Looking for advice on my parents


#1

Hi everyone,

I've posted about my family situation before, but I think I can talk about it more objectively now, so I'm interested to get a few more opinions.

I'm 16 and I have a brother who's 19. Here's some of the stuff that's going on:

-- my dad will go crazy over the smallest things (ex. I lost my phone for a week for "not communicating" well-enough about staying after church to do homework before religious ed. And I DID tell them I planned to do that. Another example: once when my brother and I didn't make a salad for Sunday dinner, my dad went seriously ballistic over it with absolutely no warning. All he or mom had to do was ask and it's not a regular chore that we just didn't feel like doing that day). These kinds of things happen all the time.
-- my mom distorts the truth, leaves important things out, or outright lies whenever she needs to in order to make her look good to others or my dad (often at me or my brother's expense). If we ever point it out, she absolutely insists that she's correct and my dad believes her over us, which is incredibly frustrating and sad; telling the truth is useless sometimes because no one will believe you.
-- my dad went snooping through my email one day and before I had a private account, he and my mom must have read at least some of my emails, because they would ask things that they couldn't know unless they had. If I ever gave them reason to do that, I can see how it would be a little more understandable, but I never gave them reason and also, they have openly denied it.
-- Talking to my parents about things is useless, too. I tried to tell my mom how I've been feeling and in tears, she told me she was sorry if she'd made me feel like this, but after a week or two of obnoxious overly nice behavior, everything was back to normal -- with the addition of snide comments about what I'd told her I was feeling. My brother also tried to talk to my dad and be honest with him and that went equally badly (in fact, my brother still won't tell me the details... the conversation crushed him and I've never seen him look so shattered).
-- my parents have forced me to continue playing cello competitively, despite my extreme dislike for it. This has led to some really embarrassing moments for me and also put a LOT of stress on me. This and several other things have led my brother and I to think my parents are using us to gain glory for themselves. (In fairness, after 6 years of this, my parents have finally given me permission to quit some aspects of cello.)
-- We used to argue practically constantly about pretty much anything and everything. Often they blamed me, saying everything was my fault or I tried to make everything as hard as possible. Usually they distorted my words, made it impossible for me to win and stuck me in impossible binds, and I ended up having a hard time discerning reality because of all their flipping sides and lying to me.
-- Now, we don't argue as much, but we also don't really talk about anything substantial. Silence is kind of our "communication." My parents know next to nothing about what's going on in my life.
-- My dad has started heat-of-the-moment "spanks" that he laughs off, but really have a bit of oomph on them. He also threw an almond at my brother once when my brother said something that was too honest for him. Might not seem like a big deal, but my brother has life-threatening allergies to nuts... and dad tried to laugh it off, too. Needless to say, my brother didn't find anything funny about it.
-- For all the times my mom has suggested counseling and I've told her yes, let's go, she never follows through.
-- Dishonesty is the best way to live in our house. My brother will readily admit that I'm the "good kid" of the two of us, but to my parents, it's the other way around because I don't hide half my life -- chatting with friends, texting, and other "useless" things -- from them like my brother does.
-- My parents are threatened by my interest in Catholicism, though they are Catholics and attend mass weekly themselves. I would likely be in huge trouble for being a member of CAF (though they probably wouldn't care to know that I felt so trapped, needed help, and some of the people I've met on here have totally turned my life around), and I can't even imagine what they'd do if they knew I've been meeting with the priest at our parish without telling them and that I've been to Reconciliation recently.
-- The strained social interactions at home are starting to rub off on my life outside the house. I don't know how to interact with people socially and there are basic situations where I don't know what is "normal" behavior anymore.
-- My parents are overly concerned with their reputation (ex. my brother is in his first year of college and he's going to be transferring to a music conservatory, but my parents won't let us tell anyone because they're afraid people will think badly of them for letting him pursue music).
-- I'm terrified to express my emotions and show any kind of reaction to things at all. That seems to bother my parents more than anything and has led to some pretty ugly scenes and exchanges. I'm pretty sure repressing my feelings is what led me into pretty severe depression for a while.

I'm probably forgetting some things; it all blurs together after a while. My parents seem generally oblivious to everything, too convinced that they are great parents to stop and think about what they're doing. I've struggled with guilting myself for everything and particularly when posting something like this, I still do feel guilty and question my perception of the reality of things because my parents can be so manipulative.

But, I guess I'm just looking to see what you guys think of this. Normal? Not normal? My friends' families don't seem to work like this. What should I do?

