TL;DR My mother isn't supportive and she doesn't seem to understand me. My family life is miserable and I don't know what to do about my situation. I know I should probably see a counselor but my parents aren't willing to support me in that and a counselor cannot change my parents' behavior. What can I do to improve my situation?

To prevent this from being downvoted into oblivion: I believe this post is on-topic (see this meta post) and I'd ask anyone to please read to the end before downvoting. I've put a lot of time and effort into this post and I don't know what to do about my situation.

Bit of background info, my parents have a successful marriage and we're a family of 7. A 14-year-old boy (me), 12-year-old girl, 10-year-old boy, 6-year-old girl and infant baby, all except aforesaid baby and myself being homeschooled by our mother. I understand that so many children cause stress on the parental units but I don't feel this is an excuse for being hateful.

My good qualities: things I feel my parents should be proud of (but they aren't)

  • I'm an advanced piano player. I've submitted work to a studio and it's "likely to show up in some production or other within a year". But whenever I practice my compositions on the piano I always hear from my mother that it's "sloppy" or "too bangy".
  • I'm a good runner. I'm a freshman and I'm top 100 in the state of Oregon (out of over a thousand) for Cross Country. I'm 5th on my team and I have a 5K time of nearly 18 minutes. When I get home from a meet my mom usually ignores me and my dad grills me on my run*.
  • I get good grades. I have a 3.7 GPA. I'm taking Precalculus as a Freshman and I "attend" an online school (which is said to be more challenging as students have to manage their own time). I had a C for about two weeks - my mother threatened to pull me out of school and homeschool me again. My father threatened to put me in a public school.

    *To be honest, I appreciate this as it's a good evaluation. But even so...

My less good qualities: Some struggles I have that I feel my parents should be helping me through

  • ADHD. This is why I don't attend a public school. When I did I talked out in class and distracted the other students. Instead of getting me help, my mother rejected the "idea" that I had ADHD (although an fMRI showed that I did) and just pulled me out of the school.
  • Depression. I haven't suffered from this for many years but I attained it when my mother was abusive. In my current situation I'm pretty sure it's coming back because of how terrible my family life has been for the past few months.
  • Headaches/migraines. I suffer from a medical condition that causes constant headaches and the occasional severe migraine. I can't handle loud noises or unnecessary constant movement, such as that from a small child. My 12-year-old sister constantly prances about, singing and shouting as if she's an 8-year-old. When I "look upon her with disdain" or ask her to calm down my mother rebukes me, saying I can handle it.

The downright crap about me/us: Severe trials I've gone through in the past

  • Crimes and court. I don't see any need to go into detail but I made a mistake that got me into the juvenile court systems for a few years. I understand that it was stressful to my parents and financially shaking, but I don't think they understand how big of an impact it had on my life too. It has caused quite a lot of trouble but I got no parental support when I needed it the most.
  • (previous) pornography 'addiction'. I haven't had this problem for a year. We're a religious family in which this is seen as a serious misdoing. I didn't see it on purpose at first but it caused a few years' worth of bad habits. I don't think this has made me a very good person in the eyes of my mother.
  • Abuse. A few years ago my mother was very physically abusive (she isn't anymore). She hit, kicked, pulled hair, etc. I know this hasn't helped our relationship much...

Other possibly useful information:

  • I do chores at home. I do all the typical chores such as dishes, taking out the trash, and sweeping. But instead of ever being thanked for helping with the family, instead I am criticized about my "bad job" every single time.
  • I have an advanced social life. I don't feel spiteful towards the entire world, just mostly towards my home. I have a supportive girlfriend and some great 'bros' that are always there to listen to/help me through my struggles. But after spending a fun afternoon with friends and returning home my parents will always make me feel down again.
  • I don't have much self-esteem. Due to the constant criticism of my mother and bullies at church, I don't think very highly of myself. I don't do self-harm but I don't see many reasons to esteem myself as a great person.

