1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

If parents don't want you to study because they think it's useless?

  1. Jan 16, 2013 #1
    I'm not sure if this is the correct sub-forum to post in, but I am in need of some advice on what to do.

    I am 24 years old and I live with my mom and my half-sister. I started my undergraduate career recently after a long feud with my mother. My mom says that a physics degree is useless, and I told her about the various jobs in research and development or finance I could get as a physics Ph.D. She says that it is unrealistic because I am not smart enough for those things and that I should just work in a trade such as plumbing or carpentry or something. She believes that I have narcissistic and sociopathic tendencies because of the fact that I have the grandiose idea that I think I can do physics, and she thinks that only geniuses like Albert Einstein can practice in the field. I don't personally know any "normal" physicists, so I could not provide support for my defense. I tried to show her PhysicsForums, but she's technologically ignorant and thinks that every member on this forum is a robot or something. She can't seem grasp the concept of the internet (she's over 50 years old).

    So I ignored her and try to study for school anyway, and she says that I should at least work full-time to pay the rent and bills because she's getting old. I don't mind working, but in order to maintain my current 4.0, I feel that if I begin to take hours off studying to work, my grades will drop. I asked her to hold out a few more years until I begin my Ph.D program, but she says that all of her friend's kids worked 50 hours a week while maintaining 4.0s and went to graduate schools like Harvard, Yale, etc. albeit for literature or some other subject in the arts, which she claims are all more difficult than the field of physics. She also thinks that another characteristic of being a sociopath is studying 12 hours a day (which I usually do) and thinks I need psychological help because nobody she knows studies that much and believes those kinds of hours to be irrational, although I know many students on this forum probably study for those hours.

    The reason I cannot continue to ignore her is that she takes me to school and asks to check my class schedule, and I have to be home whenever I'm not in class or else she'll kick me out of the house and then I won't know what to do when I don't have anywhere to go. But when I am home, she won't let me study. She scolds me for hours on end and talks mostly about God. If I try to study or don't listen to her, she will take my schoolwork/notes and rip them up. On a couple occassions, she threw my laptop on the floor in attempts to break it (fortunately, unsuccessfully). Sometimes she wakes up in the middle of the night if she can't sleep because she's worried about me, or has a nightmare about me failing in life or whatever, and wakes me up and begins to scold me again about life. Our family lives in a studio apartment, so we all share one room, and it especially annoys my sister (who wants to drop out of high school when she turns 16, smokes, does weed, drinks alcohol, etc.). So basically, none of us get along.

    The primary issue I want to focus on is to how to get more study hours in so I can still maintain my 4.0 GPA before applying to graduate school. Do any of you know of techniques of studying aside from traditional textbook reading/solving problems on paper so that it looks like I'm not studying? Or maybe some ideas on how I may be able to reason with my mother or some other suggestions on how to escape from this situation? Thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 16, 2013 #2
    There are so many things to say about this, but I'm not going to tell you how much I think your mom is wrong, you know that just as well, if not better, as me. Just continue to ignore those things.
    With respect to your study, does your mom let you go out, on weekends or even during the weekdays? If so, just tell her you are going out with some friends or alone and go to the library or some place that you find appropriate, where you can study.
  4. Jan 16, 2013 #3
    Simple solution: move out. You're 24 years old, you are more than capable of living on your own. On Craigslist, I posted an ad asking if there were any older people who needed help cooking and cleaning around the house in exchange for me taking a room. There were TONS of people that responded. Some free but almost all under $150-$200! Do the same with churches.

    Or pay your mom rent. Does she help you pay for school?

    Work a job. I did and I maintained a 4.0. I got paid almost $15 an hour tutoring math. It was awesome. I got out of school debt-free and did so without any assistance of my parents.
  5. Jan 16, 2013 #4


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    You are quite right about the dedication required to succeed in science.

    This might sound harsh, but it sounds like it's time to cut the apron strings. You're an adult man and it's time to move out of the house.

    Go talk to the financial aid office at your school about what your options are.
  6. Jan 16, 2013 #5


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    The solution to your problems can be summed up in two words: Move out.

