Life Advice



Daughter Seeks Support, Not Judgment, from Mother

Annie Lane on

Dear Annie: My mother, who is now 62, has always been a dominant personality, keen on having things go her way. I'm 34, an independent graphic designer, and I pride myself on being self-sufficient and creative. But every time I share aspects of my life with her -- be it career choices, romantic partners or even smaller decisions like adopting a pet -- she critiques them, often unsolicitedly, making me second-guess my decisions. Her disapproval, which is always veiled as concern, is making me not want to be around her.

I'm starting to avoid sharing any personal news with her at all to dodge the inevitable criticism. I understand she might be doing this out of love, but it feels more controlling than caring. How can I communicate my need for support without her judgment? -- Struggling for Independence

Dear Struggling for Independence: It's clear you value both your independence and your relationship with your mother. Expressing your need for support rather than criticism is not only reasonable but necessary for a healthy adult relationship.

It might be time for a gentle but firm conversation. Let her know that while you appreciate her desire to help, what you need most from her is trust in your judgment. Setting boundaries is important; you might decide to limit what personal details you share if her responses continue to be unsupportive. This isn't to create distance but to protect the relationship you cherish with her. Remember, building a relationship based on mutual respect and understanding is a two-way street, and it's OK to take the space you need to foster that.

Dear Annie: My friends and I are a group of four women who have known each other since elementary school. We reconnected at a high school reunion and became very close. We are all retired and travel, have lunch dates, and spend the nights together several times a year. There is one friend in the group who will not stop talking. She monopolizes every conversation and often tells the same story over and over again. Most of her stories are about her daughter and grandchildren. She does this in person and during telephone calls. When someone else is talking, you can glance at her and tell she is ready to jump into the conversation and say how the same thing happened to her or her daughter. It's exhausting.


Other than that, she is a wonderful person. She would give you the shirt off her back and do anything for anybody. She is funny, kind and loving, and because of this, we have silently endured. We are planning a cruise next year and no one wants to room with her. We all hate confrontation and know she will be extremely hurt if we say something. Please help. What do we do? -- Exhausted

Dear Exhausted: It sounds like your friend doesn't realize how her behavior is impacting the group. Have a private conversation with her, expressing your appreciation for her kindness and humor, but also share how the group feels overwhelmed by her dominance in conversations. A friendship that's endured as long as this one has can handle tough topics. Just remind her that you're all coming from a good place, and that, by confronting this together head-on, your friendship will hopefully only strengthen and grow.


"How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?" is out now! Annie Lane's second anthology -- featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to




Cul de Sac Darrin Bell Al Goodwyn Daddy's Home Bob Gorrell Baby Blues