Thanks for reading. :) I'd appreciate any advice you can give me.

~lefty22


#2

Whew, that's a tough position to be in. Being 16 is hard enough without all that other stuff!

In my experience, that is not how a normal family should function. It seems that you know this instinctively. No parents are perfect, and every family has problems, but I can see why you are frustrated. It shouldn't be like that.

I really don't feel competent to advise you beyond emphasizing the importance of prayer. I know that my tendency is to want to think through all of my problems and prayer can often turn into a last resort. It really needs to be first, though.

What helped me immensely through high school and college was journaling every night and making sure that I prayed for another 10-15 minutes after that. It has only been in retrospect that I have realized how much of a lifeline those two activities have been for me. When I reflected back, I discovered that those times of my life that were the most difficult were those same times where I had slacked off on that commitment to prayer.

I will say a prayer for you. Fight the good fight! It will get better. Stay commited to your faith and the Lord will see you through these difficult times.


#3

Lefty,

It sounds like you are not in the best possible situation. As a parent, I think your parents probably want what's best for you. However it sounds like they might not know exactly how to get it for you.

Do you have a trusted adult you can talk to - Maybe a guidance counselor youth minister, special teacher, pastor, aunt, uncle, grandparent? You should probably have some help in working out this situation. My prayers are with you. God bless you and your family.


#4

When I was 16/17 I frequently had run-ins with my parents. I hated my dad to the point I would make sure I wasn't there when he got home. I even got in a fist fight with him over some bracelets I was wearing (I was in a Metal band). I remember calling my mother a crazy b*tch to which she replied smACK! O.o . I came home one night sober as a newborn and went in to tell my mom I was home. I kissed her forehead and she accused me of having alcohol on my breath. She still , to this day, swears I was drunk.

Of course now my dad comes over on the weekends to sit on the porch with me and regale me with Rush Limbaugh quotes shudders and my mom refuses to call my son by his first name (she hates it), so she calls him "Buddy". So nothing has really changed except that I've grown up. :)

Keep this in mind.

1) The way you see things at 16 is not the way you'll see things at 18, 20, 30 ...
2) The grass is always greener on the other side. Everybody's parents look cooler than yours.
3) Your parents are raising two teens! I know this might have little bearing on you right now, but later you'll understand. Teen years are probably the most difficult years for parents to cope with. I love my daughter to death but I am scared to death to think I'll have to interact with her at that age. UGH!
4) If your parents make sure you have clothing, food , transportation, medical care, and a safe home environment, you're doing better than a lot of kids your age.

And wow faith is awesome! I wish I had your faith when I was 16. I was too busy chasing girls and drugs and missed out on what a life of faith in Christ would have been like in school. You should definitely nurture that faith. Continue reconciliation, speaking with your priest and making God #1. He's the original Parent. Wherever your parents fail, he will never fail!

And just think, in a year or so, you can hit your parents up for college money and really get them back. ;)

Advice ? If your parents are just devoid of parenting skill, thank the Lord for the opportunity to learn from their mistakes. If they're abusive, get help immediately. And ultimately, pray for them and you.

I'll offer up some prayers for you. I vividly remember 16. I feel your pain. Even 21 years later. :)


#5

(From a dad of a few . . )

You've communicated your concerns fairly well, good job.

If you look at the reality of the situation, some things you might be able to change, probably most things you won't be able to change.

My advice would be to continue to study hard, extra-curricular ect, church. Whatever happens, do what you're supposed to do, because you will need this later in life. These are things you can control.

I think they have the right to look in your email, assuming they are trying to keep you out of danger. I would live your life so that whatever you do and write in email, you would not be ashamed to show to your parents. Basically, keep your nose clean. This you can also control.

I don't know if you can change mom and dad's going crazy or distorting the truth. Hopefully you won't do that to your kids.

Respect your parents, they are flawed as are we all.

Soon you will be out of the house. You sound ready to move on, so make some solid accomplishments, you are probably performing at a much higher level than they at your age.


#6

Some people have parents who are not nice people.
Some people have parents who are mentally ill.
Some people have parents who are abusive.
Some people have parents who genuinely care for and nuture their children.

When you have parents who fall in the nutty, mean, or abusive category you cope the best you can until you can leave the house and then you establish boundaries. Sometimes you can have a better relationship with your parents when you are older, and sometimes you cannot.

I would say your parents are not behaving rationally or inside the range of what I would call “normal” parenting. They sound a little nutty to me. But, of course, I am only hearing one side of it.

