DEAR HARRIETTE: My semester ends in a week, and I’m dreading going back home. I live with my mom, little brother and older sister, and we all have a tough relationship with our mother. She was born and raised in Guinea and moved here after my sister was born. She has always shown us tough love, and it was hard growing up. It’s challenging for her to provide for us all the time, and there isn’t always food at home, which leaves us hungry all day. At school, having a scholarship and meal plan helps a lot, and my friends always make sure I eat if I ever run out of money. I want to find a job, but my mother doesn’t allow it because she thinks I’m too young. How do I make her see it’s necessary for me to work? -- Difficult to Adjust, Phoenix
DEAR DIFFICULT TO ADJUST: Sit down with your mother and thank her for working so hard to make it possible for you to go to college and build a life for yourself. Point out that you know how difficult it is for her to make ends meet. Tell her that you respect her and the family, and to that end, it’s time for you to help out. You know she is worried about your age, but tell her that many young people work in this country, from as early as 14 years old. My guess is that young people probably work from an even earlier age in her country, out of necessity. Ask her to give you a chance to help the family.
You might look for a work-study option. It’s late, but you may be able to find something.