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How To Handle A Controlling Mother

Dear Sugar
My mom is trying to run my life. I'm nearly 21 years old, and am a Senior in college, majoring in Education. My mom however, is pushing me to go into Law or Journalism; neither of which I am very interested in.

Along with disagreeing with my career choice, she also gives me a hard time about my grades (which by the way are excellent). They never seem to satisfy her though. Instead of saying, 'good job, I'm proud of you' - she demands to know why I couldn't achieve a higher grade.

She is also pushing me to break up with my boyfriend (a smart, handsome, driven senior as well, who wants to be a politician). She thinks I am too young not to be "playing the field." Whenever I try and talk to her about this, she gets angry and tells me that she knows what's best for me.

Her attitude makes me feel like nothing I do is good enough for her, and never will be. It's starting to affect my self esteem and drive us apart. Independent Isabella

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Dear Independent Isabella,
What your mom isn't seeing, is that by telling you how much of a disappointment you are constantly, she is only going to drive you away. Eventually you are going to get so tired of hearing her unsupported opinions, that you won't tell her anything.

It sounds like that breaking point is drawing near for you. You've come to the right place. Over the years, I've learned a thing or two about coping with stubborn mothers and controlling people.

What may be hard for you to realize is that you are the only person in charge of boundaries for yourself. They can be very difficult at first to set; others who are not used to them will try to break them down, but if you stick to them - they really work. Keep repeating this sentence to your mother over and over again; "I love you Mom, but I don't want to discuss this subject with you."

I know what you are thinking, "Yeah Right!" She's not going to respect this and listen to me...but she will learn to if you stick with it, I promise. If you establish limits to certain topics and keep repeating this sentence, soon enough, she'll take a hint.

You must also understand that you can't change anyone but yourself. Learn coping mechanisms for when she starts in on you, because she's not going to change. Talk to her less often, get caller ID so you know when she's on the phone, and take deep breaths when she lays into how many mistakes you are making. You could try to write her a letter, but that can often be misconstrued as disrespectful.

Also understand that your mother does love you. She's just trying to protect you from life, but her guidance is dated and way too opinionated. Tell her "thanks for the advice," and then do what you want. You are educated, smart and ready to take life by storm.

It's time to stop listening to that guilty mom voice inside your head and to stop second guessing every decision you make. That's no way to live. You and your mom may have different dreams for your life, so you need to pursue what's best for you. All mom needs is to feel love and appreciation once in a while. So throw her a bone and call her as often as you can tolerate for help with the smaller things...like how to wash knits so they won't shrink, or for her delicious chicken cutlet recipe. She'll love you just the same.

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