    Also, try to be there for your sister. It seems like she needs a good role model who can show her the value of a good education and hard work.
  7. Jan 16, 2013 #6


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    It might sound harsh, but that's probably the only good thing she could do for you right now.

    If your are smart enough to get a 4.0 GPA, you are certainly smart enough to solve a simple problem like "finding somewhere to live". If the disruption messes up your "perfect" grades for a semester, or even a year, that's nothing compared with messing up the rest of your life.
  8. Jan 16, 2013 #7
    Hi kevinferreira,

    No, I am not allowed any free time. I'm not allowed to have friends so there's that. But thank you for the suggestion.

    FalconOne, lisab, and G01: your advices in common are to move out. I have played it out in my head plenty of times, but I'm not sure I can make it on my own with nothing. I have never been to the outside world on my own before, and in my fantasy, I always fail. I've been casually applying to jobs for the sake of my mother, but I haven't been able to get one yet. I'm not sure how the hiring process works or why I'm not a strong candidate as a McDonald's or something. My mom doesn't really care about money, though. Even if I paid all the rent and bills (I have before I started school, but my source of income was slightly shady and I would never do it again), she would still want me to get a "normal" job as a plumber or mechanic or electrician or something. She complained a lot about me being a loser because I wasn't one of those occupations.

    I am paying for school through financial aid and loans (all maxed out). I am not concerned about being in debt because I am fairly confident I will be able to pay them off once I finish all my schooling and get a job.

    I'm not sure how I will be able to move out without any money at all, but I guess the ultimatum is that I have to take a hit on my GPA in order to work. I am not smart enough to maintain a 4.0 without studying the hours I do now, but the other problem in working is the transportation costs, which is still a large chunk of my income (at the very least $100+ per month). The necessities then become a large concern for me...I once helped my mom apply for food stamps, but for some reason they rejected her because I believe she makes more than $15,000 per year and that's too much income, apparently. So I'm not sure how I will eat day to day.
  9. Jan 16, 2013 #8
    Hi AlephZero,

    I am not so sure my GPA can translate to resourcefulness in the "outside world." As people call it, 'book smarts' and 'street smarts' though they might not be mutually exclusive either. I don't think my life will be "messed up" or ruined by this, but it seems to be the general consensus to leave this environment entirely. So, I will take that advice to heed.
  10. Jan 16, 2013 #9
    If there is no other man in the picture like your father or your half-sister's father, I think it's best you stay there. But you have to convince you mom that what you're doing is for the best.
  11. Jan 16, 2013 #10
    Yes, because women can't possibly function without a big, strong man.:uhh:
  12. Jan 16, 2013 #11


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Everyone eventually has to go out on their own. It will be hard, but it is inevitable and it seems that, in your case, it will be more sensible to move out sooner rather than later.

    Have you considered applying for work study positions at the university. It might not be enough on it's own to pay your rent, but combined with some money from your student loans, you might be able to make it work. Work study jobs assume the employee is also a student, so there is the benefit that your employer is sympathetic to your need for study time.

    You should also make use of your university's or college's counseling services. Cost is usually included in the tuition you are already paying, and talking to a professional in person about the situation will surely help much more than an internet discussion. A professional might also have good advice on how to assert your independence without negatively impacting your sister or mother in the long term.
  13. Jan 16, 2013 #12
    I don't agree with that and that's not my reason for saying that. The way he described his mother and sister gives me the feeling they need him there.

    I only said 'another man' because I assumed that the only other family members that could be there were either his sister's father or his own. He could have some uncles, aunts or cousins but he probably would've mentioned them.

    Edit: I don't mean any disrespect to the original poster's family. There are many reasons that his mother and sister would act that way but ignoring whether it's their fault or not, I think they need support (judging by what's been written by the original poster.)
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2013
  14. Jan 16, 2013 #13
    But mostly it will be outside of your comfort zone. You CAN do this! And you will be so much better off.

