Relationship My mother makes herself my responsibility


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To offer some context, my mother is 53 years old and I am 28 years old. She has numerous health issues including suffering from an auto-immune thyroid issue, and she has suffered from depression for years. I also think she may be suffering from PTSD due to having had a traumatic life full of abusive relationships. In the past year or she has been increasingly pointing out how she feels there's moments when she feels like she's going insane, and she might 'do something bad' and how she feels like ending her life.
I have advised her repeatedly to go seek professional help, but her tendency is to use me as her emotional crutch. As her daughter and only child, I can understand why. The partner she has now makes her very unhappy, they fight all the time and triggers her panic attacks. However, she is financially dependent on him. For years, she couldn't get a job due to looking after her elderly dog and now that the dog is dead, she can't due to the country she is in imposing her to vaccinate herself first (she is afraid with her health problems, the vaccine will cause her issues so she refuses to do it). There have also been financial struggles impeding her from going to a therapist but every time she did have money, she preferred investing in her car because she sees that as an 'escape' option if she ever wants to leave my stepfather (he's not physically abusive, but like I said, they argue a lot).

Now my circumstances are the following. I live in a different country. I have significant debt that I am trying - and struggling - to pay off, which I've incurred partially to help her and partially because I have done my own fair share of mistakes when younger with credit cards. I am not happy in my job, as it has nothing to do with what I've studied. I am not happy with my career, or with the stage I am currently at in my life. I struggle with my mental health on a mental basis, and I am having to live in shared accommodation as I can't afford to live on my own.

I love my mother, I do not wish to hurt her or make her feel she's being abandoned. But she insists that in one year's time, I must arrange for her to be able to join me. I tried to explain, as gently as possible, that it'll be very hard financially and it's best to focus on her getting therapy in the country she lives in (as she knows the language there). That maybe she could regain her independence after a period therapy. She says she will, but then she'll have 'bad days' and she'll just automatically say things like 'I have no choice, in one year's time I will move in with you' or 'I know you think you can live alone, but you'll regret this later on' or she'll get very very angry saying that while she always supported my more uncommon life choices - not wanting to get married and potentially never having children unless I am very stable financially - she thinks I am being selfish and narcissistic. On 'good days' she'll try to bargain saying she'll cook and clean for me.

Here are the reasons why the idea of her living with me terrorizes me:

- My mother, even before her mental health deteriorated, has always had a bit of a type A personality. Things have to go her way or she gets anxious/upset. I've lived with her for a few months in the past, and 80% of that time was spent fighting over small things. It doesn't matter if she says things like, 'I will never ask you what to do with your money' because when someone is financially dependent on you, you will always have to reconsider how you plan your money.
- She does not respect the fact that I am very different to her. Whereas she's always needed to have someone around, I am very much the opposite. I am introverted and prefer a quiet, isolated space. I don't need to live with someone to feel fulfilled. I don't get lonely very easily as I have plenty of hobbies and my work. I get it that she must feel very lonely, but she is forcing her desire to be around someone on me. It makes me so uncomfortable whenever I make plans such as going to a city on holiday and her immediately saying she'll go with me. The moment she moves in with me, I'll become her some sort of her partner. She doesn't want to live with me just because she's in a bad situation or because she's anxious, it feels like she's expecting me to fulfil the emotional needs as her husband should have, but I can't do that without compromising my happiness.
- I cannot financially sustain both of us, not without long-term affecting both of us. Me, because I have plans I want to follow through to get to a difference place. Her, because she has medical and mental needs that will inevitably fall on me.
- The moment she moves in with me, I'll become her therapist. I've always been happy to educate my mother and to try and help her. But there are moments when her own internal pain cause her to be very selfish. I told her I might go study Psychology (criminal, not to become a therapist), then changed my mind as it would be too expensive. She immediately pointed out that if I go do that, then I can help with diagnosing and advising her how to get better.
- My mother has reached such a desperate, miserable state, she no longer is able to consider or see how I am truly doing. I do not expect of her do it anymore. It's too much of a burden and while it's heart-breaking, I get it she has enough on her plate. But her living with me, it would mean I will be entering e pseudo partnership in which it doesn't matter what I truly want.
- Finally, her suicidal tendencies. They keep me awake at night. When she says things like 'I only feel better after I talk to you' or 'you're my battery' how am I not supposed to feel responsible? I can't.

If my stepfather decides, tomorrow, that he wants to leave, my mother will be left alone with no income. I will have no choice but to become trapped. I feel like I am running out of time to enjoy my independence and to be myself, and my own person. I tried pointing out to her that I might want to move around, change jobs, try different things and she immediately points out that she'll just come with me. What really breaks my heart is how she has increasingly reached the conclusion that I am trying to abandon her, and cut all ties and try to ignore that I have 'family'. I am not. I have taken out loans and paid her things and tried to get her to turn her life around. I have tried to emotionally support her although I need help myself (and I have no one to turn to), I have made sacrifices costing me once-in-a-lifetime opportunities because it would be selfish otherwise.


