Dear  Dr. Romance:

Q: My father died 1 1/2 years ago. My mom always snaps at me and my older brother and I think she has a serious problem.  I personally think it's a power struggle because she feels like she is loosing control over my brother and I.  But, what she doesn't realize is that we are becoming adults (my brother is already over 18) have to move on with our life and that what has happened can't be changed.  She always thinks we need to talk things over, but she keeps on repeating herself over and over again and that really makes me upset!

My brother is going to university in the spring and my mom just needs to learn how to relax and not get so uptight.  I told her maybe she should have some therapy and she said "do you know how much that costs...$100/h...and do u know how many sessions I'd need?"  She really does need it!

What should I do??  Please help our family is growing apart and things are getting bad.

Dear Reader: It's pretty normal to be upset at your mom when you're a teen, especially when the family is under stress because of the loss of your dad.  I was really angry at mine, too.  I'm sure your Mom is having a tough time raising the two of you, with your dad gone.  Maybe she is the one who needs to talk.  What do you think?

I'll bet therapy would help your mom.  She is probably grieving, and has no time to do it, with all her responsibility.  Please tell her for me (or let her read this) that she can go to The Family Services Assn. Jewish Family Services or Catholic Charities, she doesn't have to be Jewish or Catholic to go, and they have counseling on a sliding scale.  I don't know where you live,  but both of those organizations are in most cities.   If that doesn't work, any church will offer pastoral counseling, and probably some referrals.  Also, you or she  can call the Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) even if no one is suicidal, and they have good, local referrals.  Your school should have a counselor you can see, and get a referral for your Mom and your whole family.

I'm sorry it is so very hard.  Try to give your Mom a break -- it's a tough time for all of you right now, and fighting will just make it worse.  See how helpful you can be, and cut Mom some slack when she gets upset.  Her world was turned upside-down, too.  Check out some of the above references, talk to your school counselor, there is help available for all of you. You're a smart girl, to seek help for yourself and your family.   "Guidelines for Finding and Using Therapy Wisely" can help all of you find affordable counseling.  "Surviving Loss and Thriving Again" will help you, your brother and your mom understand the grieving you're going through. It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction will help all of you repair and heal your family. Your whole family can benefit from my e-book course: "Grief: What it is, Why we have it, and How to get through it"

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Author's Bio: 

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California since 1978 with over 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction; The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again; Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, The Commuter Marriage, and her newest, Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. She writes the “Dr. Romance” blog, and the “Happiness Tips from Tina” email newsletter.