DEAR ABBY: I'm 23, the only child of a controlling, paranoid, hermit-like and hyper-religious mother and a peace-loving, passive father. I graduated from college last year. Shortly after, my boyfriend and I accepted dream jobs in the same town several hours away from my parents.
Mom was appalled. She "warned" me that I wouldn't last and would come home. Instead, I have embraced my new city and job. Mom is at her wits' end. When I mentioned that my boyfriend had recorded a movie for me, she said he was controlling me via technology. If I tell her about a project I initiated at work, she says my employer is taking advantage of me.
Mom pays for a landline in my apartment that I don't want, but she insists because she's convinced that cellphones cause cancer. She calls me constantly, and if I don't answer she leaves frantic messages about how "disrespectful" I am, and how she and Dad are "praying for my soul."
This has gotten out of control. I try talking to her, but she won't listen and laughs at the idea of counseling. She says it's her "job" to tell me what to do. My father agrees that her behavior and approach are wrong, but says she has good intentions and I need to "work with her."
Abby, I don't know what to do. She's becoming increasingly controlling and worried about my soul. I'm worried that my distance is affecting her health. Some advice, please! -- WANTS A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP WITH MOM
DEAR WANTS: If you return home because you're afraid having moved away and asserting your independence is negatively affecting your mother's health, you will never have a life of your own. Because she laughs at the idea of counseling doesn't mean that you shouldn't get some in order to help you separate yourself from her constant efforts to manipulate you.
Her dependence on you is not normal. That's why you should enlist the help of a mental health professional. It will give you some insight in how to deal with her. If you try to "work with her" without that help, she will suck you in and you will never be free.