Skip Nav
Job Search
How to Stop Notifying Everyone When Updating Your LinkedIn
Budget Tips
The Lean Household: 5 Ways to Manage Your Finances Like a Successful Startup
Job Search
Follow Up After a Job Interview With This Email

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

To see DearSugar's answer,


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.


Join The Conversation
Asia84 Asia84 8 years
I hate to say this baby-girl, but if you have to get on a pole or get on your knees, then you gon' have to do what you have to do. Your mom is f*cked up, and your revenge will be you getting a college degree, having a great career, and possibly settling down and popping some pretty kids who you love and adore 10 times more than she loved you. Don't ask her for sh*t! F*ck her!!!! she will need you before you really need her. Show 'em better than you can tell them. try to use your dad's info on FAFSA. they don't know who you live with. the trick is to make sure HE files you on his taxes before SHE does. I don't care if you mom gets mad. f*ck her! Tough it out this Fall semester, but be ready for Spring. Can you take your GE at a near by community college instead. It would be crazy cheap. work at a gentlemen's club as a waitress, or f*ck...Hooters. get a push up bra and work tips. that's probably the fastest cash you can get without opening your legs. Books cost two arms and a leg...cheat the system. go down to the country building and tell them your homeless. You're staying a friend's couch and she needs you to pay rent. depending on what state you live in, they help you out with at least food....which helps with overall cost.
designerel designerel 8 years
Don't bother trying to talk her into it. Cut off ties with your mom-- sorry but she sounds like a terrible person who's never going to change and you don't need her in your life. I agree with some of the other posters, maybe ask your dad to claim you for financial aid, or do it yourself. I'm sure someone in the financial aid office would be happy to help.
TidalWave TidalWave 8 years
i agree with everything everyone else has said. but i am curious, does your mom actually have a lot of money? i am asking because obviously this affects the amount of aid you receive. you didn't mention that your mom has money, and i am assuming she doesn't since she borrows money from you. however, you state that she has tons of clothes and designer stuff. SO --- she's buys all this stuff on credit? i guess i would just see if your dad could do the FAFSA stuff with his information. it won't cost him anything. i paid my own way through school because my mom racked up credit card debt and couldn't even co-sign loans for me. just work a lot and realize that your mother will never be there for you. it sucks, but just try to surround yourself with people who actually do care for you instead.
frieddumpling frieddumpling 8 years
I think you should forget about persuading your mother to help you because it's NOT going to happen. However, you may try to arrange a lower-interest loan from your mother if she does have the money - some parents do that with their kids, so they are still paying for their own tuition and expenses. But keep in mind that your mother may seem like a shopaholic with her designer brands, but she might not have that much money and is just piling on credit cards debt - I definitely know people who do that and live a seeming lavish lifestyle. I think taking a year off school and working full-time to save up for money is definitely a good option for you. You can't focus on school if you're THAT stressed about money constantly and you DO want to learn something when you're in university. There are TONS of grants and scholarships and essay contests out there that very little people apply for and you may have a great chance!
sarah100682 sarah100682 8 years
Unfortunately, I think you need to realize that your mom is not going to come through. I don't think the question should be, "how do I approach my mom", but how can I do this on my own. I do not at all mean to be harsh, but it seems that your mother has proven time and time again that she cannot be relied on...and you know what, that sucks. There is no doubt about it. You seem like a really mature and intelligent person, and though its really a shame you have never been able to count on your mom, I think you need to come to the realization that it is never going to change. Good luck to you. And, I really don't see how people think you are blaming your mother for are just stating the problems you have had in your past. Unfortuately with all that FASFA crap, you have to realize on your parents in most cases, and that sucks for you.
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 8 years
Sorry for your frustration. I think you should definitely consider therapy because you seem very angry. I'm not saying you shouldn't be angry, btw, just that long-term it's not beneficial to harbor those feelings.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i share your frustration here. for myself - it's not the exact same situation but it's similar with college. my parents got divorced when i was very very young and in their settlement, there's a clause stating that my father would be responsible for all my college expenses - and well...there was a point in my college life that he decided that i was 'too expensive' and stopped paying my my tuition and room and board - and well that made things VERY hard. i knew that he could afford it all, and with my brothers, they were always told NOT to work so they could focus on their studies - but for me - i had to work full time and still manage to get good grades and pay everything off. it's really hard cause you know what you see your parents doing, and you know that they should help. if parents don't contribute to you wanting to further your education, then well, what else is there. ugh! i wish that there was some way to turn back time so that your parents could see how they were affecting you but we all know that it's not going to happen.
reactionary reactionary 8 years
this annoyed me. i too have worked since i was of the legal age to and before that i babysat because although my mother HAS the money to help support me she is selfish and refuses to, but i never use that as an excuse. i pay for my own college education and i've paid for everything i've done since i turned sixteen. taking care of yourself usually makes one stronger, not a whiner.
