QUESTION: I've got a problem with a deadbeat. Not a man, but a woman--my mother. I think my mother loves me, but lately I feel like she thinks of me more as her personal ATM than a daughter. The problem is my mother seems to have a phobia, something called "workaphobia." My mother only seems to want to work under what she considers to be ideal conditions, despite the fact that she doesn't have the best marketable skills and hasn't tried to seek education/training to obtain those skills. There's always an excuse for why she quits a job or doesn't start a job she's been selected for. Some excuses are valid, but some are pure bullshit. Plus, my attitude is that a lot of us work jobs we may not like, but realize that the bills have to be paid somehow.
What also makes me angry is that she won't ask for or accept money from my brother. I think her rationale is that he's not married like me, less mature, not as financially-stable, and doesn't have as well-paying a job. What she seems to forget, however, is that I have more bills and responsibility than him. I feel like I'm being penalized for being stable and mature.
I think my mother thinks I've forgotten where I came from, the ghetto. I'll
never forget my ghetto upbringing, nor do I try to hide it, because it's a part
of me, but it's also something I'm determined to do everything in my power to avoid returning to or raising my child in.
I've got a lot of anger built up in me over this situation, and I'm trying not
to let it erupt at the wrong time or under the wrong circumstances. I truly
want to avoid an argument with my mother, but at the same time I know we need to discuss this, because I've decreased my communication with her because of my anger over this situation. In what way should I bring up this topic that may be least likely to lead to all-out war between us?
GARLAND: Out of everything in your question, you know the one word that caught me? GHETTO.
You said that you came from the GHETTO and you were brought up in the GHETTO and its a part of you... As I see it, GHETTO is an interesting word. To me, GHETTO is all mental, it's a mindset, it's an attitude, it's a state of being. A lot of people figure that the ghetto is where the projects are, the tall overcrowded, poorly maintained low income housing of most big cities. Or the ghetto is the run down neighborhood with hookers, crack dealers, and liquor stores on each corner. But GHETTO is a mindset.
You can live in a million dollar home, surrounded by other million dollar homes and still have neighbors that are GHETTO... they carry a lazy, triflin', self centered, anti-social attitude with them. They carry a GHETTO mindset.
I'm afraid your mom might be GHETTO. She doesn't want to work, she wants to mooch off of your hard work, and worst of all, she's making things hardest on probably her BEST child. Unfortunately, a lot of mothers coddle their male children - they say to themselves, "society is so hard on black men." These mothers accept that their male kids might not be worth a dime, so they bum off of their "girls." And what better way to keep you brokedown like her, than to tug at your economic foundation? The monthly "hit up" for cash.
I think you should just cut her off at the ankles. When she calls with her hand out, just tell her, "No." And don't act like its a big deal, just say, "Naw, I can't help you out, Ma." If she gets upset, just act like something else is going on and say, "Hey Ma, I gotta run, I'll talk to you later." It probably wouldn't help you to explain to her that she's crappin' her life away. So, you can just be a gold mine that dried up. But keep in mind, she may NEVER lose her ghetto mentality... just stop promoting it with an open purse. Good luck!
Chuck: Nobody will hem you up like your family. They know that you love them. They know that you would be reluctant to sever ties with them. So some family members will take advantage of that emotional connection and generosity as long as they can.
Your mom probably feels like this: "I changed her diapers when she was a baby. I made sacrifices for her as she grew up. She shouldn't have any problem helping me." But that line of thinking doesn't get you very far with me. Because, A) You were a child. What was she gonna do, send you to the mines to work at eight years old?; and, B) She is a grown woman, who presumably has no handicaps to prevent her from earning a living herself.
Your mother probably has, at one time or another, realized just about everything you stated about her. But awareness has to be accompanied by a will to change things. A will your mother seems to lack right now. I would hate to think that it might take something serious, like a financial or health emergency to get her off her butt, but that may be what would have to happen.
If, as you say, you're becoming angry dealing with this situation, you need to confront her about it, before you lose it, and hit her with an outburst that may have lasting effects on your relationship. I would not just approach her cold, though. I'd wait until she made another request for money. The way you make it sound, that won't be long.
I would then tell her how I felt, emphasize my feelings that I was being used, and the different treatment I thought that my brother was getting.
I'm not going to lie to you and say that this is a discussion that you can have, embrace, and walk away from. It could get tense. It could get ugly. But you need to have the talk, regardless of how it ends up. Maybe the lack of someone to fall back on financially will force her to take more responsibility for her life. I hope it will.