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by Abigail Van Buren

Woman Chafes Under Demands of Her Overprotective Mother

DEAR ABBY: I am a 35-year-old married woman who, unfortunately, has an overprotective mother. Mom was always clingy. When I was young I was rarely allowed to go anywhere without her, including visits to nearby homes of friends or family. She always had to come along, too.

Now, Mom is insisting I call her every night "so she can hear the sound of my voice" and I can let her know I'm all right. It's driving me insane. We live in the same town. If I go over to visit, she expects me to call her the minute I get home so she knows I'm OK. I finally put my foot down on that one. But still she pouts.

Mom is 70. If I tell her I won't call, she lays a guilt trip on me. The nightly phone conversation is always the same, and it has become a chore. I don't enjoy it, and needless to say, my husband isn't thrilled with it either.

I know of no one my age who calls her mother every night. Talking once a week to catch up on things would be better -- we could have an enjoyable conversation. How can I stop this without feeling horrible? Am I wrong? -- CONFLICTED IN SOUTH CAROLINA

DEAR CONFLICTED: I feel sorry for your mother. She apparently has no other life, no other interests beyond you. You have my sympathy, too, but at her age, it is unrealistic to expect her to change a pattern that was set 35 years ago.

I don't know how involved these nightly conversations with her are, but I recommend you make them very short. "Hi, Mom -- I'm home. Goodbye!" Alternatively, you could agree upon a signal such as one ring of the phone so she'll know you are safe. Even then, she probably won't be satisfied, so be prepared.