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Cher
Cher, Teacher
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 18564
Experience:  Extensive Experience working with Children/Teens; M.A. Teacher/Tutor 40+ yrs.; Parent of 2
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Im 20 years old, and my sister is 15. We have a very difficult

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I'm 20 years old, and my sister is 15. We have a very difficult situation at home... My mother is a very oppressive and dominating woman. She is extremely religious, bordering fanatic. In the past she had been hospitalized for depression, but in recent years has seemed to have figured out how to maintain her composure. Whether or not she has a mental condition seems irrelevant anymore. At home, the entire household is at her mercy. My father cannot stand up to her, I cannot stand up to her, neither can my sister. But constantly, my sister and her get into fights which escalate quickly. As my mother loses her temper, quickly, she becomes very loud and violent and her logic seems to go out the window. She tells us we are "allies of Satan," and by claiming she stands besides God she puts us in a very bad position. I have no idea how to deal with the situation any more. She stated, the only thing she would listen to is God, Jesus or the Bible. Nothing else.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Cher replied 5 years ago.
HelloCustomer and thanks for your question.

I'm sorry to hear things are so difficult at home for you and your sister. You mentioned your mother was hospitalized in the past, for depression, but is she currently on any anti-depressant medication or any medications at all? If not, this might be a good next step, so have her see her personal physician who might refer her to a Board certified counselor or therapist where she can talk out her concerns and be prescribed an appropriate medication.

It would also be beneficial for you to see a therapist as a family, to have someone who's trained and experienced in these matters, and totally unbiased, facilitate communication between your mother and the rest of the family, especially your younger sister, who seems to be suffering the brunt of your mother's words and actions.

Because she is deeply religious, a clergyman who is also a counselor, might be able to reach her on a deeper level than a secular counselor, however, I still do believe she would benefit from medication. Your description of the situation indicates she may also have a bipolar personality and this too, can be managed with medication. Sometimes, chemical imbalances in the brain are present, and cause these types of behaviors; medication helps to restore the balance.

I would advise you this, until your mother and your family are able to start counseling: tell your sister to avoid situations where it will end up in a disagreement with your mother. The same goes for you; try to stay out of her way, do your own thing, and don't say anything that will set her off. Avoid all controversial subjects. Until she gets the help she needs, keeping things low-key within the household will benefit everyone. Your poor sister is at an age when things can sometimes be tough, in general--being an adolescent, etc. These problems shouldn't be placed upon your shoulders, but you're doing the right thing in recognizing something has to change and in trying to make things better for your sister and your family. You're a good and considerate person for undertaking this
responsibility! : )

I hope things will improve as soon as you start seeing a family counselor and your mother gets the medical help she may need.

Good luck, and please let me know if you need further help. I'll always be here to help you through the rough times.

Cher
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

First off… thank you so much. You truly seem like someone who cares, even if it’s such an informal and thin connection between you and I, you seem to care and thank you so much. But, unfortunately, let me fill in those details you alluded to. When she came out of the hospital she was taking medication, but made the decision to discontinue against Doctor’s orders. Since then she has not, and it will not be possible to get her to take medication voluntarily. She is extremely sensitive to that subject, and becomes very angry at any mention. She claims she is one with God, following his laws and for that reason she is above any need for medication. As I mentioned before, she refuses to take any advice from anyone period. If the advice is something she disagrees with, it falls upon deaf ears. And also, sadly we were partaking in family therapy at the Ackerman Institute here in NYC but to no avail. One session touched upon the subject of physical abuse, and my mother got very upset. She refuses any further sessions, and with her absent the entire process was ruined. We discontinued.

So taking those final details into consideration, could you imagine anything else we can do? It feels like the only thing possible would be to place Abby in foster care, or perhaps have her live with a relative. That is a very unrealistic idea though, sadly. I feel so burdened, because I can’t seem to be able to do anything under these circumstances… Godforbid my sister was to become depressed, or ultimately hurt herself. But I truly feel that something bad is going to happen… My sister refuses to be dominated, my mother refuses to be defied, and I feel like a sitting duck awaiting a catastrophe…

Expert:  Cher replied 5 years ago.
Hi again, and you're most welcome; thanks for your reply with additional information.

I do think, if you can manage it with your father's permission, that Abby would be much better off living with a relative she feels safe/close with, and/or being placed in foster care (last resort) to get out from under your mother's abusive behavior.

Could you and your sister move someplace else, together? I don't know if legally, you have to be 21, in NY, to take on that responsibility, but you could find out by speaking to a lawyer.

If you and Abby could continue with family therapy at the Ackerman Institute, that would be helpful, as well.

It's a shame that you have to have such big problems on your young shoulders, but protecting your sister until she's an adult (at 18) is very mature and thoughtful of you. If you feel your sister may be in a deep depression and possibly hurt herself, due to your home situation, she might benefit from anti-depressants as well. I don't advocate medication for ones so young, but sometimes, it's necessary.

