Posted by: Susie | 2009/01/22

Overbearing mother

I am a 40year old woman,and my mother seems to feel she can say absolutely anything under the guise of being ' concerned' .She will question where I go,my motives in being friends with certain people,why I do certain things with my children etc.I have always tried to have an open relationship with her, but she feels she has the right to know absolutely every detail of my life,and if I don' t tell her something, she almost accuses me of being secretive.If I do stand up to her, she burst into tears,and then later tells me she' s" sorry if I think her concern is interference,she wont ever make that mistake again" .I am so tired of living this way.I have had advice from people who say to not give her too much detail about my daily activities,to confront her about the hurtful things she says,but if I do confront her, she twists everything I say in an ugly way, and bursts into tears again.She is constantly telling me that I don' t realise how my actions affect other people(like herself),almost as if I purposefully do things to hurt her.In fact I have been a model daughter.I love her,but I' m tired of being treated like a child.

Any advice?

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Our expert says:
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SO, to your mom, you are 50, going on for 14 ? When she's that compulsively nosy, there's no point i telling her anything she doesn't absolutely HAVE to know, as she will never be satisfied that she knows enough. Make it clear that you appreciate her being concerned, but that the way she chooses rto show that concern is very annoying at best, and disturbing at worst. Try, in discussion with her, to work out ways in which she can show her concern in ways that are actually useful to you. NOT a confrontation, a response that is far too fashionable these days, but a discussion.
When she treats you like an adult, rewad her with obvious appreciation and positive responses ; when she treats you like a child, ignore her ; and if she complains, say, well, it sounded as though she was talking so one of the children, so you weren't paying atytwention, as it clearly wasn't an adult to adult conversation.
But see if there aren't useful ways to use her energy and concerns. Its a bit like when I started doing surgery, an old surgeon I worked with told me thast whenever you remove a sample of tissue in an op, you should divide it into 3 pots. One you send to the lab for analysis, and the second you keep as a spare in care they lose the first one. "And the third ?" I asked. ""Oh.| he said:" You give that one to the nurse to throw away --- she always throws away one of your specimens, so this way she can do that, and your other two are safe."

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