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not sure what to do with parents


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Right now I seem to be having a host of major issues in life and my parents aren't exactly being supportive or understanding. In fact, they seem to aggravate every single problem that I have. The trouble is that I'm still in college taking on a very demanding major and thus am dependent on them.


A list of the issues I'm currently dealing with and my parents' response:


1. My long-time girlfriend is in China teaching English, and she will come back to the US around mid-August to continue college. Trouble is, her parents do not want to help her financially and are abusive and manipulative, so I feel obligated to help her out so she isn't subjected to them. The only reason she went to China with them was because she couldn't make enough money here, and she was kicked out from the homeless shelter where she was staying because of a budget cut. It is obvious that she would not be able to make enough money to support herself if she attends college full-time, but it's a catch-22: it's far more difficult to keep a job without a college degree than with one.


Parents' response:

They told me that if I get a job, I can't spend my money on helping her because they would cut off my college tuition and any other support they give me, including food money and other essential expenses. They generally don't like my girlfriend, and my mother constantly stoops to calling her very nasty things and threatening physical harm. I have a job guaranteed to me during the school year, but I can only put in 6-9 hours of work every week due to my courseload, and so that would make me $300 a month at most. If they cut me off, I would not only not be able to help my girlfriend, I would go under very quickly.


2. I needed to get a job during the summer to help protect myself better from the above situation. It's fairly difficult to find work, and I spent a lot of time looking for it, albeit unsuccessfully, due to the crappy economy and high unemployment in the area.


Parents' response:

"Why do you want a job now? Are you trying to support that b****? Like we said, you are not to do that!"


3. Most of the time, I like to study without them micromanaging me. I get decent grades, but this is a huge problem, especially with my mother. Just last night, I had quite an argument with them over a project that is due next Thursday. I couldn't work on it before now because we didn't cover the material in class necessary to do it yet. Even with the covered material, I have a hard time understanding the topic and the textbook is extremely vague on it. thereforeee, I look for sources on the internet, and once again, that takes a little time.


Parents' response:

"I don't give a s*** that you didn't learn it in class before! If you don't get it done by tomorrow, you can't go to your job training for the fall!"


I am at a serious loss on what to do here. Talking to them seems to calm them down temporarily, but when a new issue comes up, the arguments/threats start again.


Any advice?

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I think you need to talk to the financial aid office, and see what they can do for you and for your girlfriend (separately, not together) if neither of you is receiving support from your parents. They almost certainly have dealt with this kind of situation before.


I don't know how much financial assistance you're receiving from your parents, but you may want to consider the value of that money vs. making your own decisions. Paying for your own room and board may mean debt, significant debt, but it may still be the more attractive alternative.


Unfortunately, I don't have direct experience to share with you, since I got by with a combination of scholarships and programming jobs that paid much better than what you have.

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My parents don't like my girlfriend for two reasons.


Firstly, they know she and I were together for a long time and that we're getting serious about the relationship. They know how controlling and plain scary her parents can get, and they don't want the prospect of them being around if we end up getting married. I understand where they're coming from, but unlike them, my solution would be to not contact her parents instead of breaking off the relationship. My girlfriend would also keep contact to a minimum once she returns. My opinion is that she should not be judged for whatever her parents do.


Secondly, they seem to think that she wants to take advantage of me. I strongly disagree with that opinion for several reasons. My girlfriend has three choices: stay with her parents, try to work/study and have me help her out, and go to a homeless shelter or out on the street. She also suffers from PTSD from the long-term abuse that she went through, and sometimes she needs to talk to me or be with me for a little while to get through the day. My parents perceive that as weakness, though I and all the therapists she's seen would be surprised if she acted otherwise. If she had the means to support herself, I would say that she's taking advantage, but this is not so.