You're going to have to have a serious talk with your father, and your mother may need to be hospitalized again, even if it's against her wishes. Her behavior sounds erratic and dangerous enough, to warrant it, but again, this would need to be determined by a doctor, and possibly a lawyer. Her actions are bordering on delusional, so she's not seeing things as they are; this is evident in her, as you mentioned, 'fanatic' religious views, at the current time.

It's very sad, but she needs professional help and if she's not willing to seek it out or accept it, your father and you, being over the age of majority, are the only ones who can do something about it. Talk to your father and tell him she is being hurtful to Abby, and actions must be taken. He doesn't need to discuss it with your mom, because she's never going to agree, but you're already aware of this.

If you have any older relatives, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc., ask for help with your sister, and for your mother, as well.

Please keep me posted. Thanks.

Cher

Expert:  Cher replied 5 years ago.
Hi again, and you're most welcome; thanks for your reply with additional information.

Please excuse the delay; we are experiencing site problems and I've been trying to send this answer to you for over 30 minutes.

I do think, if you can manage it with your father's permission, that Abby would be much better off living with a relative she feels safe/close with, and/or being placed in foster care (last resort) to get out from under your mother's abusive behavior.

Could you and your sister move someplace else, together? I don't know if legally, you have to be 21, in NY, to take on that responsibility, but you could find out by speaking to a lawyer.

If you and Abby could continue with family therapy at the Ackerman Institute, that would be helpful, as well.

It's a shame that you have to have such big problems on your young shoulders, but protecting your sister until she's an adult (at 18) is very mature and thoughtful of you. If you feel your sister may be in a deep depression and possibly hurt herself, due to your home situation, she might benefit from anti-depressants as well. I don't advocate medication for ones so young, but sometimes, it's necessary.

You're going to have to have a serious talk with your father, and your mother may need to be hospitalized again, even if it's against her wishes. Her behavior sounds erratic and dangerous enough, to warrant it, but again, this would need to be determined by a doctor, and possibly a lawyer. Her actions are bordering on delusional, so she's not seeing things as they are; this is evident in her, as you mentioned, 'fanatic' religious views, at the current time.

It's very sad, but she needs professional help and if she's not willing to seek it out or accept it, your father and you, being over the age of majority, are the only ones who can do something about it. Talk to your father and tell him she is being hurtful to Abby, and actions must be taken. He doesn't need to discuss it with your mom, because she's never going to agree, but you're already aware of this.

If you have any older relatives, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc., ask for help with your sister, and for your mother, as well.

Please keep me posted. Thanks.

Cher

Expert:  Cher replied 5 years ago.
It seems, due to our site problems, my answer came through twice...

Cher
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
...if i could tape some of my mom's behavior. Is there anything I would be able to do with that?

The only thing left i think is to focus on Abby and try and teach her a healthier way to deal with my mom. Conflicting with her will only lead to more problems, so Abby is the only thing left which can change in this situation i think. I just worry about 'what if'... What if im unsuccessful.
Expert:  Cher replied 5 years ago.
Hi again,

I think taping your mom's behavior is a good idea, but I couldn't say whether it would be admissable in a court-type setting, because I'm not a lawyer, however, you might be able to use it if you want to get Abby out of the home.

I agree that a change in Abby's reaction to your mom's behavior, would enable her to deal with it, better, but it might not be so easy for her to change. If you explain to her that it's best to just 'let it go', when a conflict is about to arise with your mom, she will be better off. Of course, if your mom is making unreasonable demands of Abby, she can still be respectful, but not do what she's told. The 'war of words', however, CAN be stopped, and if you teach Abby how better to deal with this, it should make things better.

Try to be positive at this time, and don't think 'what if I'm unsuccessful'; visualize yourself succeeding, and don't let the worries of no success cloud your purpose--to keep Abby safe.

You said you were afraid Abby might become depressed enough over this problem, to hurt herself, and this must be your primary focus, as you said. As I mentioned, if there's any way she can go to counseling with you, or alone, this would be a good outlet for her and a Board Certified professional therapist/counselor experienced in working with teens, could give her good strategies to 'work around' the problem with your mom and avoid confrontations.

Cher
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
...if i click Accept? will i no longer be able to talk to you? Undecided
Expert:  Cher replied 5 years ago.
Hi again,

No, not at all. If you click Accept, it will not cut off our communication. We will still be able to 'talk' back and forth, and there will be no additional charge for the follow-ups.

Cher
Cher, Teacher
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 18564
Experience: Extensive Experience working with Children/Teens; M.A. Teacher/Tutor 40+ yrs.; Parent of 2
Cher and 2 other Parenting Specialists are ready to help you

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