Hi @benny22,

I see you posted your story a few months ago. No progress since then?

Your mother is an adult. She is responsible for herself. You are not required to take on that burden to the detriment of your own health, financial security, and mental well-being.

She needs to get a job or apply for benefits if she is too unwell to work. Using a dog for an excuse, and now the vaccine mandate is a bit ridiculous for a woman in her 50s. Her excuses are manipulation tactics in order to get somebody else to take care of her. If she does not want to stay married she needs to be responsible for herself, and think beyond fixing her car. That’s what adults do. Food and rent isn’t going to fall from the sky.


I'm going to add a reality check to the title of your post:
"My mum makes me her responsibility and I let her".

She isn't going to change.
You need to.

You don't need to write a long list to justify why you don't want your mum to live with you.
You just say no.

I get it is very very hard to step out of established family dynamics. Especially when family don't want you to. It suits them the way things are. But for yourself and your sanity, you need to.

Can you try baby steps?
Maybe if she tells you about something, change the subject? Or communicate less? Or put in a boundary and stick with it?
A lot of us have stepped out of family dynamics. I have. It's very hard and very painful. But, no one is going to help us or change for us, so we have to be the change ourselves.


I remember your last post on here about your mom. She is being abusive and manipulative. You don't need to have any reasons or justifications on why you don't want her to live with you. You don't. You are an adult, she is an adult. End of story. You don't have to justify your life choices either, as an adult. To anyone. Including your mom.

I would say its a great time to practice setting boundaries with her. It's not ok she is effecting your health and it's not ok to manipulate you and to make you feel guilty for saying no. Something you have all rights to do. This is your life. Period! And she isn't your responsibility at all at any time no matter what has happened or does happen in the future. Even if your step father and her split up.

Having health issues is also not an excuse. I have health issues and support myself. That is her responsibility, not yours. Even if she is left with no income, that is her responsibility to acquire. Not yours.


If you just need someone to tell you it’s ok that you don’t want to be the parent to your 53 year old mother here it is. You don’t have to do this. You don’t have to be responsible for her. In fact it’s probably the one thing that’s holding her back in life. The knowledge that she has someone to take advantage of. It’s time for her to find her own way in the world.

I will have no choice but to become trapped.

You always have a choice. I’m not sure why you posted this again. Did you not get the response you wanted last time? Do you want someone to say this is your responsibility you have to take care of her she’s family etc? then you have the choice made for you? Believe me if you leave it long enough your mother will take that choice away from you.

You know a lot of us here know that sometimes someone being family means less than nothing. Sometimes it’s just not enough to put up with certain behaviours and sometimes it’s a mater of survival to only have surface level relationships (or none at all) with them.

I have taken out loans and paid her things and tried to get her to turn her life around. I have tried to emotionally support her although I need help myself (and I have no one to turn to), I have made sacrifices costing me once-in-a-lifetime opportunities because it would be selfish otherwise.

You’ve done enough. No but really hear this, you’ve done enough. What more can you do what more can any family member ask of you? You’re not her mother. It’s not fair for her to ask anymore from you.

You have a few options that I can see but first and foremost you need to make a decision. will you let her move in with you? Or are you going to set some boundaries and finally put yourself and your own wants and needs first? These both suck and are going to be really hard and I’m sorry you have to do this. It’s not fair I know. Remember not making a decision IS making a decision.

Once you’ve done that we can help you with what comes next. If you don’t already I highly recommend you get a therapist even if you can only afford 1 session a month. It will pay out ten fold.

Being called or perceived as “selfish” by overbearing family is a lot less painful than being the emotional support dog, financial support, therapist and, emotional punching bag for them. She’s not going to like it you’re going to get a lot of pushback and possibly some emotional blackmail and abuse but, overall it’s probably better for her to learn how to cope on her own for her own self worth. Maybe have a read of “adult children of emotionally Immature parents” It has some good resources and some eye openers in there.


@benny22 - just wanted to say everyone who has commented is right! Your mum is only 53!! That is not old !!
But sounds like she’s lived her life avoiding being independent. That’s not your fault.
You need to be able to say no and not feel guilty and your mum needs to grow up!!
You’re not a walking stick, you deserve to have your own life


I understand how hard it is to have boundaries. My mother was a lot like that. As everyone else has said you are not responsible for her. And it's hard because setting boundaries may mean seeing her struggle or flounder. At the same time, if you don't set boundaries she will not get well. If she moves in with you, it will just become another unhealthy relationship for her (And you). That's not a judgement on you. That's an acknowledgment of her and how she functions. She is someone who uses the people around her and her issues as a reason to not get well. The more someone takes cares of her, the more she will want and expect. The more dependent she will become. The sicker she will become.

It's a rotten situation and my heart goes out to you.