Stick to Your Guns


Dear Dharma,

I’m going through a breakup with my boyfriend and trying to find a new place to live.  I called my mom and she was pushing me to rent the room in the new house she and my dad just built.

I said no initially but then she made me feel bad by saying that I owe them for all of the piano lessons and classes they used their money for and that we should start paying them back.

They also told me to get rid of my pets and give them the “wasted” money instead.

I felt guilty about declining…but it made me wonder if I did owe them anything?  I know that when they get old and need help, I’ll be there….but paying off childhood debt doesn’t sound right?

What do you think?

p.s. you give the best advice ever…I love your site!

Tinkerbell, Stuck in Neverland

Dear Tinkerbell,

Thank you for the kind words, that’s very sweet of you… 🙂

Stick to your guns, Tinkerbell.  You are old enough to be breaking up with a boyfriend and living on your own, therefore old enough to be making your own decisions.

Parents sometimes have a hard time letting go and a harder time still realizing that the sphere of influence they have over their grown children dwindles with time.  If they are used to you doing what they’ve always told you to, like a good girl, they can start to grasp on pretty hard when that control starts to slip away.  Thus the guilt trip, which is unfortunate…

The fact that you got the guilt trip, combined with the lovely suggestion to get rid of your pets and give them the money instead, indicates that you may not have the best relationship with your mom. Probably why you said no to the “offer” in the first place, right?  The fact that you got the guilt trip should be reinforcing that notion, not making you question if you are doing the right thing.

Your parents made decisions throughout your childhood to fund things like piano lessons and classes.  That was their decision, non?  I’m assuming there was no discussion with their 9 year old as to how she was going to pay back that money over time…

Paying for and supporting a child is called… having a child.  It’s part and parcel, so don’t spend another moment letting your mom’s control issues cloud an already cloudy time in your life.

Focus on getting back on your feet and getting your life in order.  That should be payback enough.

Strength and happy thoughts your way, Tinkerbell.



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  • Annie says:

    Definitely agree. I’m a parent and I would never ask my child to pay me back for karate and dance lessons. Ever.

  • Tink says:

    Thank you Dharma. I do feel like they are guilt tripping me and it works because they know which buttons to push, but I won’t give in…. and I won’t sell my pets because that would be ridiculous. Im going to get stronger and focus on me. You’re the best!!

    • Dharma says:

      Tink! Hello there! Good, good, good – I’m happy to hear your resolve is strong! If there’s anything else Dharma can help you out with, don’t even hesitate…

  • Noland says:

    Don’t you dare go and move in with your parents!!!!!!!!

  • Peter in Neverland says:


    If you are this miserable at just the thought, imagine how terrible it will make you feel to actually be back in their house! Some parents sure know how to lay on the guilt but stay strong! You can totally figure out how to make it on your own!

  • anon says:

    Better to live on your own and go visit every now and then for the important stuff (IE Christmas, Birthdays etc…). Learn to create some emotional boundaries too…it sounds like your mom is a pro in making you feel like you’re doing something wrong.

Whether you agree with Dharma or think she missed the mark on this one, leave a Comment!

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