Dear Hope: My Family is in Debt
What do I do if my family is $100,000 in debt? My dad owns his own business and works from home, my mom doesn’t work even though she should, I am a recent high school graduate working thirty hours a week (usually more) at minimum wage, and my brother is 12. I just don’t know what to do, I’m in school right now and I’m looking for a second job. My depression has come back after a year of being really good and I need more therapy again like twice a week and my mom was telling me about how she sacrifices therapy so we have more money and yeah. I just feel terrible.
Helping your family is admirable, but you cannot take on all the responsibility. It is not your job to get your parents out of debt. Getting out of debt can take time.
Your dad runs his own business which means he is capable of coming up with a plan of action. Talk to him and see what he is thinking. Figure out some ways you can help that does not involve you getting a second job. You already have a full load with school and work. Even though your family is in debt, money is not always the answer. Being emotionally supportive is a positive way to help your family when you are not able to give money.
One way to help your family is being there for your brother. Let your brother know you are there for him. Give him a chance to talk about how he feels. Reassure him that his feelings, good or bad, are valid. Spend some time just having fun with him. Having fun is free.
Try not to become angry with your mom. Even though you may not agree with her choices, it’s her decision. She is the only one who can decide when and if she gets a job.
Supporting yourself is just as important as supporting your family. If you worry too much and exhaust yourself, you won’t be any help to anyone.
If you are having feelings of depression, it is possible you can get free therapy.
Call your previous therapist. They might be able to offer some advice on what to do. They may know about a free clinic or offer discounted prices.
Talk to your school. Most schools have resources available. Sometimes they offer counseling or can lead you in the right direction to getting help.
If you do not get what you need at school call the local mental health clinic for your city.
Think about the things that helped you overcome your depression a year ago. Are there any techniques you can use now that might help?
Emotionally support and love your family, but remember that you are not responsible for fixing all of their problems. You need to support yourself. Have patience with yourself and your family. It takes time, but you’re strong and your family will get through this.
Thank you for being brave and sending in your question.