DEAR HARRIETTE: My mom and I do not have the most stable relationship. I have not spoken to her in years, and I've had to have a restraining order against her. Whenever people ask about my mom, I never know how to respond. These are sometimes family members and sometimes friends who have recently met me. I don't like being asked this question by people who know about our situation, and I want privacy on this topic. How do I politely draw the line that my mother is never a topic for conversation? -- No Mom, Washington, D.C.
DEAR NO MOM: I'm sorry to hear about the rift between you and your mother. Clearly, something horrible occurred for you to resort to having a restraining order against her. I can imagine that you would prefer not to talk about her. The good news is that you do not have to, at least not much. With family members, especially those who know your story, you can directly tell them that the topics of your mother and your relationship with her are off limits. If they keep asking, you can simply walk away or not answer. You can also ask them to respect your wishes to not discuss her.
For friends or people who have recently met you, you may want to take a slightly softer approach. Know that it is common for people to ask about your family, especially your mother, as they are getting to know you. It doesn't mean that they are being intrusive, necessarily. More, it is that they are making conversation. You can say to them that you and your mother are not close, and then change the subject. If you instead talk about another family member with whom you are close, it may help ease the awkwardness.