Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Pregnant 18-Year-Old Unsure How to Talk to Family

DEAR HARRIETTE: My mother has criticized everything I’ve done since I turned 13. Now I’m 35 years old, and she still tries to tell me what to do. She tells me that my life’s a mess and that I should lose weight. She also tells me how to raise my children. I’m a grown woman, and she makes me feel like a child. Whenever I think I’m doing something good, my mother makes me feel the complete opposite. I value her opinion a lot, but it’s getting to be too much. How do I change her before I completely push her out of my life? -- At an Impasse, Denver

DEAR AT AN IMPASSE: Take a step back and evaluate your life. Think about the things your mother has said to you and, to the best of your ability, consider each one. Do you need to lose weight? Are her points about your child-rearing relevant? If she is giving you good advice but you don’t like the way she is delivering the message, tell her as much. Explain that it’s hard for you to take her suggestions when it feels like she’s criticizing you all the time. Tell her you respect her opinion, but you need to stand on your own two feet -- with her support, but not her judgment.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)