My mother has one set of rules for family, and one set for me

I hope to be able to move out in the distant future, but how do I survive until then?

PROBLEM: I’m recently graduated from college. I have a good job, on a good salary, but none of this is acknowledged by my mother. My surrounding family are all very supportive of me and the choices I’ve made to get myself to where I am now, but I don’t feel my mother is.

This is not my main issue.

I live at home, and in the house is my mother, myself, my brother and our dog – our dad passed away a number of years ago. We do not work as a unit. We are all adults and my brother constantly gets stuck acting as a bridge between my mother and I. If there is anything being done around the house, eg renovations, I have no input. But if something needs to be done, I’ll be instructed to do so. I cannot leave clothes in our utility room after they’ve been dried even though they are not on public view and literally doing no harm. I cannot leave my laptop or other personal items in rooms other than my bedroom – which at this point is a self-contained flat without plumbing. I can’t take my work rucksack off when I get in and leave it under the hall table, it will be moved to the middle step of the stairs to passively aggressively tell me to move it to my room and sitting under the hall table I’ll see my mother’s bag.

I want to get out, but I can’t. I can’t find anywhere convenient or near work. I can find nowhere on a bus or Luas route that is in any way affordable. I do also have a social life with The George and Panti Bar being the locations all my friends and I tend to end up in. Moving out and having to make going out on a Friday night a long journey would cost a fortune in transport, but, I’ll put this another way, social life is a necessity.

So with moving out continuing to look like something that I may be able to do in the dim and very distant future, how do I survive until then?

I feel like I rent a room in what is supposed to be my home and I can’t do this for much longer. It is depressing.


ADVICE: Of course you want it all, but being an adult requires some sacrifice and you are now looking at the reality of growing up and making hard choices. Moving out of home is an important stage of development but it is very difficult for young adults to do this as they cannot afford the exorbitant rents or mortgages that living in the city centre entails so they are faced with a choice: ask their parents or family for a shared living experience or move out to more affordable accommodation wherever it can be found. You have chosen the former but if this is to be successful, changes need to happen both in attitude and behaviour.

You see the fault as lying largely in your mother’s arena and there is some truth in this, ie she appears to be very strict on rules and you certainly feel she does not acknowledge or appreciate you. However, if change is to occur, then you will be most successful by looking towards yourself for that change as it is totally within your own control.

The lack of appreciation or understanding is also held on your side as you are resentful and angry at her seeming desire to push you out of life at home, but she is a bereaved woman and perhaps her grief is taking much longer than might be expected has been allowed for.

Anger is a natural part of grief and there is a possibility that her anger at her loss is being targeted at you. Any opening for compassion or understanding might break the deadlock between you and if you could find any part of you that could see her as a suffering adult rather than a powerful, denying mother, you might have a chance to create a different relationship.

A very first adult step would be to invite your mother to a discussion of living arrangements where you offer shared responsibility for the household. This would mean that you contribute to the household both financially and with housework, but in return you have rights as an adult sharing a living space.

There is also the possibility that your mother is responding to your sexual orientation in her interaction with you and if this is the case, it is hugely important for you to have this brought into the open and your choices respected. Therefore, I suggest family therapy sessions or even mediation that can offer support for this new relationship structure to develop.

It will take time and commitment, but if you are going to stay living at home, this will be worth the effort and the added benefit will be great self-development and growth.