Marci Marci 8 years
Those who have estranged relationships with their mothers are always hoping it will change or get better. I can't blame them for that. The mother/daughter relationship is an important one, and when the mother opts out, that's really tough on the kids. But there is a time when you have to recognize who you're dealing with, and you know that you're not going to get anywhere with your mother, so why bother trying? She's just going to keep disappointing you. I agree with everyone who said you need to speak to a specialist at school about financial aid for yourself.
fabulouslady87 fabulouslady87 8 years
You really do need to talk to a financial aid specialist at your school. You may qualify for some type of tuition waiver or you can request a tuition deadline extension. Your mother sounds like she's set in her ways and you probably can't change that. Even if you can, you need to feel secure enough with your financial situation so I don't think depending on her is an option right now. There must be some type of scholarship office at your school. There are so many different types of scholarships-- not all of them require you to show need or write long essays. There are scholarships for tall women, red heads, people with a certain last name, good merit, grades... the list goes on and on. You don't have to show financial need to receive a scholarship, so get to work on researching them and apply your heart out! Just make sure you report private loans or scholarships to your university. Next, start to build your credit! I have great credit- I have gotten credit cards on my own, I could finance a car if I wanted to, and even get a loan without a cosigner and I'm only 20 years old. It takes time to build up your credit history, so start now. Apply for a student credit card- I recommend Bank of America Visa for students. Buy things that you have cash for with your credit card so that you can immediately pay off the entire balance without letting interest accrue. You could even get a credit card with a store you don't shop at often so that you're not tempted to use it too often and end up with a lot of debt. This way you'll be able to get things, like loans, on your own without having to worry about your mother so much. If you've been paying your bills by yourself you should already have some credit established. Hang in there and keep being independent. And if you need to take time off from school, it's not the end of the world. That could be a time for you to work and save money.
gemsera gemsera 8 years
I dont have any hints on the tuition side of things, but in terms of crappy mothers I have a doozy. The best thing you can realise is that, if she wants to be a horrible person, then thats her perogative. You can't change her ways, or tell her different because she's selfish and doing exactly as she wants to do. You ought to do the same for yourself and cut the ties. And make sure you say your piece when you do it. There are ways around everything. Coming from someone who went to court to ensure I didnt have to see my violent mother at 14 years old, so I have sort of an idea.
ninjastarlett ninjastarlett 8 years
There really doesn't sound like much you CAN do to persuade your mother to help you but it also sounds like you can stand on your own two feet just fine without her help anyway. As for the college money, Dear's suggestions about getting on your father's tax forms is really good, and definitely schedule an appointment with a financial aid adviser at your school. Sometimes you'd be surprised how understanding an institution can be; you just have to get the chance to sit down with a person. My parents are low-income too and my college expenses were almost entirely covered by financial aid, although I'm 15k in debt now. I commend you for getting so far without the nurture and support your mother is supposed to give. If you did all that without her then you don't need her help now either.
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 8 years
Put down your father's info and it'll actually benefit you. Since you say he doesn't make much, you'll be able to get a grant. Your mother is obviously out for herself, leave her be and don't give her money. Ignore her!
colombiansugar colombiansugar 8 years
Definitely talk to your school about your situation. Also, it's not uncommon for states to hold parents legally responsible (economically and otherwise) for full-time college students, up until the age of 23ish/until you get your degree. Every state has different laws. So depending on what state you are from, if your parents are not supporting you/not paying child support/not using the child support for your needs, you have a legal remedy. Go into probate court and talk to a judge; he may find some way to oversee your mom's expenses and make sure that she is using her money wisely (not wasting it on a lavish lifestyle she cannot afford, instead of helping you). Just an idea.
Percy Percy 8 years
Secure your own future first - that's your no. 1 priority at this particular moment. Deal with your issues with your mother later. Don't lump the two together. You've done well on standing tall on your own two feet and yes, it's tiring and exhausting however, I believe you are strong and resourceful enough to continue to do so. Good luck! (applause...)
Jammi Jammi 8 years
What I'm getting from this is that she's never *really* been dependent on her mother, it's been the other way around. [Her mother 'borrowed' her money, she pretty much raised herself], so even though it's hard to acknowledge that her mother isn't very nurturing she has known her personality from the get go. And on top of that she says her mother is living outside of her own means, so I don't think it's likely that she'd even be able to help her with school. School wise, I agree with the above about looking into loans, financial aid, etc. Shop around at a few banks and check out rates for loans as well as see a financial planner about a free assessment, just to see what would happen if you keep going the way you are. Definitely look into having your dad being the person to deal with your financial aid if she's not taking it seriously and you end up owing money as a result. Good luck with this, I hope everything works out and your mother gets her act together, and even if she doesn't you sound resourceful, you'll figure something out.
