Anyone with VERY difficult mothers?

Hi guys,

My girlfriend has a foreign mother that barely speaks English and does not understand the basics of American culture or living in a way that benefits her. My girlfriend’s parents divorced a couple years back and it’s been hell for my girlfriend because she is forced to provide the basics for her mother and do everything for her from bills, to shopping, to taxes, to awareness of current events. She even takes care of her dad’s shit and It takes a huge toll on my girlfriend mentally and emotionally because she is basically a caregiver. And now it’s affecting me because I’m sitting here not knowing wtf to say or do to help. Neither my girlfriend or her mother are in very good financial standing unfortunately and so my girlfriend can barely keep herself afloat nevermind her mother. And I’m just a 25 yr old guy also trying to make a living. So I can’t just fix their problems with money sadly. My girlfriend is also in that state of mind where she feels she’s tried everything and nothing will work and she’s forced to be miserable until she gets a higher paying job. I’m just at my wit’s end and have no idea what I can do or say. If you need more details please ask. I could really use some help.


This is a really hard one. I can’t answer to the cultural aspect of it, but what I can say from a standpoint of general well-being is that your girlfriend can’t take care of anyone else adequately unless she takes care of herself first. Maybe there are groups that can give advice to people stuck in your girlfriend’s family situation, because she’s not the first to be tethered to her parents by cultural obligations.

If I were in charge of caring for my parents and generally got along with them, I’d be devastated by having to choose between caring for them at my own expense or for myself at their expense. That’s the choice she’s faced with right now, and she’d choosing to take care of her parents at her own expense. Usually, if someone comes here for advice on toxic parents, we’ll tell them to free themselves. In a vacuum, that would be the case here. Your girlfriend is getting the life and money sucked out of her by caring for her mother. Freeing yourself from family ties is never easy, even with abusive family members; they’re your family after all. I’m trying to come up with a “but” to put in here regarding cultural obligations, but no matter how I slice it and dice it, I believe her relationship with her mom is toxic. Cultural obligations aside, her mom is totally codependent on her, and that is never good. If it keeps up, your girlfriend will be pouring financial and emotional resources into caring for her mom until her mom dies, and then she may resent her mom for exhausting the best parts of her life.


@SheetMetalHead nailed it. Unfortunately, prioritizing self-care over self-sacrifice has to be your girlfriend’s decision. There’s not really anything you can do or say. :frowning: In fact, doing or saying anything could be very dangerous for your relationship with your girlfriend. If I were in your shoes, I’d offer to listen if your girlfriend needs to vent, but I’d also set some very clear boundaries to let her know that I’m not accepting responsibility for her or her mother. Listen as much as you can, but when it gets to be too much, there’s nothing wrong with taking some space for your own well-being. <3

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