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You Asked: My Mother Won't Help Me

You Asked: My Mother Won't Help Me

Dear Sugar,

My parents are divorced and I've lived in my mother's house for most of my life. I'm currently a student at a very prestigious college. My mom has never fulfilled her responsibilities as a mother. Throughout childhood, I was barely fed and lacked balanced nutrition. My meals were always frozen dinners that my mother bought in wholesale. I've had to work since I was 14 years old so I could pay for my academic competition fees, my own computer, and a lot of my personal expenses. Since my earnings were usually in cash, my mother would "borrow" from me but never pay it back.

I have worked very hard to get where I am, but right now I am struggling to pay for college while my mother lives a lavish lifestyle beyond her means. In the three times that my mother has ever needed to fill out my financial aid applications, she has been four months past due, costing me thousands of dollars that she doesn't contribute to. I paid my first year of college on my own. When I asked my mother to help me with my second year, she acted surprised that I even needed to pay for college at all.

She cries to me that she lives from paycheck to paycheck, but I've seen her collection of expensive perfume and designer sunglasses, and the entire basement piled with her clothes. My father is barely employed with a low salary. I feel terrible asking him for anything. He lives well below his means in order to pay child support and his bills. I'm working overtime, but I'm running out of ideas as the tuition payment deadline approaches. Do you have any advice on how to persuade my mother to help me?

— Dead Broke Brooke

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Dear Dead Broke Brooke,

I have no doubt that your frustrations with your mother are legitimate, but it doesn't sound like she's about to change anytime soon. I'm so sorry that things have to be this way, but I think the sooner you learn to accept that your mother is not your ally, the sooner you'll be able to let go of some of this stress.

First of all, it's time for you to take over your financial aid forms. See about getting your dad, who it sounds like has a much lower income than your mom, to claim you; I think it's very likely you'll be able to qualify for more aid, and he might actually get it in on time too! Meanwhile, request a meeting with someone in the financial aid department and start looking into other ways to get some of your tuition paid for. If you have to, drop to part time or consider taking a leave of absence. Whatever you do, stop asking your mom for money.

And finally, start speaking to a therapist through your on-campus health center. I think you have some serious pain regarding the way you were raised and treated by your mother. It's time to start to detach and distance yourself from those feelings; I guarantee on the other side there is much more happiness. Good luck to you.


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