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Q&ADear Prudence,

I’m 17 years old and my parents divorced when I was 13. My
younger siblings (13, 11, 8) and I live with our dad. My mother and I have never gotten along; as a pre-teen, she used to tell me I was fatter than my sister and encouraged me to starve myself, nearing pushing me to anorexia. When I was 13, she got drunk and convinced me she was okay to drive before totaling my dad’s car with me in the passenger seat. Now, I keep a hidden camera in my room to prevent her from stealing my money, clothes, and make-up, among other things.
She openly tells me that I am her least favorite child and doesn’t even remember how old I am. I know this looks bad; I’m supposed to be eternally grateful for the sacrifices my mom has made. But what’s there to be grateful for? She left me to raise my 3 siblings while my dad works to support 4 kids on his own. In less than a year, I’m going to move 1,000 miles away for college, so it will be my choice to keep in contact with her or not. Part of me wants to cut my losses, but the other part loves her and remembers how nice she was when I was very little. In addition, my younger siblings treat me like their mother and will likely follow my example when it comes time for them to move out. What should I do?

Sincerely,
Confused Daughter

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Dear Confused Daughter,

I am so sorry to hear about whats been a source of pain in your life. It doesn’t sound fair at all and I hate that you have had to experience it. Although I may not know you personally, I really take it to heart when children are not treated with the love and care that they need and deserve. I know how it feels and that is why it affects me deeply. With that being said my advice is going to come from a place that can be trusted because I too had a parent that struggled with addictions.

Your question was what should you do as far as your relationship goes with your mother when you move away? My advice is to do what feels right in your heart of hearts while paying attention to your feelings and needs. Sometimes we desire things from a person that never plan to give us what we need so badly. An apology, love, appreciation, just to name a few. I don’t know many people who would not want a relationship with their mother, but the truth is, if she isn’t emotionally healed and your relationship with her will only be a source of pain for you, then I would suggest that you set boundaries around your heart to protect yourself. I would say you should write her a letter explaining your hurts and how you feel about your relationship and things that have happened and then let her know that until she seeks some serious help you can’t continue to be apart of her life. Sadly so many people choose not to set these type of boundaries because they think because someone is family that they have to deal with them no matter what, but that’s so far from being true. Our first priority as humans is to take care of ourselves, that’s  the only way we can be of any use and help to anyone else.

I hope this has helped you and I truly wish you the best in life!

P.S. here is an article and a book that I think can be helpful to you.

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