Strained Relations

Strained Relations: Help for Struggling Parents of Troubled Teens

Archive for September, 2009

Mara: I felt like a failure.

Posted by Marcia on September 27, 2009

As a result of writing a book about parenting troubled teens, sometimes I find myself following developments in other’s lives. I’m hearing or reading real pain, anguish, and sometimes fear.

“Mara”, wrote that she felt like a failure. Her 17 year old daughter, “Jane” is depressed, skipping school, has abandoned favorite activities, and sleeps as much as possible. They’re working with a physician to get her up and moving around, experimenting with different anti-depressants, but there are other dynamics at work.

Mara’s husband is controlling and demanding, and when he can’t control Jane, he demands Mara do so. Of course, Mara can’t control Jane, and then she is berated and treated terribly by her husband.
Every day there’s another fight, and Mara never knows who’ll start the next argument, she only knows there will be one. She watches what she says and how she acts, but walking on eggshells for years at a time is not a reasonable way to live.

Over the years, Mara withdrew from family and friends, mortified that they might discover her horrible family life and judge her. She has defined herself as a wife and a mother, and because neither relationship is working, she felt she was a failure.

She remembers a time when she was delighted to be a wife and mom, thrilled with her child, and had dreams and hopes for a wonderful, close family.

The realities of her life and the crushed dreams of a good marriage and good relationship with her child had become too much for her. Mara writes that if she could have glimpsed her future, she would never have had a child.

She read my book at a time when she needed to know that nice people, good people, sometimes find their lives spinning out of control, and there are ways to gather oneself together and find solutions to problems. She reached out for additional help and has shared the truth of her family life with her parents and siblings. Instead of judging Mara, they are helping her.

Mara is in counseling and my prediction is that she will divorce her husband, wait until Jane has completed school, and then will tell her to leave the house. As she has been examining what went wrong, what she did right, what she would have done differently, she is also learning that she did not stand up for herself against her husband or her daughter. She is developing that ability to assert herself, and that’ll help her change her life.

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