honeysugar28 honeysugar28 8 years
Dear Sugar gave you amazing advice! Unfortunately since your mom doesn't seem to be mature enough to fulfill her parental responsabilities you're going to have to take care of yourself. Maybe you can file for Financial Aid as an independent or if you're working ask about tuition reimbursement. Either way many of us don't have parents that can or will pay for college so we have to work with whatever is available.
kia kia 8 years
I sympathize completely and understand more than I would like to. If you are under 24 you need both parents information for financial aid forms so relying on your mother to fill in those forms ASAP is crucial. She will spend money the way she wants to and unfortunately that can leave you SOL. My undergraduate progress was slow and did involve time away from studies to work. It is not a reality you may not like but it is an option. In your case you aren't even eligible for work study so you most likely have a job not related to your major. If you are on a career track and would like to work in some capacity with the government... say as a scientist or engineer consider the SCEP program. Your advisor should be able to tell you about it. Also talk to your advisor about options they may know about. Good luck! I know you appreciate the education you are getting since it is kind of a struggle.
richandfamous10 richandfamous10 8 years
I think some of the previous posts are paying too much attention to the age factor. So what if she is 18 or 19, she isn't 42. She had to work as a child at 14, to pay for things her parents should have paid for. Her mom took her hard earned cash and never paid her back. It is normal for her to feel bad that while she is struggling, her own mother won't help her. A child is a child and a good parent should help their child out if they are struggling. Lay off the age thing a bit. She is working overtime and even paid her way through first year by herself. To the OP - I do agree that you should not rely on her any more. She is never going to change, and you will only disappoint yourself. Do try to claim yourself on your dad or try the override suggestion. And honestly, I think I would take a semester off to earn money and save up. You'd only graduate one semester late, you could possibly even save to move out. Good luck!
TwistandShout TwistandShout 8 years
I think the previous commentors are being a little harsh and underestimating the pain of being so rejected by a mother, even as a legal adult and even though you should "know better" by now. I'm going through (almost) the same thing currently and it is a lot harder than many would think to emotionally distance yourself. Paying for college on your own is definitely a challenge, but would be made much easier without dealing with the pain of complete neglect and rejection. I agree 100% with Dear and definitely suggest counseling.
lolalu lolalu 8 years
Well actually she is legally dependent until the age of 24 in terms of financial aid. I work part-time in my school's fin aid office and we came across this all the time, unfortunately. Persons under that age cannot file independently for financial aid unless there are special circumstances (ie-no parents, military/veterans, married, have children ) Furthermore, as your parent she has the responsibility for helping you with your education. That doesn't mean she should pay for it necessarily, but she should fulfill her duty to fill out the fafsa on time! this link has some great tips that we give to students,, I hope it can help you out. Good luck!
havok636 havok636 8 years
you may want to see if your school has a dependency loophole. my parents absolutely refuse to pay for college or any expenses associated with it, but my parents make a substantial amount of money, so i would get screwed on financial aid. fortunately i talked to the office of student financial aid and discovered they have a dependency override appeal. basically i send my school my fafsa with only my information, and they fill out the proper forms to the government saying my parents don't contribute, and i end up getting a lot of grants and subsidized loans.
Kelliegrl Kelliegrl 8 years
Definitely agree with GlowingMoon. If you're over 18, you're a legal adult and have to learn to provide for yourself. You say you're mom has never really lived up to her responsibilities as a mom, so why expect her to do so now. I don't pretend to understand what you're going through, but I can imagine that it is hard and frustrating to have to live through this. There are ways to get it done, for example, I went to graduate school on mostly loans and scholarships, yes it was very expensive, but that's why you're going to school so you can get a kick -ass job to pay back the loans. Don't give up and good luck!
kandrew4 kandrew4 8 years
I agree with GlowingMoon. Sounds like you've known for awhile that your mother isn't exactly Parent of the Year material, yet you are still dependent on her. I know it hurts that she wasn't helpful raising you, but that doesn't mean that she's going to make up for it now. Sounds like you are having a hard time getting past that and keep regressing to those moments. I wish you the best -- but fill out your own forms. I do it, and the university is helpful. They can be quite understanding if you use your resources. Best of luck!
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 8 years
Since you're in college, I presume you're 18 years old. This makes you a legal adult. You have the means to live on your own, and pay for your own college education. My husband, sister, and I did this, and we attended private, prestigious universities. You don't have to be dependent on your Mom. It's tough, but it's do-able. It's time to stand on you own two feet, and stop blaming Mommy.
How Attractive Woman Play Hard to Get
Muffin Recipes For Kids
What to Say to People Who Ask Why You're Single
Fourth Grader's Anti-Bullying Video
From Our Partners
Latest Career & Finance
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds