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Terra's Past Letters


"My mom and step-dad don't trust me!"

Hey Terra,

My mom and step-dad make me do homework for them. I have to read 3 articles in the New York Times and write about them. 2 of them have to be 100 words in English and the other one has to be 50 words in Spanish.


I'm going to be 14 in August! I still have to go to bed at 8:30 p.m. That's the same time I've been having to go to bed since 3rd grade. My mom and step-dad don't trust me at all. I think they think I do drugs, and they want to send me to boarding school. I mean, I'm on the honor roll. I'm a pretty good kid, I never get in trouble at school either. And to make things more complicated, my parents have been divorced since kindergarten. I only get 1/2 an hour of TV. and a half an hour of the computer every day and if I don't do those assignments by 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, I lose those privileges for the week. They hardly let me do anything with my friends. I know there are kids not as fortunate as me, but I'm a teenager and I'm going through a hard time trying to get ready for high school. They think I'm lazy but volleyball sign up is this week and softball starts in the spring and lasts the whole summer.

Do you think I should tell my dad and step-mom about this?!!? This may not be the worst situation you've heard, but I'm unhappy and I need these privileges. I also do my homework right after I get home from school.

The Un-Privileged Teenager


Dear The Un-Privileged Teenager,

It sounds like your mom and step-dad believe they need to have a lot of control over your life and that there is a lack of trust on their part even though you are doing such a good job at school. I'm sure it's very frustrating to be treated this way.

I'm going to assume that you have talked to them about the way this makes you feel. If not, I would suggest that you have a calm, mature conversation with your mom. (I think you should talk to your mom, alone, because your primary relationship is with her. These restrictions and rules may be coming from your step-dad and your mom is going along with them, not knowing how they are affecting you.) Without yelling or verbally attacking her or your step-dad, tell her, respectfully, how you feel about "doing homework" for them and going to bed at 8:30. Tell her how their lack of trust and the threat of being sent away to boarding school makes you feel.

If, after having this conversation, nothing changes, then you might want to talk with your dad. If you are truly this unhappy in your living situation, your mom and your dad should both know about it, and hopefully, will work together to make things better.

I hope this helps.

Write back any time.

In friendship,


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