you and you really just didn’t hear her. I know people who this has happened to and I’d not be so quick to blame this on your mom being thoughtless. She may have just thought you knew.
I’d also respect her on not whanting to talk about it. If you want to know go to the library or ask your mom if you can take your dad to his next dr appointment. For that matter have a one-on-one with your dad if that’s still possible.

You didn’t mention how much housework you do, but your mom may also be trying to balance all the work she has to do, taking care of your dad and likely trying to make sure your childhood isn’t ruined by having to care for your dad every minute. She may also think that she’s being helpful by giving you criticizm. She may fear that she may not be there for you and you’ll be left an orphan with no one to help you. So she’s getting in all parenting…good and bad…right now.

I wouldn’t advise to run far away to college. Not just yet. See if you can find a counceller or a priest and let them help you decide what is best for your family. You do have a right to your own life, but you also don’t want to regret leaving your father or burn the bridge between you and your mother.

She’s acting unacceptably right now. You need guidance from a nearby source, not internet strangers.

Talk to aunts, uncles, cousins, and get their input. If your mom won’t talk don’t be afraid to. Her reaction will determine yours.

I’m the 53-year-old mom of two grown daughters (ages 24 and 27).

Unlike some of the other posters on this board, I would have no objection to your moving out. I believe that a seventeen-year-old young woman is capable of living on her own away from home.

But…I advise you to come up with an “action plan” before you move out. If you can’t come up with an action plan, then you are not ready to move out, and I advise taking the advice of many of the people on this board and learning other ways to deal with your problems at home.

Here’s what your action plan should include.

How will you earn money? Will you be able to earn enough to meet your basic needs (food, shelter, warmth, transportation, medical, etc.)

Or will you have to go on public aid? This would be, frankly, despicable, since you have a family who is willing to give you financial support. Remember that the taxpayers (like me and your parents) are the ones who provide the money for public aid. I don’t mind someone getting help who has no where else to turn. But when someone walks away from food, clothing, shelter, etc.–I have a bit of a problem with that.

Where will you live? Will you have roommates, and who will they be? Will the place be in a fairly safe, crime-free (no prostitution, no drug deals, no gangs, etc.) neighborhood?

Will you move in with another relative, perhaps grandparents, or aunt/uncle, or cousins, and if so, will this create irreparable warfare in the family, or will it bring relief and peace to your family?

Will you continue to go to school? IMO, if you have to quit school to move out, then you shouldn’t move out. School is of utter importance for a woman in the U.S. today.

Is there a boy involved? I suspect not, because you mentioned discerning a religious vocation. But if there is a boy involved, then you should NOT move out to spend more time with him unless he is willing to marry you and support you.

As for the religious vocation–it seems to me that one of the characteristics of someone who is in religious life is submission and docility. Perhaps living at home in a very unpleasant situation is God’s way of preparing you for a life in which submission and docility will be required daily.

I want to let you know that every family has its weaknesses and problems. There are no perfect families, although many of us manage to have very pleasant homes and train up our children well, and take pleasure in being together. But even in these “good” families, there are still problems. Please don’t think that you are the only teenager to live in a bad situation at home. There are many families who are in a lot worse straits.

One thing I agree with that others are telling you is to seek counselling. If you can’t afford a counselor, I’m guessing that your priest can refer you to an older godly Catholic woman who will meet with you over coffee or a Coke and try to help you to handle your family situation.

You are in a situation where you can learn a lesson that some adults never learn, and that lesson is that you can’t run away from your problems. Yes, sometimes you have to leave–to try to deal with certain problems (e.g., violent abuse, sexual abuse, etc.) will kill you in the end. But in most cases, the best way to deal with problems in life is to face them head-on and learn how to deal with them and hopefully make the best of them and even redeem them for the Kingdom of God. By leaving home, you are running away. By staying in the house with your family, you are learning how to deal with great difficulties.

You are running the gauntlet. Simply put you need to get through this. When you do, you will be stronger for it. Family members often get a thought into their mind about how things ought to be and they are not happy unless you live up to their expectations. It doesnt matter what you do, they will always likely get down on you. Its just how people act in a family environment. My younger cousin can never find a girl that is acceptable to his sisters and mother. They reject, often times cruelly, just about every girl he brings home. They have an idea of what they want for him but it is not realistic. Likewise, your mother probably has great dreams for you and a way she wants you to live. When you dont measure up, there is little you can do other than stand up for yourself. The more you stand up for yourself, the less they will try to run all over you.

Also, family members tend to take out their problems on those they see as being weaker or more vulnerable. If you fight back a little, this would go away. Even though we are called to be obedient to our parents, we are also not called to be doormats. If they overstep their boundaries, we need to stand our ground.

Whatever vocation you choose, your family will have to live with it. In the end, it is your vocation. God calls you to do something. This is more important than to appease a family that is not very committed to the faith. As much as your family should be committed to the faith, the reality is that it will take many prayers and sacrifices by you, the religious daughter, to make that happen. If they will not be committed to the faith, at some point you have to continue on with your vocation regardless of what they are doing.

