DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: My mom has been very clingy and needy towards me for my entire life. While I know this is normal to an extent, it’s now getting to the point where it’s just too much.
I’m now married and live out-of-town. My mom will call me at least a few times a week and ask me if I love her. The answer is always, “Of course I do, Mom.” Sometimes she asks me to, “Prove it,” but I’m not sure how to do that as I have been through this routine multiple times with her.
She also takes great offense ─ even now ─ if I make a decision without her. It could be something as simple as buying a new blender for our kitchen because the old one broke. If I do that without consulting her on, “The best one to buy,” she ends up hurt that I don’t, “Care about her wisdom.”
In this same vein, my mother is hostile to my husband simply because she did not pick him out for me. She often says he is a, “Nice guy,” but, “Not the right one for me.”
I could go on and on about her. I have done my best to accommodate her while also asking her to please respect my privacy, but nothing has worked. The more I try to back away ─ even just a little ─ the more she tightens her grip.
What can I do about this, short of cutting her off completely? --- CAN’T DEAL WITH MY MOM
DEAR CAN’T DEAL WITH MY MOM: Parents do worry about their kids, no matter how mature and independent they are. And, every generation likes to pass along what’s been learned to ─ if possible ─ help avoid the constant reinvention of the wheel. Those are normal things, as is struggling with your place in the world once your kids are grown and living their own lives.
What your mom is doing to you isn’t normal or healthy for either of you. Her over-the-top behavior makes it sound like she’s the one in need of parenting, and as you may already have learned with your own children, things go better when limits and rules are set and consistently enforced.
One way to start that with your mom might be to establish a schedule for talking with her based on when you’re available. Remind her you have your own family to take care of, and you’ll be glad to speak with her once or twice a week, at a time convenient to you. When you talk, try to have topics ready to go, so you control the flow of the conversation.
Hopefully taking the reins will put some balance in the relationship, and help your mother see that you’re an adult with responsibilities; that focusing on your life doesn’t mean you love her any less, but rather that you’re just busy living ─ just as you hope she finds a way to do for herself.