    The bond of family is hard to ignore, but even if people are related to you they still need to have resspect for you and earn your respect in kind. It sounds like your mother is being really unfair by refusing to acknowledge your point of view. That's unacceptable behaviour from anyone and you shouldn't feel guilty for wanting to get away. You sound like an exceptionally hard-working person and you deserve the opportunity to pursue your studies if that's what you want in life.

    I strongly support the notion that you ought to speak to a professional counsellor to help you work through this and maybe gain some confidence in your ability to live independently.
  15. Jan 16, 2013 #14
    Why not move to your campus? And tell your mom if she was a good parent she'd support your decision of wanting to be happy.
  16. Jan 16, 2013 #15
    Get away from her at all costs. That is all.
  17. Jan 16, 2013 #16
    You have to move out.

    You're 24 and your mom drops you off at college and wants you home when not in class? That's crazy.
  18. Jan 16, 2013 #17


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    The combination of the above statements with the fact that you are a 24 year old is just bizarre.

    I second the fact that you should seek counseling at your school.
  19. Jan 16, 2013 #18


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    There are a lot of flags here that suggest you're really setting yourself up and getting set up to be in a not so great situation when you eventually do move out or finish graduate school.

    First off, the relationship with your mother sounds extremely controlling, but I suspect we're not getting the entire story. Does this "shady" means of generating income have anything to do with her behaviour? I don't know what this was about but even if there is not conceivable way that she could know about it, there's probably something there that's eroding her trust in you, which is driving her controlling behaviour. So one suggestion is to really look at effective means of building trust with her. This is meant as advice on strengthening your relationship though. I strongly concur with the move out advice offered above.

    On to the financial things. Maximizing your student debt load and not gaining any work experience is, in my opinion, a poor choice. There is much more to life than a 4.0 GPA. Marks, matter - particularly if you're aiming to get into graduate school, but studying for twelve hours a day will (a) burn you out, (b) leave you with very little work or life experience, and (c) eat away at your health. At 24 you probably won't notice this last one, but you will at 35. You're also banking on getting a pretty decent, high-paying job once you graduate. I'm sure many people on these forums that one thing that sucks more than post-doctoral salaries are post-doctoral salaries with a mountain of student debt to pay off. Also, it's probably worth mentioning that most people actually do better in their studies when they take a break once in a while. So what to do about the money side of things...

    First, with a 4.0, have you looked into scholarships? Marks like that can earn you a free ride in a lot of places. Remember, too that you're not automatically considered for every scholarship or financial award that you qualify for. You have to apply.

    Second, get a job. It doesn't have to be a lot of hours. Start out with one four hour shift every week for example. Just about any student can manage that. And then work full time over the summer. This can have a tremendous impact on your final debt load, help you develop some marketable skills (and yes, even the basic customer service experience of working the window at McDonald's can count), and help you to identify aspects of a career that you will either want or not want.

    Good luck.
  20. Jan 16, 2013 #19


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    (1) Make an appointment with an academic counselor at your school. (2) Go to your school's financial aid office, get all the info you can, and start studying up on how to become financially independent of your mother. (3) Develop a financial plan for moving out. (4) Move out.
  21. Jan 16, 2013 #20
    Woah yes you need to move out and do it fast. That is not normal for a parent to act like the way your mom does. Sorry I don't want to sound rude. Your 24 and you got a lot going for you. As it is your mom should definitely be proud of you since you do have exceptional marks. With that GPA you should be able to get a lot of scholarships and grants. I'd talk to a counselor as fast as possible and ask what is there for me.
  22. Jan 17, 2013 #21
    When I started my undergrad degree in physics I did so against the suggestions of some members of my family (mother was one) for one of the same reasons: future employment prospects. Fortunately where I live, my financial situation + academic performance was awarded with full tuition and a living stipend so I didn't have to depend on my family's support. Later they realized I was really enjoying it and they became more supportive (though not as much as I'd like).

    If you've got a 4.0 in the states I'm sure you're eligible for more than one scholarship. But right now I think you probably need to do something about your financial independence for the next few months before studying 6+ hours a day.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook