DEAR ABBY: I have been dating "James" for almost a year. Things have been rough for him recently. His depression has led to school attendance issues, but we got through it.
The problem is James' mother. She's well meaning, and she has always been incredibly sweet to me, but she has started texting and questioning me about how I am doing, regarding her son and the "trials" he brings to our relationship (or her perception of them). I appreciate her concern, but it makes me very uncomfortable.
Perhaps she asks out of concern for me, but it seems like she's trying to speak on his behalf or defend him somehow, which makes me feel awful. How can I explain to her that something which is meant to be as simple as "Are you doing OK?" is hurting me? -- TWISTED UP
DEAR TWISTED UP: If James' depression is severe enough that it is interfering with his education, his mother has a right to be concerned. She may be trying to assess its severity by reaching out to you. On the other hand, "How are you doing?" can be classified as an innocent question.
Because you are uncomfortable with the way these conversations are going, respond that you are fine and ask her how she is doing. You do not have to engage in conversations with anyone who makes you uncomfortable, and if someone ventures into sensitive territory, you have every right to say you prefer not to discuss it and change the subject. If she wants information about her son, the person she should be asking is him.