Monday, February 26, 2007

Mommy's little girl?

I have been having a lot of issues with my mother lately. I am 24 years old and she still tries to live my life for me. She tries to influence my life directly or indirectly every decision I make, from going back to school to how I spend my time. I have never been able to stand up to her and I am constantly looking for her approval. I want my own life but I do not know how to stand up to her or sever connections with her. Any suggestions?

Looking for Approval

Dear Looking,

Some parents never quite understand that their little ones have grown up. Sometimes that's because their children still live with them (their house, their rules, etc.), and sometimes it's because they are a little jealous.

You read that right. Jealous. Your description of your mother reminds me of the stereotypical Mother of the Bride. The MOTB is thrilled that her daughter is getting married, and wants to make sure that everything is perfect and up to her standards. So she demands the white roses, catering, wedding cake, venue...stop me if you've heard this before. The reason that MOTBs fall into this trap is because their mothers probably didn't let them plan anything either.

But back to your situation. You didn't mention if you still live at home, but if you do, the first step to getting your mom off your back is to move out on your own. This may be difficult if you're returning to school, but you'll have to weigh the price of freedom against her nagging. After you've moved out, you can then implement a few tricks to help get her off your back.

1. She can only make suggestions to you. Your mom can't have a bearing on who you're dating, where you're working or where you're living if she isn't somehow monetarily involved. When she says "I want" or "I think" or "You should," remember that she can't actually make the choice. So unless you're about to do something very harmful to your family or yourself, you do not have to take her suggestions into consideration. You merely have to listen to them politely.

2. You don't have to tell her everything. You say that your mom tries to tell you how to spend your time. Presuming you're not pulling an Evil Knievel, she doesn't need to be informed about your every move. You have a cell phone, right? She can call if she needs you. If you do feel the need to tell her what you're up to, do just that. Just tell her. It is not a topic up for conversation, merely a polite gesture to let her know you'll be out of the area for a while.

3. Every once in a while, take her suggestion. You don't want your mom to think that you're completely ignoring her, and frankly, she probably has some good ideas every once in a while. Don't ignore her opinion, but don't always feel pressured to share it.

Unless your mother is being abusive and toxic, I don't think cutting off ties is a smart idea. You can stand up for yourself without telling her off but by making your own choices. She may never approve of your choices, but at least you can make her feel like her opinions were heard.

Aunt Amy

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