General Question

Mtl_zack's avatar

How do i get my mom to let go?

Asked by Mtl_zack (6759points) September 8th, 2008

im 18. i live at home and am in cegep (pre-college) and will be going to university next year. my mom invades my privacy ALL THE TIME, coming into my room for the stupidest reasons, like opening or closing the windows, or opening the shades, or cleaning up my desk. she always commands me to go to bed and brush my teeth like a 4 year old. she doesnt let me go out certain nights, because its “family time”. SHE HAS MAJOR ISSUES LETTING GO. she even let me completely re-decorate my room, so that she’d have an excuse for me to stay. my dad is ok with me leaving, mainly because his younger years were kind of wilder.

i went to a shrink last year and i told him the situation, and he wondered why i was sitting in that room with him. he says my mom should be in therapy. so, i tell her, and i have my dad’s support on this, and before she could make an appointment, she claims that she has all these crazy appointments, but really, its just 15 minute errands and then having coffee for an hour and a half. but in reality, she wouldnt stick to the program anyways.

as i said, im going to university next fall, but im going to a local university, mainly because my dad gets a discount because hes a prof.. i told my dad that i want to move out, if not now, then next fall, and he is just going along with my mother, and refuses to talk about it until a time closer to university. the thing is, i want to move out as soon as possible.

in theory, i could move out, just leave. but when it comes down to searching for an apartment, (my first one), it’ll be tough and ill need a lot of help getting settled. if my mom were to agree to let me go, she would start helping me out, and then right in the middle of it, start a new project and say “ive got something else that i have to do. can we leave it until next year.” my dad would just be apathetic about the entire thing and follow my mom around like her pet.

so, im asking you this: how do i get my mom to start realizing that im grown up, and i can live on my own. and if thats not possible, then get the fuck out of my private space and life?

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37 Answers

Mtl_zack's avatar

oh, and by the way, heres an example: she just came into my room and told me to go to bed. its 11:45!!!!!!!!

loser's avatar

You need to get out on your own. I think it’s really the only way your Mom is going to realize that she has to let go. Maybe she knows it’s coming so she’s trying to get as much mothering in as she can!

tinyfaery's avatar

Being an adult is tough. Ideally, one’s parents would help with the transition, but this is not always the case. If you want it bad enough, and you really are “adult” enough to live on your own, then you’ll have to be adult enough to do whatever it takes. So what if it’s hard.

Maybe your mom doesn’t think you are ready to be a responsible, effective adult. She probably has insights into your behavior and knowledge about the world that you will never comprehend. Maybe you should talk about these things with your mom. Ask her why she is so apprehensive.

Bri_L's avatar

Wow. I thought my mom was bad. In the end it will happen, maybe not as fast as you would like.

Is there any chance that if you invite her to be a part of it she will be more open to it?

Mtl_zack's avatar

@bri: i dont want her to be a major part of this “new free life” because then it wont be new and free, and probably not life. i will come to friday night dinner at my grandparents house, because its a big family tradition, and i will call once in a while, but i dont want her to be a major part of this new life.

Meatwad's avatar

Sorry about your luck!

sndfreQ's avatar

Move out, and follow through with it. Otherwise as they say “put up or…”

They need to cope in a more productive way than treating you like less-than an adult; get serious about your intentions and plan a date to move soon and stck to it. If won’t be easy but a clean break may be what’s best for all, even if no one will verbalize it.

Good luck-I remember how tough it was for me at 17…

Bri_L's avatar

I was thinking more along the lines of it being an activity to get it going. she works with you to get you out. your out. your off and running.

Another option would be to literally go ahead with your plans. Try and get as many friends as you can to help. Please don’t take this as sounding paternal or asshole like but that is part of taking care of yourself. try and find a way to do that and your golden.

marinelife's avatar

Dear Mtl_Zack Repeat the following sentence over and over until it settles into your being:

“I cannot change another person’s behavior.”

Once you have realized that, you can then move on to realize that the only thing you can change is your response to the other person.

Sorry about your mom. She sounds very controlling. Also, I understand that you are young and that she has probably done a lot of stuff for you, which makes it harder to break away now.

