Question: Dear Luise: I’m a 21 year old college student and it seems like things have been going downhill for a while. In high school, my mom was extremely strict; she wouldnt let me stay the night at friends houses (for god knows why) after I’d been at a party or whatever. The first time I was too drunk to drive, I called her to come get me. She overreacted and took me to the hospital and then the next morning went and called everyones paretns who were there. What made this even worse was that this was during the first three weeks of being at a new school, so it ruined my reputation for the next two years. Plus, then I pretty much had to drive home after drinking after that because if I didnt make it home all hell would break loose. This last month, I got a DUI and, in accordance with school policy, I’m suspended for a semester. I know I shouldnt have been drinking and driving, but a part of me blames my mom for making me get so used to doing it all the time in high school. I dont think she actually knew that I ws drinking, but if she had any common sense she would have. On multiple occasions when I didnt want to drive I called her only to be told it wasnt arranged in advance and I had to come home. During high school, I got into some trouble with pot and what not. So after I graduated, my mom decided I wasnt “ready” to go to college, and made me work for the first semester of college and live on my own in an appartment. I begged her not to do that, but she insisted. This was by far the funnest part of my life, but now I have to work my a** off to catch up in school, I’m in classes with sophomores when I should be in classes with other juniors, I cant study abroad for a semester becasue I dont have the time to spend away from school, and perhaps most importantly I dont have the time to do the internships my peers are doing preparing for grad school. I’m predentistry and should have a whole lot more on my reseme than I do, and its becasue of starting a semester late. At the time I didnt think I had a choice because I thought they were paying for school. In fact, my grandparents had set up the college fund. Ugh that just makes me so mad!!! My mom told me I should put off dental school a year and graduate a semester late, but I’m not willing to do that. Shes a retina specialist and didnt do college and med school in the cookie-cutter fashion, and it seems like shes determined to do the same thing to me. She didnt have any friends or a social life so she assumed anyone who went out and had fun is a bad person. Its like she tried so hard to be the perfect mom and it just made me hate her and it completely backfired. My anger towards her keeps me awake at night, and I feel as if I wil never forgive her, especially if I dont make it into dental school. Is this wronge to blame her??? Ive talked to her about it before, and she wont accept any blame for it at all, she just says she did the best she could at the time. Thanks, B.
Answer: Dear B.: Blame is pretty much a dead end attitude. It doesn’t fix anything and it can start a denial-of-responsibility type of behavior that can follow you for the rest of your life. I would suggest you not go there. It looks to me like you and your mother are both equally at fault. She does weird, pretty unsupportive things but then, you have, too.
It also looks like the only way you are going to get into Dentistry School is to knuckle down and catch up. It isn’t great to be behind, I get that, but that’s the way it is. If you want to follow your plan to become a dentist…do what needs to be done to make it work. Adjust, compensate…and don’t waste your time hating anybody. The truth is that hate only hurts the hater…not the hated. Your mother may not know it, but you did the best you could at the time, too.
She isn’t perfect and she has done some things that have slowed you down. Let it go…or it will eat you alive. You aren’t perfect, either. We have to factor in being human whether we like it or not. Years from now, when you are a successful, practicing dentist, no one is going to know you got a slow start in college and didn’t finish as soon as you would have liked. Blessings, Luise