What It’s Like to be the Daughter of Parents Who Struggle Financially
I was ten years old when we first lost our home.
I was ten years old when we first lost our home.
Five of us, not including the baby boy growing inside my mom, packed our things, and we moved in with my dad’s parents.
There were three rooms in my grandparent’s house: my grandparent’s, my uncle’s, and the smallest one for the five of us.
I don’t remember what I felt those days. I was young, so I had no clue what was going on. I had no issues with anything, and I went along with everything.
All I knew was that it took a bit of extra time to arrive at school. What I remember is that by the time my brother was born, we were still in the same small room.
Six people. One room.
Nine people. One house.
Two bathrooms. One shower.
I cried about the situation for the first time in middle school
We went to elementary school by our old house, but when it was time for me to enter middle school, my dad told my sisters and I that we had to move closer to schools by my grandparent’s house.
Middle school was a whole other game. It was a huge change, and I was terrified, so when my dad told me I’d have to leave my friends — the ones I‘d be terrified with as we walked into a new school — I cried.
My sisters cried, too.
Plus, if I’m honest, the schools looked different from the ones we’d already grown accustomed to attending. They were older and dirtier, whereas the others were newer, clean, and in a nicer area.
One thing we dreaded was having to wear a uniform, but we got over it.
For most of the year, I owned two polo shirts and one pair of black jeans. I would switch off between the shirts until they were so worn we’d be forced to buy another.
I used to wear my black cardigan a lot during school, even if it was hot.
One day, I took it off, and my friends jokingly gasped and said, “Did you just take it off? I don’t think I’ve ever seen you without it on!”
I laughed, happy that I could take it off. I’d just bought a new white shirt.
The reason I hadn’t taken the cardigan off before was that there were black stains under my armpits from all the times I’d worn the same shirt, and they were unremovable.
I was too embarrassed to take off the cardigan.
When we finally moved out of my grandparent’s house
Throughout these three years, my dad was trying to become an entrepreneur and had been unsuccessful with his many ventures.
However, in the eighth grade, he met a friend who was building a new business. A friend who needed help. All of our help.
That was the first (and last) time I got an under-the-table job. It was also the first time my dad had found a job that was finally succeeding.
It did so well that months later, we were out of my grandparent’s house.
My parents surprised my siblings and me.
We had no idea we were finally moving out of the room we shared, which by then was the larger, renovated garage.
I just know that suddenly, they’d driven us to an apartment in the old area we used to live in and them telling us it was ours.
It was a two-bedroom apartment — one room for my two sisters and me, and the other for my brother and parents — but it was ours.
We didn’t have to be quiet at night because my grandparents were asleep. We could binge-watch The Walking Dead as a family at three in the morning. We could even have my mom’s parents come and sleep over for a week.
I’m not saying we didn’t have a lot of happy moments when we were at my grandparent’s house, but having your own place brings a different kind of joy — one that feels more everlasting.
That joy didn’t last.
Losing our home for the second time
The business fell apart.
We began struggling financially again, and suddenly, my parents were behind on payments.
We were forced to move back in with my grandparent’s. Back to the same room.
I don’t think I’d ever felt so disappointed as I did that day. I remember walking into the room, laying in bed, and falling asleep with anger boiling within me.
I was fifteen by this point, and the last thing I wanted was to share a room with my entire family. But I had to suck it up.
No matter how sad I was, life continued.
One more person in the house
When I was around fifteen or sixteen, my uncle’s girlfriend moved in.
Six people. One room.
Ten people. One house.
Two bathrooms. One shower.
It was around this time when I was becoming an older teen who just wanted to hang out with her friends, that I started getting angry at my parents.
I wanted to go out with my friends, but we lived too far and most of the time had no money for gas.
I wanted to invite friends over but I couldn’t.
I also needed space. There wasn’t one place where I could sit alone for a moment and breathe.
The worst part
The worst part about all of this is seeing how stressed your parents are.
My parents have always been open and honest with us about money. They tell us what they’re struggling with, what they’re going to do, and all of those details.
They didn’t hide their pain either. They cried. They got angry. They lost hope more than once.
All I could do was feel heartbroken.
We’d have to think of the cheapest thing to eat. My parents would have to borrow the money my grandparent’s had given me or my siblings or what we got for our birthdays. I won’t lie and say that didn’t piss me off when I was younger.
Time after time, my dad has tried to build businesses that never work. Sometimes, they work for a moment — giving us hope with a couple of thousand dollars — only to fail again.
Don’t judge how I feel
I might sound ungrateful.
You have a house, you might think. You might have to share a room, and it sucks sometimes, but at least you have a warm bed to sleep in. And you might struggle with food but have you ever actually gone one day without eating?
