I am 18. All along until recently, I believed that my mum, a single parent, was my real mother, but in reality, my biological mother is my mother’s sister, a woman I call aunt. When I found out, I felt betrayed and disappointed that this was not disclosed to me. Now, it appears I’ve to start all over again, building relationships or behave as though nothing has changed. I also feel that nobody at home shares my anxiety. In fact, they think I’m making a big deal out of nothing. My auntie (supposedly my mum) has a dysfunctional family, where she is the sole breadwinner — she keeps complaining about her husband (not my dad) who left her with three children to take care of. She has anger issues too, so connecting with her is hard. So here I am living with my mum, who is not my mum, and two brothers, who are not my real brothers and who I’m not close to. To deal with my complicated life, I started spending a lot of time online. I’m addicted to porn and masturbation and talking to my Facebook friends. I’m easily provoked and anger easily. I also think about suicide now and then. I’ve decided to write to you because I feel disoriented and purposeless.
Let me take this opportunity to first encourage you, to tell you that relationships are key in life. Making an effort to build a support system around yourself will be necessarily. That said, I can imagine the frayed relationship between you and your family. Other than the common struggles of life they are going through, you seem to have related fairly well. With a little effort and faith, you can strengthen your relationship with the woman you have known as mum all your life. She has cared for you all this time and I believe she will continue to do so.
True, your biological mother may have her issues, but you are not obliged to force a non-existent relationship. You do not say how you learnt all this: was it your personal initiative or did you stumble on this information by mistake? Whatever the case, she is still your biological mother while this aunt you always assumed was your biological mother has made great sacrifices to bring you up. Continue giving her the respect due to her.
I strongly believe that keeping this family you have grown with around you is key to your healing. I don’t think the adults in your life hid this information deliberately, and even if they did, they may have had a valid reason. You are now a grown-up, and at 18 years, there is a lot ahead of you, so you will require a sober approach to issues.
It’s clear that there’s a lot your family needs to walk through to deal with the issues you all currently face, but nothing is impossible. As a single parent, your biological mum and your adoptive mother, if I may call her so, need all the support you can give them. After all, they are both family. Also, you are of age, so you can determine how you will relate with your step-brothers. Being a single parent is hard and culturally challenging, therefore understanding what your two mothers are going through will release a new wave of hope.
Your biggest challenge will be to reconcile with the many issues you are facing. Your view of the challenges you face and how to walk through them will depend on your view of self. My prayer for you is that you learn to love yourself. There are many dysfunctional families, but many have come out strong and focused in the end. The choices you make will be key to your future success. You have an opportunity to rebuild that future through well-thought out choices. Don’t let the thoughts of defeat or failure reside in your mind. See yourself as able to surmount these problems.
You have talked about the suicidal thoughts you have been having. Don’t let the fact that you come from a dysfunctional family background make you to give up on life. It’s encouraging that you have recognised that crying out for help could change things. Your father made a choice to leave your mother; there is little she or you can do to change that. However, you have the ability to change how you feel about those around you. I challenge you to rise up and be the hope that your mother worked hard for. Giving in to suicide is not only defeatist, but also a sign of giving in to fear — fear that will rob your family. The pain suicide leaves behind takes very long to heal. We are here on earth for a purpose and it’s only you who can make this purpose be realised. I also need to point out that your addiction to porn and masturbation will further drag you down. It will give you a temporary way of coping with the feelings you are going through, but it’s not a solution. God created sex to be enjoyed in marriage, and masturbation is not the way sex was created to be enjoyed. It is but an act of self-gratification rather than an act of giving true enjoyment and pleasure. Worth noting is that those that practice this habit may find it hard to experience the full extent of the emotions involved in real sex in the future. Should one get married, there are those that find it difficult to have a normal sexual relationship.
Thank you for your great contribution to families. As I read about marriages today, my conclusion is that many of our young people see no problem embracing certain practices even when it is apparent that they will harm them in future. Some of these practices are against our cultural beliefs while others are against God’s commandments. It is saddening to hear of the difficult times that families are going through today. These days you hear of sexual practices that go against the laws of nature, relationships are not only physically abusive, couples are actually taking each other’s lives. Domestic violence is escalating at a great rate, yet marriage is a place where people expect love and affection. I worry for our children, mine included.
I share the same concern and I believe many others do. For most, the question is the same, “What happened to today’s society?”
The morals that families and societies once cherished are being challenged and slowly being replaced by new norms and beliefs that do not support the family unit.
Biblically, all this was predicted to take place as men became lovers of self than lovers of God. If one looks carefully into these issues, it boils down to choices. God created us with an ability to choose what we want to do with our lives.
With the advancement in technology and entertainment, a variety of beliefs and practices are being peddled across the globe. We are becoming more and more a consuming society than any other society in history.
The fact is that man’s choices are leaving behind a trail of emotional and physical pain. However, we have to be reminded that God made us stewards of all he created including the need to steward our own lives.
You and I can do our part in restoring the lost glory of marriage within the little spaces God opens for us. There is all sorts of information within our reach and as consumers, we need to count the cost before making a choice.
These choices, whether good or bad, will shape our minds, hearts, and actions. They will shape our future.
Pornography is on the rise, magazines featuring nude or sexually suggestive pictures can be found on shelves everywhere these days.
Sadly, these and many other factors are helping to mould and shape behaviour, define our interactions and consumption habits. We rarely need each other these days.
Phones and other social media outlets have become our buddies. Since the heart of man is key, the fullness and overflow of our hearts will be determined by the nature of our thoughts.
With all this in mind, the best we can do is to continue teaching, couching, and standing alongside our children. Let us be the shoulder they can lean on.