Dear Debbie;

I’m having a problem with my mother! I’m forty years old and she still treats me like I’m under her authority and control. She criticizes the way I raise my kids, how much I spend for groceries, and gets her feelings hurt if I don’t call her every day. Usually I just let the hurtful comments pass, but I can tell I’m losing confidence in my ability to make decisions for myself. The more I try to please her, the more critical she gets (like this: If I call her, I hear about how I “never” call her anymore). Help!


Afraid I’m Not Good Enough

Dear Afraid;

The more we put our own ideas and needs aside to try to gain the respect of others, the more we lose it. Your mother is trying to hang on to the relationship she had with you when you were a dependent child. Perhaps she fears she will lose you altogether if she treats you like an adult. Whatever her reason, your business is to lovingly and firmly set your boundaries as to what comments you will not tolerate about your personal life. A relationship between adults must be based on equal power and respect to be worthwhile. By letting her inappropriate comments pass, you have given her permission to treat you as a child. It is time to clear the air. She may be defensive at first; she may even “punish” you by pouting. Be patient, and don’t allow this to make you give in. Seek counseling if you are unclear on the boundaries you want or how to communicate them.