DEAR ABBY: I am a 26-year-old woman who has been married for a year and a half. After our wedding, my husband, "Wendell," and I moved 2 1/2 hours away from my hometown. I have a job in the catering business and my husband is a successful attorney. I'm happier now than I have ever been.
The problem is my mother, who has never stopped making me feel guilty about moving. Recently, Mom has become mean and offensive, saying maybe she should just forget about me rather than deal with the pain of my living so far away. She says she'd rather not see her future grandchildren at all if it's going to be only once or twice a month. Mother expects me to visit her whenever I have free time. She refuses to accept that I work full time and have responsibilities.
I have tried to reason with her; her only response is that I should move closer. I know she misses me, but I feel she is being unreasonable. I know of many other parents who have supported their children moving away. I'm afraid I'll lose my mother if I don't move closer. Can you give me some advice? -- MISSING MY MOM IN VIRGINIA
DEAR MISSING: Please don't sacrifice a life in which you are happier than you have ever been in order to please your mother. That you were able to marry and leave the nest is proof that she was successful as a parent. In some families, the umbilical cord is never severed -- it stays connected with chicken soup running in between -- and it's not healthy for anyone.
Your mother is suffering a sense of loss because, before you were married, her entire focus was on you. Many mothers are experts at the kind of manipulation you're experiencing, but you don't have to take the bait. Encourage her to become involved in activities and relationships that will be emotionally rewarding for her. When she starts threatening you with being forgotten, tell your mother that she may forget you but you will always love and remember her. When she says she'd rather not see her future grandchildren at all than once or twice a month, remind her that will mean a loss for everyone. But do not give in to emotional blackmail.