I will say that as a teenager, everything is amplified about 1000%, so with age also comes the wisdom of a broader perspective on things.

You’ll be 18 before you know it, and able to make your own decisions. What you should not do is feel guilty if, at that juncture, your desires do not coincide with your parent’s desires. Live your life, not the one your parents have picked out for you.


#7

I don’t know how to advice you, but I pray that God sends you help.
I was thinking which saint you could address for this situation. Maybe St. Catherine of Siena. When she was about your age her parents, in very good position, wanted her to have success and to be in parties (for getting a good wedding) , but she just wanted to devote herself to Jesus and to help the maids they had in the house. So the father put her in a room upstairs in the loft with just a bed, and treated her as a maid. He thouth she will change soon, but after one year he quit and let her do in her ways. She kept living in the loft, and having a very saintly life. It’s more of her live (she had stigmas, visions of the Lord, and many went to her room for advice, priests, kings, everybody). Pray to her a novena (for example, a mistery of the rosary during 9 days, if you don’t know a novena to her), and ask for her intercession.
Also ask you guardian angel to talk to the guardian angels of your parents before you meet them so they help the conversation be smoother.
And tell Our Mother to look upon you all.


#8

[quote="Chris_Etzel, post:4, topic:241721"]
When I was 16/17 I frequently had run-ins with my parents. I hated my dad to the point I would make sure I wasn't there when he got home. I even got in a fist fight with him over some bracelets I was wearing (I was in a Metal band). I remember calling my mother a crazy b*tch to which she replied smACK! O.o . I came home one night sober as a newborn and went in to tell my mom I was home. I kissed her forehead and she accused me of having alcohol on my breath. She still , to this day, swears I was drunk.

Of course now my dad comes over on the weekends to sit on the porch with me and regale me with Rush Limbaugh quotes shudders and my mom refuses to call my son by his first name (she hates it), so she calls him "Buddy". So nothing has really changed except that I've grown up. :)

Keep this in mind.

1) The way you see things at 16 is not the way you'll see things at 18, 20, 30 ...
2) The grass is always greener on the other side. Everybody's parents look cooler than yours.
3) Your parents are raising two teens! I know this might have little bearing on you right now, but later you'll understand. Teen years are probably the most difficult years for parents to cope with. I love my daughter to death but I am scared to death to think I'll have to interact with her at that age. UGH!
4) If your parents make sure you have clothing, food , transportation, medical care, and a safe home environment, you're doing better than a lot of kids your age.

And wow faith is awesome! I wish I had your faith when I was 16. I was too busy chasing girls and drugs and missed out on what a life of faith in Christ would have been like in school. You should definitely nurture that faith. Continue reconciliation, speaking with your priest and making God #1. He's the original Parent. Wherever your parents fail, he will never fail!

*And just think, in a year or so, you can hit your parents up for college money and really get them back. ;) *

Advice ? If your parents are just devoid of parenting skill, thank the Lord for the opportunity to learn from their mistakes. If they're abusive, get help immediately. And ultimately, pray for them and you.

I'll offer up some prayers for you. I vividly remember 16. I feel your pain. Even 21 years later. :)

[/quote]

What a great response to the OP! Serious, yet with a sense of humor. I hope you are able to keep that perspective when your kids are teens...I think you will. They are blessed to have a dad who remembers what 16 is like...and 17....and 18....sigh....

and yeah, I totally agree with you - I wish I'd had faith when I was his age! I have no idea what my life would have been like, but it sure would have been different.


#9

[quote="lefty22, post:1, topic:241721"]
-- my dad will go crazy over the smallest things.

[/quote]

Ask St. Joseph to give your father the strength and patience to hold his temper in check while he's trying to raise his teenagers.

[quote="lefty22, post:1, topic:241721"]
-- my mom distorts the truth... If we ever point it out, she absolutely insists that she's correct and my dad believes her over us...

[/quote]

Say a prayer to St. Anne, patron of mothers, to intervene to make you mother more truthful.

[quote="lefty22, post:1, topic:241721"]
-- my dad went snooping through my email one day and before I had a private account...

[/quote]

But you now have a private email account. Let this be water under the bridge. Forgive them for being nosy and move on.

[quote="lefty22, post:1, topic:241721"]
-- Talking to my parents about things is useless, too.

[/quote]

St. Paul of the Cross, who is invoked when persuasion is called for, may help you to become better at talking to your parents. It was uncharitable for her to be snarky, but if that was a one-time event, assume your mom was having a bad day and move on.

