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I'm 23 and my parents divorced about a year ago and since then, they both make me feel like I'm less important/no longer needed.

I live with my mom, she is lovely but only when the house is clean. I do most of the laundry, most of the cooking, all the dishes, all the cleaning and stuff (even her own bedroom!). Keep in mind that our house is 120m^2. Besides that, every saturday she expects me to help her at her job (5am - 2pm). She is that kind of person that you cannot explain that I have my exams and I have to take my studies time, or else that I want to see my friends. She indeed has her part in "house duties" and that is (as she understands) buying food. There is no way of standing up to her, she has excellent memory for things that you did wrong and she would not hestiate to use that against me.

Now, don't get me wrong I completely understand that she is working, she may be exhausted after work and wants just some help from her child but I'm also working, I'm trying to pursue my career at my profession. As much as I would love to help her, she is constantly outraging as soon as something does not meet her expectations, that is very sad and discouraging.

Now my father, there was never any issue with him. He is cool, calm and now he lives with another woman, she is fine I got used to her and even had few nice chats with her. But somehow, after divorce I feel like he is trying to get rid of me but he will never admit it. He sends me child support, he has to, so I guess that's not any way of showing how much he cares. Anyway the money is mostly given to my mom.

I'm very emotional about all of this, I dont want to lose contact with them at all. Is moving out the only way to free myself from my mom? How can I help my contact with dad?

  • I am a little unclear, are you employed at a job aside from your schooling, or when you say you are working, do you mean school? Other than whatever support dad is contributing, are you contributing financially in any way? If not, that does change things, as someone who is grown. Even when in school, it's possible to contribute financially & if you do not, then perhaps she sees the household duties as your contribution. – threetimes Aug 2 '17 at 13:25
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    I work aside from schooling, part-time. Sometimes i buy some groceries when she' not home yet from work and I don't have any problem with it. The problem is, she expects me to do most of the household duties. There even was a situation when I couldn't be back from work sooner than her, she got mad because I didnt "plan" my day that the dinner was ready for her. As a result she didn't buy groceries the day after (as a lesson I guess?). – Zyraf Aug 2 '17 at 13:37
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    Have you asked her to sit down with you and then map out what her actual expectations of you are? It would also give you a chance to tell her what you have in mind (like how many average hours of study per week, etc) and make some sort of cooperative effort to make a livable schedule that respects all people involved. You can also offer, instead of occasionally picking up groceries to set some livable level of "rent", based on whatever your income is, so it shows some effort & levels the field a little as roommates. – threetimes Aug 2 '17 at 13:47
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    I can see how you might feel your dad cares less, but how does that apply to your mom? Did she not expect you to work around the house before the divorce? Did she have to get a job because of the divorce? How did she treat you before that's different now? – anongoodnurse Aug 2 '17 at 14:37
  • Please remember what comments are for, and if you have an answer, write an Answer. – Acire Aug 2 '17 at 19:05
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When people are angry and depressed they generally wont tell you why. Oftentimes they can't even express why. I know a mother who went through erratic emotional cycles with every single one of her children as they grew up and left the house. This got worse as she got older and experienced menopause when her last child got married and left. She would eventually get into a big argument with the son/daughter, tell them that if they did such and such a thing she would never talk to them again, her child would go do the offending thing, and then later she would call them and make the relationship work after she saw that her ultimatums didn't work, but avoid any specific apology.

I think the impetus for these emotional episodes was that she thought her life's purpose was defined by how her kids turned out, so them deviating and doing their own thing drove her crazy. I would imagine your mother is experiencing a more reasonable and also more tragic version of that. She has lost her husband of 23+ years and also knows that her son will soon leave her too (I assume). So not only has the family she invested 20+ years on broken apart, but she will soon be totally alone. My guess is that she feels that everything is pointless at this moment. You shouldn't be surprised if she also cannot focus at work and ends up losing her job.

In a situation like this there is no such thing as fair. There is love and then there is fairness. The two concerns are incompatible and mutually exclusive; the more you focus on one the less you will on the other. Once someone starts focusing on fairness they generally develop a one-sided self-righteous attitude which becomes unfair in the end. You have to decide what you can do and can't do and accept that you are more emotionally stable at this moment. Eventually you will do something that has the potential to spark the big argument; you move out, start dating a girl, etc... She might be reasonable, or She might try to force you to do what she wants. In any of these fights just keep calm and remember that eventually she will calm down. Just don't say anything stupid and go for a walk if you get too angry. In my experience I tried to draw the line at things that I felt violated my deeper sense of self. Generally speaking, doing the dishes and cooking aren't on that list. Remain self-critical, but don't take what she says too seriously. You have to be the adult in some ways now.

Just do what you can. Never try to talk with her about things that upset you when she is grumpy. Avoid critical thoughts and try to focus on what is good, both now and from before the divorce.

As for your father, he is probably in pain avoidance mode. The strongest imprint on his mind of his former marriage is now a painful divorce. Although you have nothing to do with that, he probably can't help remembering the pain and also feeling guilty when you are around.

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With the money that your father is providing, can you afford to move out? That might be the best thing here. You will have to do so eventually, and if you are thinking it will be easier later, my guess is that it is likely to be the opposite.

Your mom has just lost the one person who she depended on for support, both emotionally and financially, so it is very possible that she is unthinkingly expecting you to take your father's place, at least in some respects. Expecting you to contribute "equally" to the household is a danger signal, and her controlling behavior might be a way for her to keep you from "leaving her, too". Or is this behavior a pattern that she had with your father as well?

Unfortunately, this is not a healthy situation for either of you. If she is trying to use you as an emotional crutch to fill a husband shaped void, or even if she is just trying to control your relationship with her, this will get worse over time, and it will be even harder for you to leave later. You need to separate yourself from an unhealthy, dependent relationship with her so that you can develop a healthy one, as two adults independent of each other.

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