Life Advice

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Health & Spirit

Mom can't stop babying 55-year-old daughter

Carolyn Hax on

Dear Carolyn:

I was laid off recently from a job of 15 years. My confidence took a blow.

When I told my mom, she said, "Hurry up and update your resume. And don't forget to add your Employee of the Year award." I had of course already done that, and asked her why she thought I would forget about the highlight of my career. She said, "Don't get so defensive, I'm just trying to help!"

It would have been more helpful for her to say she had faith in me. But her style has always been 0 percent cheerleader, 100 percent drill sergeant.

I hesitate to tell her anything. When I say I'm going to the beach, she says, "Don't forget sunscreen!" and if I say, "Mom, I'm 55 years old and you don't need to tell me that," she says, "Don't get snippy with me!" -- then when I return, she says, "Did you wear sunscreen? Oh, good GIRL!" as though I'm a little kid, or so incompetent that I need to be told what to do.

I try to explain how I feel but she starts yelling at me.

 

My confidence suffers every time I talk to her because it seems like she thinks I'm dumb or can't take care of myself. But if I object, she gets upset. What can I say to make her understand that her unsolicited advice insults my intelligence?

-- Don't Need This "Help"

"To make her understand." That is your treadmill, your hamster wheel, your Mobius strip of maternal suffocation.

Trying to change her output -- what she thinks or feels or advises -- hasn't worked in 55 years, and isn't yours to change anyway. So, change your input.

...continued

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