[quote="lefty22, post:1, topic:241721"]
-- my parents have forced me to continue playing cello competitively, despite my extreme dislike for it.

[/quote]

One adolescent I work with lives in two-car garage with her parents and siblings. Ten teenagers I serve presently were born in refugee camps. Another girl, 17, was forced into a marriage with a man in his 30s; she has a baby and is pregnant again. She also has an antibiotic resistant strain of tuberculosis, which might kill her fetus. Another girl I see lives with the fact that her father, while drunk, tried to kill when she was 13. After she got out of the hospital her mother kicked her out because, with her dad in jail, there was no money coming in; her mother blamed her for this.

So, considering the plights of your peers, I think you're lucky your parents make you study the cello. Besides, what you learn from this endeavor will serve you well in your adult life.

[quote="lefty22, post:1, topic:241721"]
-- Now, we don't argue as much, but we also don't really talk about anything substantial. ... My parents know next to nothing about what's going on in my life.

[/quote]

Try offering information about what's going on in your life and see how this changes your relationship with your mom and dad. You might be surprised.

[quote="lefty22, post:1, topic:241721"]
-- My dad has started heat-of-the-moment "spanks" that he laughs off... He also threw an almond at my brother once...

[/quote]

You have the right not to be physically abused by your parents. If you feel you are, tell a trusted teacher, who will take things from there.

About the nut-throwing incident - of course your brother didn't appreciate it. But if it was a one-off thing, forgive your dad and move on.

[quote="lefty22, post:1, topic:241721"]
-- Dishonesty is the best way to live in our house.

[/quote]

You know dishonesty is wrong; it's unfortunate that it's that way in your house. But this doesn't mean all aspects of your life have to be conducted dishonestly. And texting and talking with your friends aren't wasted activities. Forming a social circle away from parents is a healthy thing for someone your age to be doing.

[quote="lefty22, post:1, topic:241721"]
-- My parents are threatened by my interest in Catholicism...

[/quote]

Perhaps this priest can intervene on your behalf with your mom and dad. Speak with him about this and see what he says.

[quote="lefty22, post:1, topic:241721"]
-- For all the times my mom has suggested counseling and I've told her yes, let's go, she never follows through.

[/quote]

Become a polite broken record. Stay on her with gentle reminders. Stick Post-it Notes in her purse with massages like, "Don't forget to call for a counselor today! :)"

[quote="lefty22, post:1, topic:241721"]
I don't know how to interact with people socially and there are basic situations where I don't know what is "normal" behavior anymore.

[/quote]

But you have a circle of friends. That's what is important at this point in your life. You'll make behavior mistakes as you move into adulthood. You'll learn from them and move on.

[quote="lefty22, post:1, topic:241721"]
-- My parents are overly concerned with their reputation...

[/quote]

This problem something your parents have to work through between them. As the risk of sounding uncharitable, stay out of it.

[quote="lefty22, post:1, topic:241721"]
-- I'm terrified to express my emotions and show any kind of reaction to things at all.

[/quote]

If you can't share your feelings with your parents right now, share them with your priest, a teacher you trust, coach, or some other adults in your life you admire. Sixteen-year-old kids are supposed to get on their parents' nerves. It's in the job description for adolescence.

[quote="lefty22, post:1, topic:241721"]
My parents seem generally oblivious to everything, too...

[/quote]

Your parents don't get you because you're sixteen. You parents shouldn't be getting you at this point. You're developing into your own, independent adulthood, which is baffling for both you and your parents. It's normal for you to feel misunderstood. This is because you're growing up and moving towards adulthood, a scary time. You feel manipulated because your parents probably want to keep hold of your childhood self for as long as they can. Again, that's normal.

[quote="lefty22, post:1, topic:241721"]
But, I guess I'm just looking to see what you guys think of this. Normal? Not normal? My friends' families don't seem to work like this. What should I do?

[/quote]

You are normal. I work with disturbed/damaged teenagers, and nothing in your post set alarm bells off for me. Friends' families seem "normal," but trust me - they're all strange in their own ways. You just don't see it because you're not with them 24/7.

Good luck, my young friend. Be patient with your mom and dad. They have their problems. They are not perfect. But, they are the only parents you're going to get. Resent them, but cherish them too. Trust me, when you get older these issues will pass.


#10

Hi everyone,

Thanks for your replies and I apologize for the slowness of mine -- power and Internet have been sketchy here because of storms.

