Please help! Don't know where else to turn!
Hello Dr. Bradley,
I am a messed up teenager who feels like there is nowhere else to turn right now. It seems like I've been having problems with my family since god knows how long. I used to love school, get good grades and get into honors classes. Then, it seems as if out of nowhere I started to not care about school, get bad grades and not do well in the things I used to love. My mom is always on my case and screaming, and my dad will give the occasional 'grunt' and ignore me most of the time. My mom always complains to me about how it's all my fault that I'm screwing up, which makes me feel too pressured, but I just shrug it off with this stupid "I don't care" personality I've built around myself. All I get from adults nowadays is just constant scolding and yelling and "you're dumb for doing this" or "why can't you be like this" and I'm sick of it. I don't know if it's my family that's the problem, it's all me, or I'm just depressed or something. Please Dr. Bradley, I need help!
I hate to disagree with you but you are not nearly as messed up as you might think, since you are the one in your family who has wisely decided that living like this is not OK, and who has reached out for help. So congratulations for being so smart.
Make up a white flag and march into your parents room saying that you'd like to have a truce. Perhaps show them these messages. Tell them that you hate living like this, and that you're pretty sure they do as well. Ask that the family sit down with a counselor to sort all of this out to see what needs to be done to get you guys back to being that close, successful and loving family you once were. If they refuse, then go to your school counselor to ask for some help for yourself.
Please do these things immediately. That pain you're carrying is terrible, and things don't have to stay as they are, particularly given your wonderful strength and honesty.
Please keep us posted
Dr. Mike Bradley
Thank you so much for replying! You don't know how much that means. I've been trying to get my mom to read your book (not really my dad because it doesn't seem like he cares too much), and honestly I think I've been reading it WAY more than she does. She's always yelling at me to change and that I've gotten myself into this whole thing, therefore I have to get myself out. That seems seriously unfair to me; how can I get myself out of something that I don't even know how I got into in the first place?
It's not like I think they don't care or anything. They obviously do (or at least my mom does), for if they didn't, they wouldn't be on my case all the time. I just think they are going about the whole "caring" thing the wrong way. I try to tell my mom yelling doesn't solve anything and isn't going to make me want to do what she wants, but it seems like she just thinks "oh hes just saying that to get me off of his case so he doesn't have to do homework." What can I do here to make her believe me?
Also, it seems as if my school principal is trying to fill the role of "dad" in my life. What I mean is that he always wants to see my schoolwork to make sure I did it. If I do, he gives me praise. If I don't, he pulls the whole "I'm disappointed in you; you are capable why aren't you doing this blah blah" act. That doesn't seem so bad, but listen to this: at one of our "weekly meetings" with me and my mom, he told me that I had homework due tomorrow that my english teacher said wasn't near completion whatsoever. He asked me if I was going to complete it, and I said maybe. So he said to me that he'd like to see it first thing tomorrow morning, and if I don't do it, I'm going to stay after school with him from 3 - 5 to finish it. So I told him that I'd honestly just rather do it by myself, as I work best alone. Then, he said to me, almost chuckling, "There isn't much of a choice involved, Sam. You're gonna do it, and that's final." Now I didn't say anything after that, but all that did was make me real pissed off. He's pulling the whole "I can make you do stuff because I'm your principal and you're just a dumb kid" thing. He doesn't seem to be showing ANY signs of backing off, so how do I get this guy (who is a pretty intimidating ex-army general) to chill out and work with me?
I'm sorry if that seems like a lot, but I just feel like I'm screwed over and I need a professional's help here! Thanks a lot for giving me some hope,
I hate to tell you this but you can't change other people---you can change your responses to them. Your principal is in charge and it is you that must adjust to his rules, whether they seem fair to you or not. That's the way the world works. And that principal sounds as if he is trying to teach you that lesson in a soft way before the world hammers you one day.
Again, please consider seeing a counselor to help you to work out these issues about authority figures (i.e. your parents and teachers).
Dr. Mike Bradley
I'm totally aware that you can't change other people; I've figured that out myself. I'm not talking about changing him, just getting him to stop helping me. I'm pretty sure that's not really in the realm of "changing other people", and it's do-able. Do you think if I ask my mom to ask him to stop trying to help, he would?
Sam, you must see a counselor who will can learn more about you and your family in order to give better answers to your questions than I can in this format.
Take care and good luck.
Dr. Mike Bradley