No, I haven’t. And yes, I am lucky.
I’m very grateful to my grandparent’s for letting us stay so long. And overall, I’m happy.
But this my struggle, and you have no right to judge it.
This isn’t just about a house. This is about the stress I feel when my dad doesn’t know what to do because he only has five dollars in the bank. This is about how I don’t know what to feel when my mom has to pay with coins.
Imagine you’re twenty-one and in this position:
Your parents have run out of money. They ask you one day if you can buy the food. Then, they ask you again tomorrow. And they don’t stop for two weeks.
We need milk, and eggs, and bread, and snacks for your brother. We also need more hair conditioner!
Sure, you say. You’re happy to help. But you also know that you haven’t gotten paid all month.
That was my situation last week. I was the one paying for everything. Hundreds of dollars gone, and just on the essential things.
I was happy to help, but my client didn’t give me work all month. The less money I had, the more stressed I became.
Imagine being twenty-one and having to support your family because your parents can’t.
It’s not easy being the daughter of parents who financially struggle
Some days, I’m so angry, tired, or hopeless that I don’t want to do anything.
I want to yell at my parents. I want to run out and never come back. I want to punch the wall until the burning in my chest has been soothed.
Time and time again, you watch your parents “fail,” and you just want to look up to the Universe and scream, “Give them a fucking break!”
It’s not easy. It’s tiring, and sometimes I wish I could escape it all. But I’m not giving in to all of the things trying to turn me into someone who gives up when life gives you everything it’s got.
How this story ends
This story doesn’t have the ending you expect.
I would love to say that eventually some business blew up and now we’re in the house of our dreams, that we’re not struggling with money anymore, but that’s not true.
My brother is now eleven. He‘s a year older than I was before we moved in, and we’re still living with my grandparents.
These are the major differences:
My uncle’s girlfriend has become his fiancé, and they moved out a couple of years ago. They now have an adorable girl who’s about to turn one.
My sisters and I share their old room. My parents share the other with my brother.
My grandparents occupy the re-renovated garage, which now has a bathroom with a shower in it.
It’s been eleven years since the struggle began, and we’re still holding on tight.
I’m not going to say it’s easy because it’s not.
There’s a lot of stress and anger and wonder and hopelessness. We still have some of the same problems — buying the cheapest thing to eat, exchanging water bottles for money, and what not.
As a twenty-one-year-old writer, I would love nothing more than my own room, my personal space.
It’s annoying when you’re working on the kitchen table, and then your grandpa comes into the living room (they’re in the same room) to watch soccer with the tv blasting — especially when you don’t have the best relationship.
But sometimes, all you can say is — it is what it is.
We’ve struggled, but I’m not sad
Every obstacle we’ve overcome has made me the person I am today.
Every struggle has made me a hard worker. It’s made me more determined to succeed with my own ventures so that I may never have to go through this again.
It’s taught me so much about trusting the Universe, not getting angry all the time, and appreciating what I have rather than picking out the things I don’t.
I don’t resent my parents. I’m not angry with them. Just as nothing I do could ever make them not love me, there’s nothing they could do that would make me not love them.
One of the hardest things is that this situation has put me in a tough spot.
For years, we’ve dreamed about the big home that’s waiting for us after all this is over. I want to move there.
But as I said, I’m twenty-one. I can’t live with my family forever. I wish it could’ve happened sooner so I could have years in that home, but sadly, that’s not the case.
Still, if I could go back in time, I wouldn’t change one thing about this. I am who I am because of everything, and honestly? I love who I am.
There have been a lot of tough times, but I love being the daughter of parents who’ve struggled financially.
Seeing my parents try new things over and over again, never give up, and start again when they mess up has taught me so much about resilience, bravery, persistence, and hard work.
I’ve learned that failure is not an end, but a beginning and a chance to try again. I know that support is so important. I don’t know what our life would look like if we didn’t all support each other, if I told my dad to give up and “get a real job.”
I wouldn’t care if we were here for another five years if my dad wanted to keep pursuing his dreams. I would never tell him to a get a “real job” because I know he’d hate it with everything in him.
Yes, we’ve been through a lot and have felt a lot of pain. But this is my biggest lesson:
Every tough thing in life sucks, but they’re gifts because you learn valuable lessons that change your life and you can pass on to others. And by the end of them, you come out stronger than ever, ready to face what’s coming next.
Every situation is different. Some might be ten times worse than mine. But I’ve learned that being angry and resentful and sad all the time isn’t going to do shit.
It won’t improve your situation, they’ll make you want to quit faster, and you’ll just feel like crap all of the time.
Life is better when you find the silver lining.