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My mother is mean, thinks I’m very ugly

Dear Michael,

I am an 18-year-old university student. My parents are separated and I live with my dad.

My problem is that my mum is really mean to me. She doesn’t give me anything whenever I ask. Most of the time when I ask her for money to buy something, she refuses, and when she does say yes, she later backs out.

She also tells me that I am fat and should lose weight. My friends tell me that I am pretty but I find it hard to believe them because my mum doesn’t think so.

I have starved myself on several occasions so that I can lose weight in vain. I cry myself to sleep all the time and something deep within me wishes that one day I would wake up and find out that my mum and I are not related, that would make me happy.

Please advise. Jane

Dear Jane,

I am glad your attempts to starve yourself so as lose weight have been unsuccessful. That is certainly not the way to lose weight, if it is your desire to do so.

How long have your parents been separated? How long have you lived with your dad? It cannot be easy for you.

Separation does affect other people apart from the two protagonists, and not least among them, the children. Are you an only child?

Children can end up suffering because of their parents anger toward or frustration with each other. You seem to be a recipient of such anger and frustration.

It would not be wise to begin suggesting why your mum behaves the way she does, but we can try to interpret it. You have described her meanness as her refusal to give you anything when you ask for it; backing out when she says she will, and picking on you regarding your weight.

Please, keep in mind that many of your mother’s actions and words might have to do more with your dad, than they do with any particular feeling toward you.

In light of this, there are several possible interpretations as you have already concluded – mum does not like me; mum has money but doesn’t want to buy me anything; mum lies to me; mum has good intentions, but then realises at the last minute that she can’t keep her promise, and several others that you might be able to think of.

You have to make a choice – to believe any one or all of these, or find out from your mum exactly what she is not saying.

You already believe one of them, and it leaves you crying yourself to sleep and wishing you were not related to your mum. The other option would require wisdom and courage, and could also provide the platform for discussing what she says about your weight and how it makes you feel.

Wisdom would call on you to know who your mum listens to. It may be her parents or her friend who would understand where you’re coming from. They should be people with whom she would less likely feel slighted in knowing that you discussed her with them.

Without minimising the emotions you have spoken of, might it also be helpful to see a nutritionist who will tell you whether your weight needs attention or not.

Do you have a pressing personal problem? Seek advice from Michael Oyier at [email protected]