I am twenty-nine years old and have a nine-year-old daughter…. Eight years ago my mother died of cancer, and I was left responsible for my eleven-year-old sister and my sixteen-year-old brother…. We were not doing well financially, and I decided to start a business, but I made the mistake of mortgaging the house that my mother had left to all three of us. My business failed. I fought hard to pay off the mortgage, but it was impossible and I had to sell the house….

I feel that I betrayed my mother and failed as the older sister. I am depressed about everything that happened, but I need strength because I am afraid that I will also fail as a mother.

Dear Friend,

We are very sorry to hear about all the difficulties that you have been through. It sounds like you did the best that you could at the time, but it was too much financial responsibility for you to handle by yourself at such a young age.

It is possible that your mother thought that it was right to leave everything in your hands because you were an adult, you were honest, and you were willing to care for your siblings. Furthermore, there might not have been any other relative who was willing or able to help. But now you know that you were too young and inexperienced to have to carry the entire financial burden for your siblings.

Your desperation led you to do what seemed like your only option at the time, which was mortgaging the house. Now, when you look back, you know that it was not a good decision. But because of your youth and your desperate circumstances, you must forgive yourself for having made that mistake.

We recommend that children not be able to make decisions about any property or money that they have inherited until they are at least thirty years old. Until that time, there should be a trustee who handles the finances in a way that is best for all of the children. If your mother had appointed a trustee, then that person might have had to sell the house to provide the funds for you and your siblings to live.

You say that because you made some mistakes with your younger siblings, you now are afraid that you will fail as a mother. Your guilt and fear are keeping you from realizing that all parents make mistakes. The difference between the bad parents and the good ones is that the good ones don’t give up. They learn from their mistakes and they sacrifice their time and personal desires to provide stability, consistency, and unconditional love, even when the child is rebellious, obstinate, and hateful.

We, as God’s children, have all made mistakes, yet God, as our Heavenly Father, continues to parent us and offer us unconditional love. He continues to accept us and give us another chance even when we have been rebellious, obstinate, and hateful. He never gives up on us. Let us never give up on our children either. We can’t be perfect like God is, but we can be determined, consistent, and loving.

We wish you the best,