After all this, what I'm getting at is: Aside from counseling (which is no longer an option), what can I do to improve my situation at home? Is it normal for parents to treat me this way? If, in the case that the problem lies in me (as I'm constantly hearing), what can I do to improve my relationship with my mother/family?

EDIT: Thanks to everyone for your help! I appreciate all suggestions given. I accepted the answer I did because it contained the advice that seemed to start the most change in my family over the past few days. Thanks for your support!

  • I'd like to state that there's no need to be afraid to answer/comment. I understand there may be some fear of insensitivity/immaturity, as I'm a youth. Please, speak to me as if I hadn't given my age. I've been on the SE network for a few years now (not with this account) - I know how to write/read as an adult.
    – UR MOM
    Nov 22, 2016 at 9:38
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    You've told us a lot about you and next to nothing about your parents. What are the negative things they do and say? How are either of them abusive? Is there anything positive about their parenting? We can't advise you with only half of the story. Thanks. Nov 22, 2016 at 12:37
  • @anongoodnurse I did? Sorry if it was unclear - I thought I'd stated, after every item about myself, what their response was.
    – UR MOM
    Nov 22, 2016 at 16:01
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    Incidentally, I'd just like to mention that you should be aware that pornography often presents an unrealistic vision of sexuality. It's to sex what Transformers is to robotics, and if you're not careful you may end up adopting beliefs about how you and girls/women should look and behave which may be damaging to your relationships in years to come, from incorrect ideas about what people should be expected to do, are physically capable of, etc. I think at your age, that's a very important point to stress. Especially since you've watched so much. Beware of how it can change you. Nov 24, 2016 at 11:56
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    I'm not referring to being addicted to pornography, my comment doesn't touch on addiction, it discusses the effect exposure has on beliefs and attitudes to sex and yourself and women, which are not often discussed when teens start indulging, and are thus left unchallenged for too long. Nov 24, 2016 at 16:14

3 Answers 3


Well, first I'd suggest you give counseling a chance. There are lots of ways this can be arranged, including working with someone at school, such as a social worker. It helped me not take things so personally.

Talking regularly with a counselor can also be helpful for a person's self-esteem.

Second, model the behavior you'd like to receive. Compliment your siblings when they do something helpful, e.g. "I'm so glad you washed those dishes. That was a big help." You can model compliments you'd like to hear from your mom as well: "Mom, it feels good to make a positive contribution/that dinner was delicious/Thank you for cooking/ etc." Don't despair if you get a suspicious reaction the first few times. Just keep projecting a positive, cheerful attitude, and eventually, hopefully, your parents will take it in the positive spirit it's intended, and start speaking this way to you.

Third, pick one thing that's hurtful that your parents do or say, and let them know that it hurts. Pick a nice neutral time to let them know, and keep your voice as neutral as possible.1

For example, you might want to negotiate a non-butting-in policy regarding your piano practice. You can explain, "When I'm practicing piano, for me to get the most benefit, I need to be completely in my zone, without interference or distractions. How about if we pick one day a week when you can sit nearby and give me all the constructive feedback you like, and the other days, you find a project to do at the other end of the house, so my banging doesn't make you itch to come tell me what's wrong with my playing?

Similarly, you could invite your parents to tell you their top priority for a change in behavior they would like to see in you. Then see if you can give them the desired change, at least to some extent.

These mutual accommodations can be the basis for rebuilding trust in each other.

You seem to have a lot of self-awareness and a good ability to analyze and explain things. These are great strengths to have.

With regard to the bullies at church, please try to find an adult at church you trust enough to inform what's going on.

Lastly, keep in mind that adolescence is a difficult transition; and that some kind of equilibrium with your parents will come sooner or later, even if you decide not to try any of my suggestions, and even if you try some but they don't turn out to be helpful.

1 My older son told me recently that it hurts him to hear me comment to others on the phone about his job hunting not going well. I sincerely did not mean to hurt him with these comments. He showed me that I was actually being inconsiderate and I've been careful since then.

