Direct Answers – Mirror, Mirror

Mirror, Mirror

I'm a girl, 14, and I live at home with my family. I've had problems with my mother all of my life. Nothing serious, at least nothing dangerous, but since I could speak in full sentences, we've had these screaming matches.

We blame each other and I will take some of the blame. But she, at the ripe age of 45, is the one doing the cussing, threatening and calling me the brat. Shouldn't she be behaving like the adult she is supposed to be?

She works long hours and loves to complain, and she takes all of her anger out on us, her family, but especially on me. Everyone who knows our family well, even my mother's friends, know it.

She's not a dysfunctional person, but she seems to me like a dysfunctional mother. I love her, of course, but I don't know what she wants of me. Case in point: I spilled my liquid foundation in a plastic drawer, which took forever to clean up.

She got super upset, saying she had told me that I didn't have time to get ready, which I honestly do not recall her saying, but whatever. She blew up, started cussing, threw all of the things out of the drawer and told me I would "never be allowed to wear makeup ever again."

I guess she wanted me to start crying because I "disappointed" her, and when I didn't she called me remorseless. In the car I tried to explain myself but she wouldn't listen. I tried to apologize but she still wouldn't listen.

She regularly says I don't have the ability to feel remorse (as though I'm a psychopath; I'm not), but if she won't hear my apology then she has no argument.

I'm not being respected as a human being in my own home, and she sets a tone for my brother and sister. Her message is clear: what I say and what I think could not matter less. It's a toxic environment, and I know I will look back on my childhood with sadness.

I need a solution.

~ Briana

Briana, centuries ago in England whipping was a common way to discipline children. It was, however, considered unacceptable to lay a hand on a young prince. After all, one day that boy might be king. So when the prince misbehaved a boy of the same age, his whipping boy, was punished instead.

It is not your fault that your mom hates her job and may hate her life. But spilt makeup, like spilled milk, does not make the spiller a monster, and your letter makes you sound like a normal teenager.

What do your repeated apologies tell your mom? I was in the wrong. But you weren't in the wrong. All you need to say is, "Mom, I didn't mean to spill the makeup. It was an accident." If she starts screaming, don't scream back. Walk away. Sometimes children have to teach their parents how to behave.

You need a way to vent your feelings, and your mom needs a mirror to her own behavior. There is one way to accomplish both. Let your mom's friends or a trusted relative or your school counselor know what is going on.

If things get bad, you could even record an argument on your phone and put it in the cloud. That way, when someone says it can't be that bad, you have the evidence. Let an impartial party decide on the next step. If you do this, though, you can't do it to "set up" your mom, only to record a "normal" exchange.

Your mother is doing what she is doing without any repercussions, so she feels she is in the right. But she doesn't get to make you a whipping boy, because the person she is most angry with is herself.

~ Wayne & Tamara

Column for the week of May 23, 2016

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