Ask Alma: My family treats me like trash and I’m ready to cut them off


By Alma Gill

Dear Alma,

I am 40 years old and have finally decided to cut my mother, father, sister and oldest niece out of my life. I’m tired of being lied to, deceived and treated like the black sheep of the family. My mom and I never had a mother-daughter relationship. She always chose men over her kids. The relationship has always been strained. My mom is much like her mother and my sister is like our mother. None of them raised their own children. I’m raising one of my sister’s daughters. My sister is just like my dad. My father could never do any wrong in my grandmother’s eyes; she always bailed him out of trouble and everyone else was to blame. My sister is so much like both of my parents. My brother is all I have left of my family. He is my mother’s favorite. My sister is my father’s favorite and it is pretty obvious. The difference between my brother and me is that I will bust them out on their lies. My brother only thinks about saying what I actually say. As for my niece, she is on the same road as my grandmother, mother and sister. I’m tired of the lies, drama, excuses and deception. Also, if you don’t want to take care of kids, don’t have them. They blame me for everything. I don’t understand what I have done wrong in my life to be unloved by my family. I’ve never tried drugs, I’m not a drinker, I graduated from high school, I had my first home at 23, my first car at 18, I’m raising my niece and I’ve been married almost 23 years. My sister is totally opposite of me; she’s been in jail for drugs, child endangerment, her kids permanently removed from her care. I could go on and on, but they make excuses for her and bail her out of trouble, as well as my niece. But I’m the bad one. Why are my parents not capable of being parents to me?


Divorce My Family


Dear DMF,

There are so many pieces to address in your email and as much as my heart desires to connect them all, I’ll stick to the one question you’ve asked. Why are your parents incapable of being parents to you? The truest answer lies within your parents. I do think however, they’re parenting you the best way they know how. That is in no way making excuses or condoning them, but it’s the truth. When you become a parent, you realize immediately that parents are NOT perfect and they DO NOT have all the answers.

It appears to be misspoken words and misunderstood conversations that have taken place between you, your parents and siblings. I have a gut feeling you are basing your relationships on how or what you perceive the other person “thinks and feels” about you. From all you’ve shared with me, I wouldn’t call you the black sheep of the family, but that’s how you identified yourself. It seems to me, you and your brother are trying to break the cycle and I hope I’ve read that correctly.

Yes, it is true, some parents are incapable of showing unconditional love. Many are not flawless role models who deliver the exact precise words at the exact precise time, tickled with a hug and kiss on the forehead for good measure. You’ve seen the movies, from “Mommie Dearest” to “Precious,” these mothers were inconceivable, birthed out of actual events. Just because a woman gives birth, doesn’t automatically make her loving or maternal. Many people, not only as children, but also adults, face ongoing emotional and psychological abuse at the hands of a parent. The fact that you’ve not only survived, but thrived in spite of your negative parental patterns, gives credit that you’ve put one foot in front of the other, everyday to create a rewarding path for your life.

Don’t disconnect from your family. Yes they are challenging, but so is life. My suggestions are, reach out to your pastor and/or employee assistance program for family counseling services. You should work with a professional who can help you identify and address the instability in your family, not run away from it. I’d also like for you to go to and search for the “Fix My Dysfunctional Sisterhood” episode. It reminds me a bit of your situation. The problems of your family are a learned existence. Like Maya Angelou says, once we learn to do better, we become better.

You’re example of family makes me sad and I acknowledge the enormity you’re dealing with. Obviously, you’re parents are not who you need them to be. Truth be told, we all long for approval and unconditional love from our parents, it’s the wind beneath our wings. Believe that your family is capable to navigate away from the negative, progress towards the positives and open their eyes to a new way of learning, living and loving. These new family practices will benefit not just you and your brother, but future generations to come.

Alma Gill’s newsroom experience spans more than 25 years, including various roles at USA Today, Newsday and the Washington Post. Email questions to: Follow her on Facebook at “Ask Alma” and Twitter @almaaskalma.