  • Thank you! I accepted this answer as it seemed the most helpful (although all answers contained great advice).
    – UR MOM
    Nov 25, 2016 at 7:34

This is from my personal experience:

To improve your situation at home you can start to be nice with your parents. Help them whenever you can and always wear a smile to them. Whenever they criticize you, instead of being upset, ask them advise to get better.

Also you can try to improve your relationship with your sister in this way, resolving the problem of the "singing and shouting". Do not "look upon her with disdain", let her do and hold on. Since you are older than she is, you can help her with homeworks (improving your relationship with both your sister and your mother - since she has less things to worry about). After some time she'll be nicer and will stop to "sing and shout" when you ask her (always politely).

About the Pornography 'addiction': it's normal, for someone that is 14 yo to visit pornography sites, just try to limit yourself or even ask your parents to help you (sincerely - otherwise it won't work) if you feel enough confident.

About the Crimes and court : by the info you provided we know very little but, since you admitted that you made a mistake, the only way you can do is to show your parents that you feel sorry about that and that you learned the lesson (maybe you already did).

About the Abuse : I suppose this part has stopped, but making feel the "physical" part to your mother could also help. I mean that, sometimes, you could hug her, give her a little kiss and so on..

The problem is never on one side so it's really probable that you all are doing something wrong. Make them feel that you are changed, that you really care, and the situation will surely improve. I know it's stressful and it's really frustrating, but it's the only way that helped me.

I tried to cover as much as possible, I really hope that this answer helped you.

Best regards and good luck.

  • Thanks for taking the time to answer! I'd like to make a few points. 1) I don't struggle with pornography anymore, I made that point because I don't think they appreciated it too much. 2) "You can help her with her homework" While that's a good idea, We all are homeschooled (I stated that I was, forgot to mention we all are) so my mother's already micromanaging her 'homework' in the first place.
    – UR MOM
    Nov 22, 2016 at 16:42
  • @anongoodnurse They're not abusive anymore, they were a few years back but they've stopped.
    – UR MOM
    Nov 22, 2016 at 16:46
  • @URMOM - Then what do you want to know from us? Nov 22, 2016 at 16:47
  • @anongoodnurse They're not being abusive - I don't feel like my family's in a good state and I'm wondering what I can do about it. My mother's unsupportive, unhelpful, etc. I don't know what to do. I'd also like to know if this is a problem that lies in me.
    – UR MOM
    Nov 22, 2016 at 16:52
  • @URMOM Even if you are all homeschooled you can offer your help to your mother.. the less stress she has, the better for you
    – A.Danzi
    Nov 23, 2016 at 7:41

This is so difficult because there's no way to understand the entire situation.

I will assume that as you are eldest, your parents have certain expectations of you acting like an adult.

I will also assume that you think you are trying to do just that.

The next time you do the right thing and are accused of not doing it well -- act like an adult. Request further data. If my boss was unhappy, I'd ask, "What can I do to improve this?" This may well trigger them to see that you are in fact doing it well.

Actions are the only way to have a person change the way you are perceived. Do things without being asked. Look for ways to help and show that you are acting in a mature manner.

Seriously, this is on you. You show them how great you are and IF they denigrate you, point out that you are trying and ask them how to do it better. You force them to revisit their opinions.

  • "There's no way to understand the entire situation" Yeah, you're right, only a counselor would actually be able to do that. I believe I put all information I saw relevant into the question, without overloading the community with too much useless garbage. Thanks for the answer! Your advice to act more like an adult seems particularly helpful, I'll try it out (along with all the advice in the answers) as much as I can.
    – UR MOM
    Nov 23, 2016 at 8:27
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    People get into habits -- just listen to adults argue. "You ALWAYS do this or that." That sort of argument is a lose/lose because no one ever moves on. The trick, imo, is to shake things up and ask what they think should be done. Then you can point out if you are doing that. Also, sometimes you do learn exactly what you need to work on.
    – WRX
    Nov 23, 2016 at 16:37

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