Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

College-Age Daughter Stifled by Overbearing Mom

DEAR HARRIETTE: Even though I am a college student, I still live with my mother; it’s much cheaper than living in a dorm. I may be an adult, but every time I go out, I have to tell my mom where I am going. If I am out planning on being out late, I have to tell her how long I will be. Whenever it is dark out, my mom picks me up by my bus stop.

Recently, I have been telling my mom that I want to move out, mostly since I feel bad that she feels she has to take care of me. Plus, I have to contact my mother about my every move, and it feels like I have no privacy or freedom.

I love my mom, but I feel like she is a bit overbearing. I want her to trust me to be independent, but I don’t want her to think I am mad at her. How do I tell my mom that I am responsible for myself and that she shouldn’t baby me? -- Mom’s Little Girl

DEAR MOM’S LITTLE GIRL: The cost of living at home with your mom is following her rules. It is in her DNA to worry about her daughter. I remember when I used to come home to visit my family as a young adult. Even then, my mother would stay up until I got home from wherever I was. At first I was frustrated and angry at her for trying to control me, then I took some time to think about it. While under her care, I became her little girl again. She could not rest without knowing my whereabouts. That’s the deal with motherhood.

So, you need to accept that while you live with your mother, you have to keep her updated. You can remind her that you are becoming a woman and need to be independent. You can ask to establish guidelines for coming and going that may put her at ease. But ultimately, this will not change much until you have your own place.

DEAR HARRIETTE: THE IRS has been breathing down our necks for some time now because my husband has neglected doing his taxes for years. I have begged him to get on it. I reminded him of that saying that the only constants in life are death and taxes. He scoffs at all of it.

Now the IRS is threatening to garnish his wages if he does not comply. I haven’t worked for years, so all of the financial responsibility in our family is on him. I have offered to help him get his papers together, but he refuses. I am afraid that if he doesn’t do the paperwork, we will lose everything. If his wages are garnished, we won’t be able to pay our rent or anything. How can I get him to take this seriously? -- Do Your Taxes

DEAR DO YOUR TAXES: Sit down with your husband, and lay out your worries. Tell him that you will do anything you can to help him to get your taxes in order. Remind him of the threat that you have received. In case he doesn’t know, tell him that not only can the IRS garnish his wages, they also can put him in jail. Nag him every day. Look through his papers yourself, and try to sort things out. Since it is not just his taxes but yours as well, you have every right to intervene.

(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.)