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Sunday, 25 March 2001

Can't Live with Her -- Can't Live Without Her

Written by  Silvet Sufar Shalit, PhD

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QDear WholeFamily Counselor,

I need information concerning my mother. She has been living with my husband and my two-year-old and me for almost a year. This is not the first time either. When my husband and I just married she moved in the first time. We wished then that she would have gotten her life together.

My mother is divorced from a man, my father, who I am not close too. He was an abusive alcoholic. My mom and I have had a rough life together, between being homeless and physically and mentally abused. We have come a long way together. That was then and this is now. I feel that I can't live my life as I want (just as I felt when I was younger). I finally left my controlling mom and married a beautiful man, at the age of 25.

Now, I am almost 30 and I feel the same way. She hasn't been able to get her life together. She was married to my father for almost 20 years and was a housewife. Before she married, she was a stewardess and a beautician. Then she met my father and all went downhill. She finally left my father (20 years) after he really physically abused me when I was 15.

She always has an excuse why she can't find work .One reason, she says it's because of her sickness (allergic to wheat-dairy as well). She can't get on any SS because she doesn't qualify. She doesn't have her own car. She has worked a few years in the past. She keeps threatening me that she is leaving. I worry myself sick, just as I did when I was younger. My husband just puts up with a lot, I love him for it.

How do I talk to my mom about her finally getting a life -- without her getting on the defensive and ending up homeless? Sometimes, I feel I haven't helped her enough. I have been so frustrated and sad in my heart, for such a long time. My husband said, I can't live with her and can't live without her. Please, what should I do and say to my mom. Please write me ASAP, it's really getting so stressful I need another opinion besides my husbands.

Thank you for your time.

Disappointed Daughter

ADear "Disappointed Daughter",

You and your mother have a history of physical and verbal abuse. Since you do not mention any siblings I am assuming that you and your mother were all you had for each other. Your mutual loyalty gave you the support and security you needed.

You went on and married a beautiful man. Your mother was left without her main source of support; you. She held on to your support by coming to live with you after you were married and now again a few years later.

You are now in a situation where you are torn between your loyalty and concern for your mother and your natural wish to have a separate life with your husband and child. You wish your mother could get her life together and be able to manage independently so that you don't have to worry about her.

I am assuming that your mother feels helpless and insecure and very afraid that she cannot really manage on her own. Your mother needs to build her self-confidence and self-esteem so that she can live independently. For this she needs additional sources of support. I would encourage you to suggest to her that she join a support group for abused women, which could help your mother a great deal. If your mother is anxious or chronically depressed, you might want to suggest that she consult a psychiatrist to evaluate the need for medication.

Your mother living with you is reinforcing your dependence on each other. The natural course of development requires that parents and grown children go on to have separate lives while maintaining their love and loyalty to each other. Living together is interfering with this process of growth. I suggest that you help your mother find her own living arrangements. You will continue to support and love each other while each has her own separate life.

Dr. Silvet Sufar Shalit

Last modified on Monday, 16 January 2012 18:58
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Silvet Sufar Shalit, PhD

Dr. Silvet Sufar Shalit is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. She is a certified clinical psychologist with twenty years experience in psychotherapy.. She works in a psychiatrist outpatient clinic and has a private practice. with twenty years experience in psychotherapy. Silvet studied acting in New York, freelances as a creative writer and is an accomplished photographer. Silvet Sufar Shalit is the mother of Eitan, a 20-year-old autistic young man.

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