Dear Thelma: My parents put a lot of pressure on me financially

My family is not very well off financially and, because of that, I had to give up my desire to further my studies.

I am a straight-A student and it hurts when all my life, I thought I’d be continuing my studies but, in the end, could not.

So after finishing school, I got a job but since I only have a high school qualification, I couldn’t go far in building a career.

I then decided to continue with my studies part-time. I have other financial commitments, like paying for my car, insurance, and so on.

I have cut down on my expenses, to the point that I won’t even go out for lunch because I don’t have enough money. I don’t have savings, which makes me worry even more. Yet, I have never asked for money from my parents. I would rather starve than ask for money from them because they will kill me with their words.

The problem now is my parents are forcing me to get a new car. I know it’s a good thing and there are many affordable cars in the market. However, my parents want me to get a car which costs over RM100,000!

Based on my financial status, I know I cannot afford that car. If I could, I would have definitely bought it even before they asked.

I have voiced out my situation to them, like, a million times, but my parents can’t seem to understand me. They still insist on me getting the car and even asked me to take up a personal loan to pay for the deposit.

My salary is not huge as I am only an SPM-level clerk. With the current economic situation where everything is so expensive, I have tried to do part-time business, but it didn’t turn out well.

I am not the only child. I have other siblings but all the responsibilities or commitments always fall on me. I feel so stressed!

I am actually quite depressed. I never share my work stress with anyone but always bottle it up in me. I know it’s bad, but I have no trusted soul to share my thoughts with.

I also realised recently that my best friends have been making fun of me behind my back and it hurt me so much. I have yet to overcome that. Juggling between work and part-time studies is not easy, yet I still managed to do it.

But when my close friends and family make my life stressful, I don’t know how to handle it and I feel lost.

I have no one to talk to about my problems and, of course, I wouldn’t want to make a bad impression in front of my family.

I cannot take it anymore. It is OK if my parents cannot give me moral support or motivate me in my daily life, but they are making my life even more miserable.

I have tried my best to explain things to them but they are not ready to accept or understand me.

Going back home just to hear sarcastic remarks, indirectly telling me that I am good for nothing, asking for money, asking me to buy a car are all too much and I am going crazy. Please help me.

Broken-hearted girl

I can’t imagine what your parents are thinking. It is completely unacceptable to drive anyone into taking out a loan for a car they don’t need, especially when they’re not financially secure.

You don’t say why you simply refuse to entertain this nonsense, and from the rest of your letter I suspect that this is part of a much deeper issue.

There’s no shame in being poor. But that’s not the problem here. You are clever, you work hard, and you have a clear plan for your future. That’s all excellent. You should be very proud of yourself.

However, your parents are not interested in your financial security, they don’t offer you any moral support, and they stigmatise you as useless. Yet they’re happy to hit you up for loans and they’re excellent at making your life a misery.

My dear, please go and see a counsellor, someone who has experience of emotional abuse. As you are low in funds, call an NGO.

Note: You need to consult with a person who has a Masters degree, or higher, in psychology or counselling, and you need a weekly appointment for some months. Try AWAM (Tel: 03-7877 4221).

It can be a shock to realise that you have toxic parents, but there are so many red flags in your letter, that I think you need to speak to someone urgently.

Let me explain a few things first.

We want to feel a good connection with our parents and family but when we’re unlucky and have toxic relatives, they make us stressed, depressed and anxious.

It is sometimes possible to improve the relationship. That takes time, insight and lots of work. At other times, there is no fixing it. If that is the situation, you have two basic options: Cut them off, or limit your contact with them.

I can see readers screaming but here it is: Nobody has the right to poison someone else’s life. If you are abusive and toxic, you risk having people walk out on you. And frankly, if you are a parent who makes your child’s life a misery, I have no sympathy for you if they decide to ditch you.

So, go and see a mental health professional. Have yourself assessed for depression, and then look into your family dynamics. Figure out what effective changes you can make.

Also look at your support network, to see who you can rope in to help you with emotional support during this difficult time.

Also, you need to discuss your friendship situation. You may be spot-on with your analysis. However, I offer you this hope: It may be that depression is leading you to imagine they are laughing at you.

You see, depression has a sneaky way of making neutral things seem negative. Do add it to your therapy goals list, OK?

As for the finances. Nobody gives a hoot about what you drive. Buy the cheapest reliable transport you can. Invest sensibly in your personal skills training so you can move up through the ranks, and tuck away money for your future.

If you don’t already have one, get a mentor at work. He or she will help support you as you make your way forward.

Good luck. I’ll be thinking of you.

Is something bothering you? Do you need a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on? Thelma is here to help.  Email or write to Dear Thelma, c/o StarLifestyle, Menara Star, 15, Jalan 16/11, 46350 Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Please include your full name and address, and a pseudonym. No private correspondence will be entertained. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, usefulness, fitness for any particular purpose or other assurances as to the opinions and views expressed in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses suffered directly or indirectly arising from reliance on such opinions and views.

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