Regarding financial aid, it's troublesome. Due to the housing shortage at my university, I can't dorm there, since I currently commute. I can get a loan to cover my tuition, which I will probably do, but my parents could cut off everything else if I try this as well. I have academic scholarships and a scholarship from my father's company, but I lost the company scholarship when he was laid off. My girlfriend is also in a bad spot. Due to the fact that she is with her parents again, she is still considered a dependent, and so she can't get any meaningful tuition assistance. State law says that she has to be completely independent for a year before she gets anything. She spent a lot of time in her college's financial aid office begging for a loan or some tuition leniency, but they couldn't give her anything. Her college does not have dorms, so she cannot get a loan for housing, either.


Basically, while we're at college, neither of us have the ability to support ourselves without the other. With our courseloads and with the area where we live, it's simply impossible to find a stable job that pays high enough. If my parents didn't cut me off, then she and I could make enough money to support her alone.

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OK, I have an update since last week. A few things happened, and a few things didn't.


I decided to go ahead with working to help my girlfriend, despite what my parents want. I went to the training last Sunday, and it went pretty well. I have two more sessions for that job I need to go to: one next Thursday, and one the Tuesday after that. Today I also attended a training session for my university's fundraising center (they're looking for callers to dial alumni and ask for donations). I start the fundraising job tomorrow. If I stay employed at the fundraising job, I should have around $700 from it by mid-August. I'm also building a computer for a friend of mine, which should net me a couple hundred (it's an octo-core rackmount server, expensive). I'd say that in total, this should cover my girlfriend's deposit for her room if/when she arrives.


The problem is that my parents are getting suspicious that I'm working all of a sudden. I told them that I feel left out because many of my friends have jobs, but I'm not sure they like that answer. On the other hand, my dad did say something interesting today: "If you're doing it for survival, you have to keep this job for as long as you can." He knows the situation with my girlfriend, but I think he doesn't want to help because my mother is so dead-set against it. I feel like he should do it if it's something he WANTS to do, but I'm in no position to ask him for it.


Last Sunday, I also sent an email to my girlfriend's father, briefly explaining to him my current situation with regards to work and parents. I haven't received a reply yet, but sometimes it takes him a while. I do feel very worried about her, though. A part of me feels like her parents will keep her from coming back here or try to brainwash her into staying over in China for good. They are truly manipulative.

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I doubt people will reply to me, but I have another update here. I didn't last at the telephone fundraising job. They needed new hires to maintain a 30% donation rate in the first three days, which is a little insane. I got a call list that was extremely outdated, and I got no pledges my first two days. I tried doing everything they advised me with, but it seems people just don't like my voice. I was about to get fired today (third day) for not making the quota, but I walked out on my own. At least I got $80 out if it, but now I need a new job, and those are very hard to come by around here. I have one guaranteed by mid-August, but there's still a month where I need some cash.


My parents were quite upset that I walked out and didn't stay until they fired me, which would be a couple of hours at most. However, despite my obligations to my girlfriend, that place was pure torture to me (I'm an introvert and it's hard for me to sound convincing or improvise speech without pausing). It killed me every time I blatantly lied (by obligation) to someone on the phone or I talked to someone who was in debt up to their eyeballs and I had to ask them for money FIVE times. I was seriously thinking of some kind of "goodbye present" for them, such as deleting the call lists on their server, if I stuck around just a bit longer. I decided it wasn't worth the trouble and just left. My mother said that I have some major issues if I was thinking of doing that, but at the time, I hated them and myself enough to do it. I still hate myself for wasting time and putting up with it when I should have declined at the interview and moved on.


I know I'm getting quite off the original topic, but this made me think and realize that the only time in recent memory when I was actually happy was when I was with my girlfriend. She is by no means perfect, but she is a very good match for me and we learned new things about each other every day when she was around. Now that she's gone again, I miss her like crazy, can't sleep, cry nightly, and the most troubling thing is the uncertainty of her return due to her parents. I'm not afraid of working to help her: I've had bad jobs before, and good ones too, but it's the trouble of finding one and finding some peace with my parents about it. I wish they could just let me do what I need to do, but my mother doesn't seem to get it, and she's the head of this house.

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