Dear Rebbetzin Weinberg,
My parents got divorced when I was very young, and I have no relationship with my father. I’m 15 now. It was just me and my mother all these years, and sometimes my uncle came around. We often went to friends for Shabbos and Yom Tov, and I was happy with my life.
My mother remarried a year ago. Her husband is a widower with a lot of kids. I was taken aback when she got married. I thought she was happy the way we were, but I guess I was wrong. I can see that she loves this man and is trying to be a good mother to his children. His first wife’s parents come over, too. Everyone gets along great. They are a very touchy-feely type of family and like to hug everybody. And they want me to be part of it all.
I don’t really want to be a part of it. I feel like my whole life is upside down. I even lost my room. My mother asked me very nicely if I would share with her husband’s daughter, so I said yes. I just don’t feel like this is my family any more.
I am a “with it” person. I can cope. All these years I didn’t have a father and I managed. But this is beyond what I want to live with. I think my mother thought she was providing me with a “normal” family life, but I think the best thing for me is to go away for high school. I can stand living at home for the summer but not all year.
My mother doesn’t want me to go away. I don’t want my mother to feel bad or infringe on her happiness, but soon my time will come; I’ll get married anyway and leave home, so why not do it now? Am I selfish for wanting to go away?
I feel for you in your difficult dilemma. For years, you and your mother had a set-up that worked for you, and now your comfortable situation has been turned upside down!
Please keep in mind that your mother’s search for a fuller life does not mean you were wrong about your previous years with her. It simply means that, even with her happy years with you, she felt a normal and natural emptiness that no child could possibly fill.
Once you realize that this new family does not symbolize a rejection of the important years you and your mother shared, it might be easier for you to adjust. And remember that this is quite an adjustment. An open talk with your mother would be helpful, too. You started sharing your room without letting your mother know how hard this change is for you. She needs to hear this from you.
I’m concerned that if you just go away for high school, you could remain an outsider in this new household. May I suggest that, in addition to filling in your mother about how this major adjustment is affecting you, you also sit down with your Rav or guidance counselor or any objective adult with whom you are comfortable and take a careful look at the pros and cons of leaving home?
This way, if you decide to leave, it will be a fully thought-out decision and not running away from a problem. Your letter indicates a maturity and understanding beyond your years, so I feel confident that, with some trusted input, you will make a better adjustment and a good decision about high school.