Updated 31 Jul 2020


Dear Sis,
I read your column and am impressed with your suggestions. I am a 27-year-old girl who is not married yet. I am preparing for the CSS exams in 2021. I have five siblings, out of which four are married. My problem is my mother. She tortures us (my father, my younger sister and me) mentally. She does not do any of the household chores. My sister and I end up working all day. My mother does not take care of my father. Both my parents are always fighting. My mother always favours my elder brother, who does not work and spends my father’s money on his in-laws and on other wrong activities. My mother’s wrong behaviour has started affecting us. It also affects my studies. I can’t focus on my studies and I need your advice. Please respond to me. 

Dear Stressed,
Fights in the home can really make it difficult to focus on the task at hand and your studies are extremely important because your future is based on whether you pass the exam or not. Apart from fighting with your father, you haven’t said anything about how exactly your mother is torturing all of you. Strictly speaking, your parents’ fights are between them. While you can speak up and say that your brother is wrong to take money from your father to spend on frivolities, you are really better off staying out of the matter that is between your parents. Unless, of course, things become uncontrollable and there is obvious abuse happening. For the most part, pick your battles. Right now you need to conserve your energy for CSS 2021.

When it comes to household chores, sit your mother down and tell her that you are preparing for an extremely competitive exam and need to devote a lot of time to it. Go to her with a plan of how the household chores can be divided and make your sister a part of the meeting. The only way you will be able to accomplish this is if you are organised and disciplined about it. So plan how the chores will be divided and then sit down with your mother and sister to discuss and make any changes. Others may be resistant to organisation and discipline. However, you need to show your family that you are serious about your studies and are prioritising them. If you are able to come up with a plan, stick to it with, of course, some room for flexibility when required.

Could you talk to one of your other siblings or a relative you can trust about the situation at home? They might be able to convey to your parents about the seriousness of how their actions are affecting you and might even succeed in counselling them.

‘I can’t study due to tensions at home’

As for your studies, if it is possible, join a preparation group for the exam. Such groups must have gone online during lockdown, however, focused group study will help you to use your time effectively and help you get a routine in place. Another thing you can do is to study at a time when no one else is awake or at home. The quiet and peace at that time should help you focus.

At the same time, make an effort to stay fit by eating healthy and exercising. Also try and meditate to quiet down your mind and control your emotions. This really helps at times when everything in your family may seem to be falling apart. Also read motivational literature and about the lives of successful people who overcame adversity to make a difference in the world. These can truly help and make you realise that no one has it perfect or easy in this world. Everyone is dealing with one thing or the other, even those whose lives seem blessed from the outside. If you are spiritual, you will understand that you are never given more problems than you can bear.

You will get through this. Stay strong girl!

Auntie will not reply privately to any query. Please send concise queries to:

Published in Dawn, EOS, July 31st, 2020