Divorce, Stepdads, And Arguments: The Truth About My Family

Disowning My Mother
One of the struggles I have with my family is that my mom keeps running back to my stepdad and my mom’s side of the family doesn’t like him. I don’t blame them. He used to mistreat me. I say “used to” because he got busted for drugs. When he got out of jail, he went to a halfway house and was calling and going over to my mom’s house.

We found out a few months ago that my mom is pregnant. That is the last thing I thought I would ever hear. I just had a baby five months ago and now here comes another. I hated hearing that.

Now my stepdad’s out of the halfway house and back home with my mom. I told my mom that if she lets him back in, I won’t talk to her ever again. I won’t say she’s my mother and that I will deny her baby as my half sibling. My grandma is my only mother. But still, I can’t stand most of my family. If you asked how my family is doing, I’ll only talk about my grandma or my uncle. Even most of my friends didn’t even know that I had a mom.
-Unknown, 19


Rebuilding The Bond
Families are never perfect. There are many families that seem perfect but every family has its flaws. As young people, we like to compare and think “this family is awesome” or “why can’t my family be like that?” We all get so wrapped up in the idea of the ideal family that we overlook our own families, flaws and all.

Growing up in my family, I always wished that my family was closer, like that of my friends. I wished I could talk to my older brothers and parents the way my friends were able to talk to theirs. I wish I didn’t feel secluded, but most of all, I wish that my family felt complete.

I come from a family of four boys, whom are my older brothers, my two parents, my cousins, and me. When I was younger, it felt like our house was crowded, in a good “warm” way. Over the years, our crowded home began to become less crowded and less “warm.” My cousin got married and moved across the country to Massachusetts. My oldest brother kept getting locked up. To me, our family felt incomplete, especially when I would look at our family photos. There was always someone missing. I kind of grew up feeling lonely.

As the only daughter in the family, I felt alone. My older brothers always played video games or football or went swimming. They spent a lot of time together and I always felt left out. My older brothers were treated different from me because they were guys.

People always told me I was lucky because I’m the only daughter and that my older brothers probably spoil me to death, but it’s not really like that at all. Sometimes I felt like my brothers felt bad for me because they always left me out and if they didn’t feel bad for me, they were always very protective of me. It’s difficult growing up with only older brothers. My older brothers seemed to have a bond with each other that I could never have. I grew up feeling like the “black sheep,” the outcast in the family.

I am now 18 years old, and things have improved. I guess it’s because we are all older now and have learned to put our differences aside. I now talk to my older brother, who is locked up, and we always talk about bringing our family back together again. I’ve learned that love within a family is truly seeing imperfect people as perfect.
-Arena, 18


The struggle I have in my family is to understand why things happen. I don’t understand how one day you wake up and find out that the person that you just talked to a week ago is dead. I don’t understand why most mothers and daughters don’t get along. I don’t understand why parents think there is no such thing as love when you’re a teen. I don’t understand why my mom and stepdad got married when all they’re going to do is get a divorce. I don’t understand why my sisters downgrade my mom and me.

I don’t understand why my family is split apart…sometimes I wish I could understand. I try so hard and sometimes I think I get it but then something happens and I’m stuck clueless again!!! I’m tired of crying, stressing, worrying and being angry all the time. I’m tired of smiling and making it seem like everything is okay when it’s not. This is one of my many struggles I have to deal with in my life. I don’t want to talk about them. I’m exhausted.
-Meme, 16


Growing Up Hurt
I am now 21 years old, and ever since I was growing up, I had to deal with a lot. I found out my dad is not really my dad, but instead he is my stepdad and that I came out of a rape. At first it wasn’t that bad because I knew even though I came out of something bad that my mom still loved me. As the years went by and I got older, things got worse to the point where I hated being half Black (everyone else in my family is White).

When my stepdad got upset, I would see him hurt my mom then he would see me and say cruel things to me. He would say that I was a mistake, and that I am a “rape baby,” that I have bad blood because I’m half Black and that a Black man raped my mom, that it was my fault. He would do it in front of my younger siblings and now when they get mad at me, they say the same things he does. He even taught them to call me the “N” word and tell me that I was adopted. I grew up hating myself and everything about me. My mom tried to tell me he was lying but I couldn’t believe her.

It got worse when I was 15. That’s when my stepdad started hurting me physically, emotionally, and sexually—which he also did to one of my half sisters. I was so scared of him that I kept to myself like my mom did. But now we are doing a lot better. My mom is in the middle of divorcing him and fighting for custody of the rest of the kids.

In a way, I hate that my mom and stepdad are getting a divorce only because he was the only dad I knew since I was 2 years old and now I only have a mom. I feel sorry for my siblings because they know that their parents are never going to be together again. I am relieved but sad at the same for all of the people who this divorce is going to affect.
-“Marie”, 21


So Unfair
My parents are divorced. I haven’t contacted my dad for the longest time and my mom is more interested in making assumptions than actually talking with me lately. I feel like my mom’s been picking on me. Just last week, she yelled at me for sleeping right after school. I get pretty tired now, due to the fact that I have a ton of homework from my classes and exams to study for. My days are really long and the only time I can use the computer is when my brother is in bed talking with this girlfriend. I usually get online at about 10pm and sometimes I stay up until 2am. My sleep schedule allows me to sleep for eight hours with a few hours of break in between.

