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Parent Trouble

Hello, Miss Emily. I'm a female,  and I'm 14 years old. Well, I've been having a lot of family problems. My mother called me fat, today, and she also said she wouldn't care if I killed myself. I was starting to think I should. She is also not giving me my Christmas present. It's money. I was going to put the money in an account so I could buy things that I want on-line, but my parents soon said no because the shirts I want are band shirts and they have bad things written on them. Now they want to buy clothes for me that I don't want for Christmas. Ive been crying for two days, now, because they're being so mean to me. I don't know what to do. They laughed at me when I was crying today.

-------------------------Miss Emily's advice-----------------------

There's no test parents take before having children, and if there were, your mother would get a lousy grade on the sensitivity section of that test. It is not all right to call a child fat, nor is it okay for a mother to say she wouldn't care if her child killed herself. Where parents do have rights is when they tell their children they do not want them to wear band shirts with bad things written on them. You can let your mother know that calling you fat, and other nasty comments that are unproductive and hurtful are, well, UNPRODUCTIVE AND HURTFUL! It may not get the results you want, but at least you're on record for suggesting that this isn't the way to parent a 14 year old girl! You could ask a five year old if this is acceptable behavior and he, or she would tell you, "No".  If your parents buy you clothes you do not like, choose not to wear them, or take them back to the store where they were purchased and buy something that suits you -- but is not in direct opposition to your parents' positions on appropriate clothing to wear. Were your relationship with your parents to become more antagonistic, please see a school counselor. For your mother to tell you she wouldn't mind if you killed yourself is cruel, and some intervention may help. Always remember that you will be an adult someday (and sooner than you realize),  and it's best to see this period of your life as only a blip on the radar screen of it. One day, if you prepare properly (college, a career?), you can lead your life the way you want, and put this period of your life in perspective. Parents are human, and good parenting is not a given. 

Mother Was MIA

Hi Dear Emily:

I am confused about my life, and I don`t know how this world is. I am 22yrs old, now, and I have been away from my mom since I was 3 years old. I miss her a lot, and I did a lot to be with her  -- although she was leaving to a foreign country.  She remarried and finally i met her, but  I feel she is not interesting in me, and her children hate me. I don`t know what to do?

-----------------------------------------Miss Emily's advice---------------------------------

I am so sorry for you. This is often the case with children and their fathers, but we tend to forget that this can also be an issue with mothers. In fact, being raised with both parents in our lives in no guarantee that they will love us.  A rational approach is to not internalize this as something you have done. In fact, you have done nothing to warrant this behavior from your mother and your half siblings. You are an innocent in how this has played out. Your mother had responsibilities to parent you -- yet  she did not choose to accept that role in your life. Some parents are lousy parents. And some parents have emotional problems. They are human, and can make bad choices -- or choices they felt they had to make for reasons of personal survival, or pure desperation. And some parents make choices that are completely self-centered.. In your mother's case, she moved away, started a new family, and she's used to spending her time with them. You were separated from her for many years. You and she are strangers to each other.  I have a friend who once told me, "I made my friends my family, because my parents didn't want the job." We can pick our friends, but we do not choose our parents and relatives. I think the best thing you can do, now, is to not try too hard to get something out of your relationship with your mother and siblings. It may come, in time, or it may never happen. Learn to accept the things you cannot change in order to go on with your life to a level of personal success, and satisfaction. If you let this become a "cause" to win your mother's love, you may find it's not possible -- no matter the effort you put into it. You can't do it alone. She would have to meet you half-way. Focus on your life, the family that raised you, and the family you will, more than likely, have down the road. Once you have created a loving environment for yourself, this will seem less important. I know how we all want a mother's love. It seems the natural order of things in life. And that would be great if we weren't human, with flaws, and the product of the choices we make. There is often collateral damage. Make good choices for yourself, and if your mother and siblings comes around, that's great. If not, you have you, and the life you create to hold dear to your heart.

