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Jen and Heidi


I was talking to a teen we call "Jen" (recently who feels responsible for making her mother happy, stopping her mother from being depressed, etc. The mother recently told the teen she is so upset with the teen that she has thought of committing suicide.

To make sure there is no confusion, I will clarify that it is the mother who was talking about killing herself. By doing this she is laying a huge, huge, huge guilt trip on her teen daughter who already felt overly responsible for her mother's feelings and happiness or lack thereof.

Take just a moment and think about that, please. Think how you would feel if you started to believe you could be the cause of your mother killing herself...


This teen already told me once she wants to make good grades because "that brings smiles in the family where there aren't many smiles."

I would call this emotional abuse on the part of the mother, but the teen doesn't agree and won't report her mother. And in my experience, the authorities wouldn't do much anyhow. They would probably just recommend counseling for the teen (not the mother), then talk to the mother briefly and see the teen once a week for a few months without putting much effort into really changing anything, especially not the mother. Even though this mother, in my view, is quite clearly the source of the teen's depression and extremely low self-image, the social workers would most likely not confront the mother or try to remove the teen and put her in a more emotionally supportive environment.

There are probably a lot of reasons for this. I wrote a little about this on another page. The link is below. Now I will return to my rather long introduction to the Heidi story...

As I talked to Jen she told me her mother had been complaining because she had not been doing much to help the mother in the morning. Jen then felt guilty, as the mother wanted her to, so she felt a need to "make it up to her." This reminds me of that the characteristics of adult children of alcoholics that Janet Geringer Woititz wrote about. (link below)

Knowing how responsible Jen feels for her mother's feelings, and how easily she falls into the guilt traps her mother sets, I said "Do u think she forgot that she's the one who got pregnant?"

Then later I said, "Just for laughs, ask her sometime who got her pregnant...then say 'Well then don't u think he should be helping u now?"

Then I remembered Heidi and her mother. And I thought "At least Jen's mom is not trying to do what Heidi's mom did....

So here is the story of Heidi and her mother so you'll know what I mean.

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When I was living in Florida I met a lot of "new age" people. I won't go into details about what I think of new age stuff, but I will just say that many are looking in the wrong place for answers and healing -- Crystals, aroma therapy, meditation, yoga, channeling, etc.

Well, one of the people I met was Mary. Her daughter was Heidi. Heidi was about 14 or 15 at the time. She was one of the first teenagers I really started listening to, other than Zoey, who I wrote about in my parenting chapter of my 1996 book. One day Mary, Heidi and I were all out together. We somehow got on the topic of souls choosing which families they want to be born in. Now if you are not familiar with this it will probably sound pretty wacky. But here is what some people believe.

They believe a soul is floating around somewhere before it takes human form inside a baby. They believe it looks around for a family in which it can "learn what it needs to learn", or some such thing.

So Heidi told me that day that this is what her mother had taught her. She told Heidi that Heidi chose to born by Mary. Now this seems laughable to me now, but I swear I am not making it up. Do some searches on new age stuff if you want and you will probably be shocked by some of the things you find if your not familiar with it.

Anyhow, I quickly thought this is a really convenient cop out on the part of Mary. That way she can escape all responsibility for her failures as a mother. Heidi, by the way, did not know who her father was. Mary herself wasn't sure because she had been having sex with several guys at the same time in her "hippie" days. She thought it was probably a guy who lived in Oklahoma. Heidi showed me a letter to him which she'd written. She said "I don't want you to pay money or anything. I just want to know who my father is." I cried when I read that letter. It really affected me.

Heidi had all kinds of problems as a teen. One was being raped by her boyfriend. She didn't want to report it, said she loved him etc., even though she was crying and telling him to stop and he didn't.

Heidi needed someone to love her and accepted this kind of treatment because she was so desperately trying to fill her unmet emotional needs. Her mother simply couldn't fill Heidi's needs for love. She had too many of her own.

Heidi also told me she would often come home to find her mother having sex with someone on the couch and other times she could hear them when she was in her bedroom. Her mother had one sex partner after another, something which her mother admitted. Her mother, by the way, was very interested in crystals. She worked for a while in a store in Dunedin, Florida selling them. She also had her own little new age bookstore and coffee shop there. She was more interested in reading about crystals than in reading about parenting.

Anyhow, I asked Heidi if she really believed that her soul had chosen to be born by Mary. Then Mary interrupted and said in a very authoritarian tone, "It's not a belief. It's a fact!"

All I could say was "ok...."

Steve Hein
April 17, 2006
Salta, Argentina


Janet Geringer Woititz

Why social workers don't do more

New Age