Parenting the parent
Every time I get interested in a girl, my mom starts telling me a story from when she was my age (I’m 14). When she does this, I don’t want to talk to her. If I bring up something that happened at a game, she’ll ask if the girl I like was at the game, and try to talk to me about the girl. I want her to stop trying to educate me about relationships. She’s been through the sorriest guys and shut me down when I tried to give her advice. She never once admitted I was right and I was. How do I get her to back off?
Treat yourself as an equal, even when your mom parents you as if you are still a child. She seems to believe that you should deny reality in favor of what she says is the truth. But you’ve lost that blind spot. Don’t worry—it’s a good thing. In situations like yours, some teens choose to protect a parent’s self-image by going along with a story. If you join that crowd, you stunt your mom’s personal growth along with your own. So trust that you see your mom clearly. She has struggled in relationships and wants to save you from suffering. That’s awesome. The problem is she doesn’t understand that her focus on protecting you distracts her from hearing herself and healing.
The next time your mom tells you a dating story, listen. Then summarize the lesson for her. Say something like: “So the story of you and (name of her man) tells me that breaking up and getting back together over and over is cruel to your body, mind and soul. Glad you gave it up.” By taking charge you prove to yourself and your mom how much wisdom you possess. And, by speaking out, you condition your brain to make smart dating choices a habit.
My sister and I have different moms but the same dad. He raised us. She went to college, got obsessed with a guy who dumped her, and flunked out. She got into heavy drugs and spent time in jail. Money set aside for my college education was spent paying for her fancy rehab programs. I didn’t go to college but I’m doing well for myself. Now my sister wants me to cosign a loan so she can go to back to college. I said no. She got my dad, who is broke, to beg me to help. I don’t want to. Am I a bad person?
No. You don’t have to shoulder a financial burden in order to be a good sibling. Sometimes love is saying no. Ask your sister to consider working full-time and attending community college part-time. Or suggest that she work full-time for five years and save the money she needs. Being your sister’s keeper means inviting her to practice adulting and that includes learning to manage finances so she can create the life she wants. But if your resistance toward helping is based in resentment, shake it off. Instead, be grateful for your resilience, tenacity and success.