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Direct Answers - Column for the week of June 21, 2004

I have a mother who is constantly yelling at me for the smallest things, regardless of whether or not it is my fault. She tells me how hopeless I am, even though I get really good grades and excel in all my extracurricular activities.

Whenever I defend myself, she tells me I have an attitude problem. She puts words in my mouth and denies anything she ever did wrong. She told me she is going to kick me out of the house because she thinks I am rebellious. She doesn't even know what that means because most of the time I don't say anything when she makes false accusations and yells at me.

There is no one at home I can talk to about this. My dad is literally afraid of her, and whenever I cry after taking all my mom says to me, he ends up telling me to apologize to her. The thing is, I know I may raise my voice sometimes when I am angry, but I am angry because she exaggerates and overreacts.

I need help. I can't go on any longer. This happens almost every day, and I have been skipping meals and becoming depressed. The only time I can forget what home is like is when I am at school and with my friends. I suggested going to therapy with my mom, but she just yelled at me for telling her that we have problems.


Emma, there is a fable about an old man who lived with his son, daughter-in-law, and grandson. The old man was hard of hearing, and he sometimes spilled his food. His son and daughter-in-law were so disgusted by this they made the old man eat by himself out of a wooden bowl behind the stove.

One day the old man's grandson, who was only four, began gathering bits of wood. When his father asked what he was doing, the boy replied, “I am making a wooden trough for you and mother to eat out of when I am big. " Ashamed, the couple took the grandfather to the table, and if he spilled a little food, they never said anything.

Emma, like the boy in the tale “The Old Man and His Grandson, " there is a lesson you could teach your parents, but they aren't listening. You're really in a pickle!

You are so grown up, we think you will understand this. Your mom is who she is. Whether there is provocation from you or not, she is going to act the same way toward you. But you have some real positives in your corner. You are good at school and extracurricular activities. Focus on them. Channel the maximum of your energies on them. They are your future.

Once you accept that you can't talk to your mom or dad, there is another logical step. Who can you talk to? Try talking to your school counselor or favorite teacher, not with the expectation they can materially change your life, but so you can vent your feelings and frustration.

Often venting feelings has two results. First, it releases pressure, thus reducing tension. Second, it acts like a sounding board for thoughts and ideas which can help you figure out how to deal with your parents.

Your parents may be in power now, but in a few years the only power they will have over your life is the power you choose to let them have.

We heard a story about a man, it might have been the writer Tracy Kidder, who worked on a project in a nursing home. When the project ended, he told his wife and young daughter that he never wanted to end up in a nursing home. His daughter then looked up at her father with a glint in her eye and said, “Well then, Daddy, you'd better be nice to me. "

Wayne & Tamara

About The Author

Authors and columnists Wayne and Tamara Mitchell can be reached at .

Send letters to: Direct Answers, PO Box 964, Springfield, MO 65801 or email: .


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