Jeanne: I’m so sorry you’re going through this.

I would encourage you to go through the Scripture and find those passages or verses that will help comfort you through this time. There are many verses I have read that give me great peace. There also are excellent examples of people who suffered that God later elevated to greatness. Outside of Scripture, reading about the lives of the saints also could be helpful. Many of these men and women suffered great hardships in their lives. God later used this suffering for His higher purpose.

Still, I realize you are just a young woman. What you’re dealing with is hard. I’m a mother myself and reading your story makes me so sad. Please realize you are a child of God, Jeanne, created in His image. That alone gives you worth! Nothing your mother has said, is saying or will ever say is going to change that.

Peace and prayers for you.

Dear Jeanne,

I do not have the answers to your problem, nor much advice…but I will pray for you and your family. I have gone thru some tough things in my life, and as soon as I think I’ve gone thru the toughest thing anyone could ever go thru, I encounter another issue, a much tougher one. But I’m trying to give it to God. What worked for me: I went to church on my lunchbreak when nobody else was there, knelt down before the cross, asked for forgiveness of any wrong i have done, cried as much as my heart would let me, and gave it all to God! Put it in his hands. Trust in him that he will take care of you. Pray for your mother, that He will touch her and open up her heart. I have no doubt that deep down your mother loves you, she may not show it or know how to deal with everything that is going on. Another thing that helped me, I prayed the chaplet of divine mercy. I prayed alot. I prayed for patience. I prayed for guidance. I prayed for healing. I prayed that God’s will be done. Pray, pray, pray, pray, pray, and then pray some more, and you’ll be alright. Things don’t always turn out the way we want, but God will meet our needs. May you find comfort in the Lord during this difficult time. God Bless You!

"Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." (MT 9:13)

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, Ora Pro Nobis Peccatoribus!


You are right about that. When things are like what you are describing, you have to fall back on living one day at a time.

“A mild answer calms wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger…
A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse one crushes the spirit.
The fool spurns his father’s admonition, but prudent is he who heeds reproof…
Better a dish of herbs where love is than a fatted ox and hatred with it.
An ill-tempered man stirs up strife, but a patient man allays discord…
A wise son makes his father glad, but a fool of a man despises his mother…
A cheerful glance brings joy to the heart; good news invigorates the bones.
He who listens to salutary reproof will abide among the wise.
He who rejects admonition despises his own soul, but he who heeds reproof gains understanding.
The fear of the LORD is training for wisdom, and humility goes before honors.”
Proverbs 15: 1, 4-5,17-18, 20,30-33

No, I am not going to tell you that your mother is entitled to the kind of outburst you described. That was just uncalled for. The question is: What is the wisest way to deal with it?

So, you say your mom had control issues, and now she is trying to cope with having a husband with Parkinson’s, which is going to take her life out of her control, bit by bit. When put that way, I think you can see that this is not a recipe for a peaceful household. Her world has just been turned upside down, which would be very difficult for anyone to deal with. Your mother does not do upside down. If I am not mistaken, she really has no idea how to cope with this. She is in the Land of Alice and Wonderland, and it is not an adventure. It is a nightmare.

Where does this lead you? Try to go the “third way”. Learn to respond in ways that diffuse stress.

For instance, your mom does not know how to use the word “but”. When you use the word “but”, you leave the most important thing for last.
Compare and contrast:
“You did good BUT you could be better in this this and this way”
You could be better in this this and this way BUT you did good. "

Can you hear the difference? The first is criticism in which the praise is incidental, while the second is praise in which the criticism is incidental.

So when you talk to your mom (and you should) about things that bother you, recognize her stress by using the “but” correctly:

“I didn’t know whether to be angry or scared or both about the thing you just did with the chicken, but I don’t want to be part of the problem. I know you’re upset, but that is not like you. Mom, are you OK?”

Your mother is reading things into your words, whether you meant to put them there or not. If you put an impudent tone in your words, be aware that she has no resources to cope with those. If not, be very careful to clarify your intent if she does that. “Mom, I’m sorry you felt offended. I had no intention of showing you disrespect. Are you OK?”

Is it fair that you have to do this? No, it isn’t, and it is going to be stressful for you to have to walk on eggshells. Ask the priest you talked to help you find counselling, because you’re going to need more than rosaries to get through this with your relationship with your mom intact. As your dad’s condition worsens, she is going to need a good relationship with you, even as she is messing it up by her short-tempered outbursts. With counselling, you might be able to keep her from ruining things between you. That could have a payoff for you that could last a lifetime.

A counsellor will also help you to identify when or if your situation really is one you have to get out of immediately, and how to do that. You can use your pastor or another trusted adult as a second opinion

Don’t go through this without the help of an adult with experience in family issues. It will be a great gift to all of your family, not just you.

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