Also, my mom yelled at me for only carrying my purse. She didn’t even ask me. She just told me, “So, what, you’re just going to skip school now?” Honestly I don’t know what’s wrong with carrying a purse. It’s more convenient than my backpack and more stylish.

Right now I can’t wait to graduate and go to college. As long as my stepdad’s living in our house, I can never have happiness or be at peace. He is always talking crap about my siblings in front of me to aggravate me.

I’m tired and drained from all the drama that I shouldn’t have to worry or care about. But slowly I am starting to get over what he has to say because all I know is that I will lead a life better than him.

I’m also really annoyed by my brother who is a year younger than me. He basically hogs the computer all day and I really mean it. From the minute he gets out of bed to the second he goes to sleep, he is gaming on the computer. I don’t care that he plays games and what not. The only thing that bothers me is when I try to fill out applications for jobs and college stuff and he is hovering around me commenting about what I should write. Sometimes he even tells me to hurry up and I’m like, “Seriously? You’re on for over ten hours straight and I can’t even use it for one to two hours?” I just think it’s ridiculous how my family made a schedule so everyone gets a chance to use the computer, but no one really gets to use it except for him.
-“Aurora”, 17


Every Little Thing
Something I struggle with in my family is the constant arguing about any little thing that happens in the house. Especially between my dad and me. When my dad tells me to clean my room, I know he’s right. It’s not good to have a messy room because I don’t like messy rooms either, but the way he goes on about telling me just gets me mad. He once told me to clean my room and get all my stuff off my bed or he’ll take the bed away, and that I can sleep on the floor or outside. Now all of those extra comments were unnecessary. It’s hard to listen to someone when they add small stuff like that to what they’re saying.

It’s sad that my dad can get so serious about what he’s saying over the smallest things. Or when I don’t feel like eating, sometimes he always comments, “What? You think we’re gonna wait for you to eat? You think food is gonna be made for you whenever you want to eat?” Sometimes I don’t want to add salsa to my food, but he always says this, “Well don’t eat it then.” Honestly that just sends me off the edge, how something so small and insignificant of a topic can start a whole problem after I say to him, “Do you really have to say that?” Then from there, things get worse.

Sometimes he has nothing to say at all but there is always some nagging and complaining about simple things that are better left alone and could be dealt with in a different way.
-Miguel, 17


Family Crap
In my family, I know for a fact that everyone is against me. It’s difficult going on everyday having to face the fact that those closest to me seem so intangible.

My mother most of all is against me. No matter what, in her eyes, everything I do is wrong. If I stay home, she gets angry. If I leave, she gets even angrier. It’s as if she’s incapable of making up her mind. It hurts to discover that someone I used to confide in is sabotaging my life.

“Jaleesa, get off your lazy a** and get a job,” or “Stop revolving your schedule around your boyfriend’s life,” or even “You’re being a tramp. Go to Job Corps.” There’s a difference between encouraging me to get a job and attacking my character. She acts like I do nothing. When possible, I pull my own weight. I clean up because she doesn’t. I get paid for washing her dishes but not for everything else. She’s much like a slave-driver, and I’m tired of living with her.

Even though my father no longer lives with us, he sides with my mother to take the spotlight off himself (to save himself from her wrath). When I’m not there, she talks bad about me to my brother, thus continuing the shunning. I don’t know whether to blame my mother or myself. I try my best but it never seems to be enough. She’s so judgmental of other people that it spills over to me. I don’t know. Maybe she truly hates me. The alliances she builds against me are destroying my life.
-Jaleesa, 20


One of the issues I struggle with in my family is reliability and responsibility. I am a daughter so I’m responsible for cooking and cleaning while the boys are responsible for keeping family together and supporting the family. Well with the help of my sister in laws and my mom, we get the cleaning and cooking done.

But sadly, the boys don’t fill in their roles. As the men of the house, they should solve problems and stay as neutral as possible, but sadly, my brothers are still just kids with their PS3 controllers and pizza in their laps. They don’t know that grass needs to be cut or leaves need to be raked or water needs to be refilled. They don’t notice that bills need to be paid or mom needs advice because she is so stressed out.

Like the time when my mom first found out that we might lose our house, my older brother just straight out said he doesn’t know what’s gonna happen to us but he’s gonna move out and live in his own apartment with his wife. My mom stressed out and tired, broke down in tears. She is a woman, and she isn’t used to taking care of such big responsibilities. She doesn’t know what to do or who to turn to.

With my dad passing away years ago, my mom relied on my brothers to fill in his role for the younger ones. She knows that if we move out of the house we are living in now, we will struggle more financially. Not only that but we would be even more broken apart as a family. Who will step up, heal my family, and keep us together?
-Angelina, 17

The kNOw Youth Media
The kNOw works to support and equip young people with the journalism and advocacy skills they need to tell their stories and the stories of their communities.

In 2006, over 25 youth began participating in weekly after-school writing workshops where they congregated in the hallway of a two-story building in West Fresno and learned the essentials of creating media and telling their stories. The group evolved over the next five years and is now proudly recognized as The kNOw Youth Media.

Through our program, we create opportunities for our youth participants, who in turn create long-term positive change in their communities. Our approach weaves youth development and youth media innovation to produce our biannual youth publication, multimedia projects, and community forums.

The kNOw began as a project of New America Media, which was the country’s first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 2000 ethnic news organizations. In 2018 The kNOw became a project of Youth Leadership Institute.

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