Son's Girlfriend Fixture In Home

Dear Miss Emily:

Our son is 24 ,and his girlfriend is 21.  Their sleepovers started out as weekends, but the last 6 months it's like 5 out of 7 nights.  It's too much. I've talked to my son, but she wants sleepovers all the time.  I honestly don't know  what to do.  Please, do you have any advice?  Thanks

--------------------------------Miss Emily's advice--------------------------

Unfortunately, the time to nix it was when it began to escalate. Now a new precedent has been set, and it makes it harder to shift course. I understand how you feel. You have a family, and although you may like this girl, there was nothing written that she had to become a new member of it -- and a fixture in your home. You have a right to set down rules in your household and, as long as your son lives with you (at 24) and you're paying for a roof over his head (and I am sure other expenditures), you can implement them." Decide what's acceptable to you (and what isn't), and tell both of them -- not only your son. Your son may take umbrage, and his girlfriend appear wide-eyed and confused, but if this is what you want, you have to stand by it. They will find other places to be intimate, and you'll probably see your son less, but you shouldn't allow yourself to be manipulated by them if it's interfering with your need for some privacy, or a suppressed objection to them sleeping in the same room, and in the same bed.

Response to "J"


Please remember that I cannot respond to you personally, because Yahoo does not send e-mails to Therefore, I cannot post every letter you send on my site. Your daughter is demanding, but also an emotionally unstable girl, and the seriousness of this issue cannot be underplayed.  A precedent was set long along, but you have become a helpless parent as a result of it. I am glad she's getting therapy, but her issues with gender identification is a tremendously difficult issue in itself. As I have said in my past e-mails to you, it is you who also needs counseling. I do not have the answers to the serious problems you have, and there is no magic wand to make them disappear. You need intense counseling in order to find the tools to deal with her. Those tools cannot be gotten by writing me thinking there is a quick fix. My heart goes out to you, and I see how you are suffering. It does seem that you may be headed for a breakdown if you don't get the help you need. The next time you write to me, I want you to tell me that you, too, are getting some serious guidance on these rather critical issues in your life.

"J" Response Concerning Your Troubled Teen (


I, too, was hoping your daughter would follow through on her appointment. My heart goes out you. In your last e-mail, you told me you had set a precedent on giving her everything she wanted. That does not necessarily produce a violent teenager, like your daughter, but it produces a spoiled one, and you are dealing with two rather difficult (an understatement) situations. As I have said in the past, you must go to counseling to learn how to deal with this, and it won't happen from me writing a few e-mails to you and repeat what I have said in the past. It will take an intense effort on your part to find the tools needed to deal with her. Now, I am willing to admit that your daughter may have a severe psychological disorder, and there may be little you can do to change her attitude -- unless she is willing to get the help she desperately needs. You have endured horrendous family drama -- from the accusation your stepdaughter made against your husband, your daughter's insolence, and violent tendencies, and you have allowed yourself to become mentally impotent because of it. Again, it's time for you to take charge and seek help from a professional. Sure, you can push her out the door when she's 18, but you can cross that bridge when you come to it. response to advice seeker "J"

You have had tremendous difficulty in dealing with family issues, and I think you need to seek counseling; as well as your daughter, and the one from his first marriage who is accusing him of molestation -- yet now denies it. Both girls are troubled, indeed.  I cannot know, for sure, if your husband's daughter's accusations of him molesting her are true, or not. There is so much dysfunction in these families, based on the previous letters you've sent to me, I can't discount that there may be some truth to what both these girls have said. Sexual child abuse is a serious matter, and it does happen in families. Your husband, and your daugther with him have not gotten along for quite some time. Her hostility toward him is consistent. He has also made comments about having sleazy women come on to him, sexually, and he's frequently said that in front of her. Yes, she may have lied to you about what her stepsister told her but, again, that is an unknown. I think you need to talk to a professional in order to find some answers as to what's going on with your husband, your daughter, and how best to handle it. I am not saying he's guilty of what his other daughter accuses him of doing, but it warrants finding out -- if possible.

Egg Donor Dilemma

Dear Miss Emily:

If my surrogate is going to have a baby, and my husband is the father, and we have a donor for the egg, is it all right to tell family about the surrogate but not mention that the baby came from a donor egg? I think the child should know that before anyone else, so we should tell the child when he, or she is young -- and then the child can tell others. What do you think of this plan?

--------------------------Miss Emily's advice-----------------------

I think you should tell the family up front. "Gee, sis, 'Timmy' doesn't look like anyone in our family!" Comments like that could incense you, but if family isn't aware your child is not from your egg, you never know what might be said out of ignorance. You can tell your child at the appropriate time, but if your family can be trusted to let this be your concern, and not interfere, I see no reason why the truth isn't best from the get-go.

