I am a girl in my grade school, and I am not popular. I get bullied around because of my weight, my race and my grades. It's been ruining my life, and I am sick and tired of it. Now my heart has been shattered into pieces because my mom has breast cancer and is going through treatment, and my dad works three jobs and he's trying to support the house. I've been selling most of my things away to let us afford the house, and life is very rough for me with the stress in my life. I'm taking care of the house, and my little brother is no help. Please, Mr. Chopra, help me!
— Sana A., Lake in the Hills, Illinois
I'm very sorry to hear you are being forced to take on adult responsibilities at such a young age. This level of stress is not appropriate, and the adults in your house need to realize that fact. You are being asked to do too much, and I sense that being a girl, your needs are given lower priority.
Here's a simple plan. Make a list of all the things you mention in your letter to me:
- My mother is struggling with cancer.
- My father works three jobs to support us, but we are struggling financially.
- I am having to take care of the household.
- School is very stressful right now, and the other kids make my existence difficult every day.
- I feel lonely and stressed from all of the above.
Once you have made your list, you have a hard decision to make. Either your parents have to act on it, or you must turn to someone outside the family. I know that in traditional families, as yours probably is, privacy is everything. Outsiders are not asked for help without feeling ashamed. But you have no choice. These are tough adult problems; no teenager should be asked to solve them alone.
I suspect that you cannot show your list to your father without making him feel bad. Can you use your mother to talk to him? If not, is there a close relative? Or someone where you worship? What you need is a caring adult who can go to your school and ask for help so you are not constantly bullied. Social services may also need to be contacted, because they might provide help for your sick mother.
I know I am asking you to take a big step, but everyone is expecting you to be grown up, and this is the grown-up thing to do.
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