Mommie Clearest

17 Jul

Letterbalm Pushy Old LadyDear LetterBalm: My mother is the epitome of passive-aggressive mothering. She’s sweet as pie, yet she’s as determined as a freight train to get her way. The latest go-round is our family vacation next month. My husband and I and our kids are planning to combine a family vacation (seeing friends and family in our hometown) with sightseeing at several national parks. We’ll be on the go, driving hundreds of miles, and it won’t be much fun if we have Mom along because she has some mobility issues and tires easily. Besides, she’ll get pushy about what she wants along the way. She insisted she come on the trip, saying that she’ll stay with friends. I tried to tell her that this won’t work for us, but she won’t listen. I’m afraid I’m going to have to be blunt and hurt her feelings that she’s not welcome on the vacation.

–I Feel Like the Tour Guide

Not blunt, just firm. You have to be clear with your mother because she has been conditioned to expect to get her own way. After all, she’s sweet and doesn’t raise her voice, right? Indeed, this is the sort of passive-aggressive manipulative behavior that is a perfect motive for matricide. Take a deep breath and begin the ongoing process of out-maneuvering your mom. You need to state your intentions clearly and unambiguously without guilt – what you can and cannot agree to. Ms. L.B. wants you to regard this as a work-in-progress. You’ll accede to your mother’s wishes when you can, not when she wants you to. Sometimes these occasions will mesh, sometimes not. That’s life. Some rules: Don’t lose your temper or be disrespectful. Remain cheerful and don’t give in. Try this to stop her intrusion on your vacation:

Mom, you’re eager to come with us on our vacation next month. I’m afraid that won’t work. We’re combining some family visits with active days at three national parks. We’ll be on the go, and we won’t be able to accommodate your needs. You know you have mobility issues and tire easily. Doug and I would hate for you to have health problems during the trip. We can give you an air ticket to go see Aunt Carolyn and your nieces and nephews in Oregon. Would you like that? Otherwise, we must say no. We love you, Mom, but traveling with us on the vacation is out of the question.

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