Forget Being Designated Mommy

Dear Miss Emily:

I dated a guy for a while and started getting really close to his son. He was 1 at the time. I only met the kid once...he wanted me to be a mother to his son. I fell in love with his son. We broke up. I have been dating my current boyfriend for 10 months, He is the best thing that has happened to me. I love him. But my ex is still wanting me to be a mother to his son. I feel I should keep the promise, but I don't want it to come between me and my boyfriend. I feel that my ex is just using his son to get to me. What do you think I should do?
-----------------------Miss Emily's advice-------------------

"I promise" should, permanently, be removed from everyone's vocabulary, and your situation is an example of why that should be the case. This is a promise you must break. You are happy in your new relationship, and it would add tremendous difficulty to your life. It's almost ludicrous to think about it working out. Move on with your life, and tell your ex to do the same. He will find someone, eventually (hopefully, permanently, for his son's sake), and she will be the new mother of his son. And when he does find this woman, can you imagine how she would feel if you were the designated mother? I shudder to think about the fallout from that! That boy does not need the confusion in his life, nor any stress resulting from two dueling mommies. No, tell your ex it's not possible, and the legitimate reasons why. He'll get over it. We often make promises in the heat of the moment. For you, lesson learned.

Daughter Wears Clownish Make-up

Dear Miss Emily:
My 14 year old daughter is wearing makeup that looks freakish.  She wears layers of foundation topped with thick bronzer and there is a line around her entire face showing where the make up stops.  She lines her outer lips a dark color and fills in with gobs of gloss so it looks like someone took a marker and traced around her lips.  She wears thick black eyeliner a la cat style with tammy Faye-ish mascara.  The worst is her eyebrows.  She literally makes her eyebrows 3 times thicker and darker than they are; she almost draws a unibrow on her face and makes square edges.  The sad part is that she is a beautiful girl, naturally, but you would never know it behind the mask she is wearing.  She is an A student, doesn't drink, smoke or do drugs so I tried to let her do her own thing thinking it was a phase but it has been over a year now and I am really disturbed and upset.  She will not talk about it at all, and tells me to stop if I try talking about it.  I offered to take her to a professional makeup artist for a few lessons but she scoffed and said no way.  People stare at her whenever we are in public, my friends ask me what is wrong with her as it is so freakish.  She doesn't care.  I have gotten to the point where I will not go out in public with her as it is too painful to see the stares and whispers from people. I love my daughter and don't know why she is doing this to herself.  Do you think I should take her to a psychiatrist?  She will refuse to go, but I am at the end of my rope.  I don't know why she is so intent on distorting her own beauty.  Any advice?

-----------------------------Miss Emily's advice--------------------------

I think it's perfectly within your right to tell her it's way too much and she must tone it down, and it's not negotiable. You seem to be afraid to exhibit your authority as a parent, and that's not a good place to be now, or in the future! If she seems reasonable in all other areas, her grades are great and she's respectful to you and others in all other ways, it should be within your power (and reasonable) to sit her down and tell her this is not appropriate for her age, and she has two choices: either she makes the changes herself, or she can go to a make-up artist to learn some proper make-up techniques that are age appropriate. This particular age is a time when teens want to express their independence (somewhat like a toddler), but that does not mean looking like a clown is acceptable behavior. Parents often have to bite the inside of their cheeks in order for a child to find his, or her own way, but there are limits. Again, you have a right to a say in how your child behaves and appears in public. If you put your foot down, and she does not comply, it would be smart for you to see a counselor for tips on how to handle her rebellion in this area. Her reasons for doing this, other than thinking it's cool, may be deep-rooted, and you want to cover all bases.

Troubled Daughter

"J" with a address. You have sent several letters, and I am unable to write a personal reply (Yahoo returns them), nor post all of them because of the volume. My heart goes out to you. Your daughter is extremely troubled. She does need a great deal of intervention and help. It is possible that a medication could control her mood swings, but she really should be diagnosed by a psychiatrist in order to get the proper treatment she needs. There are myriad mental disorders that could be controlling her behavior, and a proper diagnosis is necessary. Please see a doctor in order to get some guidance in how to, or at least try to deal with her. Bottom line, however, is that some people will not get help because it's part of their illness. I hope that's not the case for her, or she will continue to tear this family apart. Get counseling now, please.
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