Ask Sam letter


To Sam

Sick mom, little brother, and difficult dad'S

Dear Sam,
Sorry for such a long email!
Arthitis runs in my family and for a few years my mum has had numitoid arthiritis (not sure of spelling). This makes her incredibly sore and with a 1 and a 1/2 year old brother it is even more difficult. I love my brother so much and want to be there for him and my family as much as I can, but...
His dad is not my real dad. S.D (short for step dad, though he's really a permanent partner) He can be difficult because he's always accusing and jumping to conclusions and getting in moods and I feel like me and, instead of living with him, have to tolourate him instead. Yes, he can be fun, but sometimes I just want to hit him. He's always starting problems. He says "Always got an excuse" to me and I think 'Always got a complaint'
This never helps when you've got a sick mum and your brother is a lot of work. But having said that he is good and he is always there for me. He's just difficult.
As for my real dad. I have never met him and we have been trying to arange a letter for ages, but as the time comes near I'm scared, in case he rejects me.
I do a lot of looking after my brother and my mum respects that because she just can't cope with so many things. She's just been offered a new treatment which is the one they use for cancer, except less extreme. Now I'm even more scared, because that means my mums gonna be sick and weak and still have to work.
I think what hurts most is watching my mum cry. I hug her and she says, "I'm so sorry... It shouldn't be this way!"
She talks to me about young carers groups, but they never get back to me and that means I'm stuck. And she dismisses childline (She doesn't know I use it) even when she spoke to me about counciling when I started getting depressed.
Depression is quite a problem for me: at the moment I feel like someones trying to kill me and I have stopped drinking tea in case of arsenic poisoning. Go through these fazes. Can I ask if thats normal?
All this is building up on me and I'm scared!
I'm really scared!
Ask Sam


Hi there,

Thanks so much for sharing what’s happening for you and your family.

You sound like you’ve been thinking about them a lot and that you want to be there for your brother and your family. From what you explained, your step-dad often jumps to conclusions and gets in mood. It sounds as though you feel you are sometimes just trying to stand living with him, rather than being able to enjoy him being around. How do you think it would feel if you spoke to him or another family member about this? 

You mentioned that he can be fun at times so perhaps you could let him know how his behaviour is affecting you when you feel he is in a better mood. If you’re worried about doing this on your own, perhaps you could ask a person you trust to be there with you when you talk to him. I can tell that you give a lot of support to others and you deserve support too.

It sounds like you have been working on a letter to your real dad but you’re scared of being rejected by him. It’s okay to take your time when you’re making important decisions like this and sometimes it can be helpful to talk it through so you can explore it a bit more. You’re always welcome to talk to a ChildLine counsellor about this so that you can choose to do what feels best for you.

I can tell that you have a lot of caring responsibilities at home and it seems as though your mum thinks it could be good for you to contact a Young Carers’ group. You mentioned that they never get back to you and that leaves you feeling stuck. I’m not sure which Young Carers’ group you’ve tried to speak with but there are lots of organisations that support young carers. Here’s a few you could try, if you haven’t already:

  • Carers’ Trust offers advice and support for young carers
  • The NHS also has a “hub” where you can find out about more services available to support you

Perhaps you could check out some of these organisations with your mum. You could also have a look at the page for young carers on this site.

What you see your mum go through sounds really painful and I sense that you love her a lot. It seems like she is upset that you’re having such a hard time and feels it is important for you to have help. How would it feel to talk to your mum a bit more about the sort of help you’d like? You seem as though you’re good at expressing yourself through writing.  I’m wondering whether you feel it might help to start keeping a diary as a way of letting out some of your feelings.

I’m concerned to hear that you’re feeling as though someone might kill you. If you feel as though that might be something that’s actually going to happen, it’s really important to let somebody know about it as soon as possible. You can call 999 for emergency help if you ever feel in danger. If you think that you might be having this fear because you’re feeling depressed and under a lot of stress, then it could be a good idea to get some help from a health professional. You can make an appointment with your doctor to talk about this more. There’s also lots of information about mental health issues on the ChildLine website and on the Young Minds website.

It can be normal for people who are going through a very hard time to start to develop a fear or “phobia” but as it can have a big effect on your life, it’s useful to get professional support with it as soon as you feel able to.

You’ve done so well to tell me about all of this and I’m really glad that you wrote. Caring for others can feel good but it can also be tough and the person doing the caring needs to have support too.

Hope this helps.

Take care,


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