I’m about nineteen and I’m turning twenty in a few months, and I’m absolutely terrified. For me, it’s always been “family comes first”, even if it’s not what I want. I love my family, but as of late things have been very rough, to put it lightly. My mother and I have never been the best of friends, and my stepdad has always been the one to stand up for me if a fight started.
A few days ago, I announced that I’m moving out. I told them that I’d be out in a few days, and my announcement was met with a mixed reaction. My little brother seemed entirely uncaring, my stepdad acted as though I was an enormous inconvenience, and my mother seemed to slip deeper into a shell that she has been skirting around since my father cheated on her several years ago. I thought that maybe this would come as a relief, this way many of the bills would be cut down, or that maybe they would have less of my “hostility and entitlement” to deal with, but somehow it was turned around on me.
For the last ten years of my life, I’ve been in charge of a good deal of the household. I cook, clean almost everything, and raise my brother. All of this is due to a combination of my mother being sick almost nonstop, and both her and my stepdad’s clashing schedules. My mother currently works nights, while my stepdad works days. This means that someone is always sleeping, aside from me, and that I need to take on the responsibilities.
I suppose this makes sense because I only work two days a week now that I’ve graduated, but it’s tiring. I find myself constantly worrying about how they’re going to handle themselves without me. A few years ago my mother and I took my younger brother and left my stepdad alone. Every weekend I would come back and the house would be a wreck. It’s clear that he can’t take care of himself and while I was with my mother, I was the only person who ever did anything.
The father of a very close friend of mine, we can call him Red, tells me constantly that I don’t need to worry about them. I’m an adult and have been ever since these responsibilities of caring for a house and a child were put on me. He says that I need to let them be the adults and move forward with my own life, rather than babysitting my parents. Red tells me to voice my concerns to them if it really bothers me, but every time I do I’m met with the same comment: “I’m an adult and you’re just a child. Worry about yourself and don’t put your nose in my business.”
I don’t know what to do. My family now seems to resent me, and I’m afraid I’m going to let this stop me from starting my own life. I don’t know if I should try and tell them how I feel or simply go. I hate admitting it, but I’m terrified.
Should I Stay Or Should I Go
Dear Should I Stay Or Should I Go,
It makes sense to me that your parents would be unhappy about you leaving, you said that you cook, you clean almost everything, and that you have taken total responsibility for raising your brother, so, of course they would prefer for you to stay. They are getting free childcare, a free cook, and free maid service.
When it comes to the responsibilities of caring for a family, the onus lies with your parents. The role of the parent is to mentor and guide your children, not force them into unpaid servitude. I hear you saying that you find yourself constantly worrying about how they’re going to handle themselves without you and that is the sign of a codependent family system.
Your parents are going to resent you for moving out, but you have to remind yourself that their resentment is not coming from a healthy or a rational place. I think it is in your best interest to start over and create a new life that focuses on getting your needs met. With that said, I don’t know how old your brother is, but if know that your parents aren’t going to properly care for him, you may want to consider taking him with you into this new chapter. Your friend’s Dad seems like a good person to turn to for solid advice. He understands healthy boundaries and age-appropriate responsibilities. I would suggest finding more mentors like him in your life to help guide you into adulthood.
This sounds very tough. I wish you the very best of luck in this transition. Look out for yourself.