At any rate, I'm a little confused after reading all the replies because some of you seem to think my parents' behavior isn't normal, while a couple of you think it is. :confused: I tend to agree with Joe; intuitively, I don't think this is how a family should function. By no means is my dad an alcoholic or am I living on the streets -- I understand that I'm very fortunate and that there are a heck of a lot of people who are in situations that are a lot more serious than mine. I volunteer at the local library that's right downtown and I've seen a lot of different situations there. I'm not oblivious to the bigger world, but I do think that there are some things that aren't exactly right in my family.

I guess I should probably add that the examples I gave were just examples. Things similar to them happen a lot. I understand that all families argue and that there is nothing overly unusual about what I posted. It's really the frequency of things that alarms me and drives me crazy. Thank you, though, for the perspective you've given. I appreciate it and I agree that I am fortunate in a lot of ways. I don't want to come across like I'm complaining about having life bad or anything... I'm just confused.

Ok, to respond to a couple things specifically:

I wouldn't be, normally. The things I feel the need to hide from them are messages from CAF, a few emails with the priest, and any conversations with my friends about them (I admit I have been too judgmental of my parents and this is something I definitely can and intend to change). Also, going to Reconciliation and speaking with the priest.

Right, but my parents seem to disagree. They discourage my attending youth group and getting together to hang out with friends and often are very annoyed when I text or chat with people (which I really don't do excessively).

He did already offer to talk to them about some of the ways they've been treating me. I hadn't thought of having him talk to them just about the faith stuff. That could really help, except that they deny that they do discourage my faith in the first place, at least publicly. At home they've never actually said it, and if I ever were to ask them why they don't encourage it, they would pretty much definitely deny it and get really angry, but their actions clearly indicate it.

I guess, writing about this, I'm starting to see that maybe more of the problem is the way we interact about faith. I mean there are issues in other areas, too, but what I resent the most is how hard they've made it for me to find my way back to God and stay there. It's what I'm passionate about and it's a huge part of me, but one that I need to squash when I'm home and around them. What do you guys think about this? Do I need to just get up the courage to show them who I really am and take the flack that will follow? Or is it better to do what I'm doing now?

Thanks for your help!

~lefty22


#11

I would just follow the church, and tough it out for another 2 years. It isn't normal, but it's family hon. All experiences warp and change our attitudes. I do have one question. How are your parents with each other? Could be the root to it all. No matter how crazy our families get (and some put the FUN in Dysfunctional), the church will always be stable. She does not waiver, and don't be afraid to run to her when things get tough at home. Your parents feel threatened because the Church is the only thing that can trump them. They know it.


#12

Thanks, Catheriena.

My parents generally seem to get along pretty well. They have the occasional argument, but nothing big and I’m sure that’s just a normal part of being human and married. They do seem to have an excessive need to “gang up” on me and my brother so that it’s constantly a kind of “us vs. them” battle. Because of that, sometimes I wonder if they do have more problems than I realize and we are a way for them to agree on something and stay unified, if that makes sense. Any thoughts?

What you said about the Church makes total sense and I hadn’t thought of it quite like that, so thanks. Church is pretty much my home away from home – I absolutely love the time I spend there and feel completely at home, I only wish I could spend more time there. :slight_smile:


#13

It sounds like your parents are very controlling. No, it is not normal for a family to function this way because you are afraid of them. I mean, you are afraid to tell them you want to go to church more. Wow! Many teens are afraid they will be caught drinking, having sex, etc. They are maybe concerned that you will end up with a religious vocation. I can't think of anything else that makes sense here. it is very unfortunate but many church going Catholics discourage their children from religious life.
As one poster said, soon you will leave home to go to university or work. Til then do what you can to fill your life with positive things that will pay off in the long run. If you can't talk to them at all then keep a low profile and play the good kid. It will be over soon and life will be very different when you are out of their reach and free from their rules.


#14

Thank you, Contra Mundum. I guess it could definitely be true that they're nervous I'll end up with a religious vocation. I'm not sure why they would really think it's a bad thing, though. I am discerning consecrated life (in the very beginning stages), so maybe they do have a point...

Thanks! :-)


#15

There’s a lot that parents have to give up when a child discerns a vocation - we have to let go of the vision of future grandchildren…a picture that gets in our heads and is hard to chase away. It’s a mental and spiritual shift…A bit like if your son or daughter wants to join the military…You’re proud and nervous at the same time.

If I could, I’d give you a hug right now. God bless you as you discern your path for the future.


closed #16

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