Life Advice



Ask Amy: Mom’s needs must take a back seat

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

How can I make her understand that her "needing" to have weekend family gatherings isn't what's best for him, and her "needing" constant comforting isn't what my boys and I need?

– Struggling

Dear Struggling: You could assume that your mother already empirically understands that your husband’s needs must outweigh her own at this point. But if she has always been narcissistic and manipulative, your husband’s heartbreaking illness might cause her to simply up the ante, in terms of needing to catch – and keep – your attention.

You might do better if you shift your own focus away from trying to persuade her to become less selfish and more reasonable.

This is a heavy lift during a heavy time, but this might be the moment where you simply decide to let your mother have and handle her own feelings.

You’ve been concerned about her and compensating for her for a long time. You’ll have to try to switch gears.


Don’t say, “This isn’t about you, Mom,” because – for her – it will always be about her.

Find a way to say: “I hope you can figure out a way to handle your feelings. I can’t do that for you.”

Dear Amy: I recently reconnected with an old flame from nine years ago.

We talked for a few weeks, and then she asked (in her words) when I would “grace her with my presence.”


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