OK, so we know your mom will fight you. Your dad is not going to support you against her. So, what support have you got?

Is your schooling paid for? Do you have the money for an apartment?

If those two things are OK, then line up what support you do have. Go out and find the apartment (or a room in a house if money is tight), Sign the agreement. Make plans to move what you are taking. Ask your friends to pitch in. Get someone who has a truck or rent one.

Once all the plans are in place, calmly at the 11th hour (half an hour before the gang arrives), tell your parents that you are moving.

Then move. If you have questions about things you don’t know how to do, (set up utilities, etc.) ask a trusted adult that will not betray your confidence to your parents or ask on here.

Think about how scenes play out around your house. Think about how you respond to your Mom. Don’t respond the same way. For example, if your Mom is having a fit about your plans, say, “I’m sorry you feel unhappy about this, Mom.” Note: not that you are doing it, but that she feels unhappy about it. Also note: not that you made her unhappy, but that she feels unhappy about it. She is responsible for her feelings, you are not.

I got tremendous support and help in communication from a book called Toxic Parents. I strongly recommend it.

Best of luck in effecting your emancipation. Why wait?

Bri_L's avatar

@Mtl_Zack – as usual Marina said what I was trying to

Yeay marina

sndfreQ's avatar

Yes and I’ll add to those very helpful suggestions that the support of others (friends, girlfriend’s family, for example), are sources for moral support you should definitely tap as you assert yourself.

augustlan's avatar

Take the plunge…you can do it!

La_chica_gomela's avatar

Zack, I have the exact same problem with my mom!!! is controlling, illogical, ridiculous, etc.

this is what i did: SOMEHOW don’t even ask me! I convinced her to pay for a University REALLLY freakin far away, like 12 hour drive. ok, actually i do know how i did that. it’s a freakin awesome school. top 20 on the princeton review, blah blah, and she wanted to brag about it to her friends i guess…anyway

i lived on campus the first couple of years, so i didn’t have to worry about finding my first place so soon. then i got kicked off campus b/c they accidentally accepted too many freshmen (lol) and i found a roommate who was older and knew the whole deal. i thought she would be like, guiding me through everything, but it turned out i was the one who found our place. it turned out to be not that hard. i rented a u-haul to move my stuff from campus. that only ended up costing like $50. anyway.

my mom has never been to my apartment here, and i like it that way a lot. here’s the thing though. even when they’re not in your physical space, they’re still invading your life, you know? my phone kept dying, and i told my mom i needed a new one. she kept acting like she was too busy to do anything about it, so i got my own plan, and she totally flipped a gasket or something. she just went offffffff. you’d think she’d be happy she doesn’t have to pay for me to talk on the phone anymore but nooooooo. she’s STILL mad, and it was like a year ago. when i talk about my money, she corrects me and says it’s her money, even when i earned it myself (scholarships, jobs, etc) don’t ask me how that works…. ANYWAY,

do you HAAAAAVE to go to this local U? i mean, is it like already paid for? it’s only september. you could apply to more than one place. what state do you live in, if you dont mind me asking? if you can avoid going to school in your town, i would really really really do that. they can’t stop you from applying, and once you have, who knows? maybe you’ll get a great scholarship or something. an offer you can’t refuse.

i would say to try to go to a school at least 3 hours away. it’s close enough that you could get home in less than a day if there was some kind of emergency, but far enough away that “dropping in” or “stopping by” is not an option.

i’m not much older than you are, but i tell you this. being 17 and 18 were the most annnoyyyying years between me and my mom. she just kept telling me what i could and couldn’t do all the frickin time, and a lot of other stuff that you mentioned. as soon as i moved out, it was kind of like, poof! my own life. it DOES exist! hey look at that!

so yeah, my advice is to get the fuck out of your parents’ house ASAP! (or when you go to college) and DON’T go to school in your town!

BUT if you do end up at the local U, at least try to move into a dorm. you miss out on SO much social life if you live off campus your first year.

let us know how it all turns out!

galileogirl's avatar

As long as you are in her house, etc…

You don’t say how you are going to pay for your own place, but it better be without her help because you can’t have your freedom as long as you are hanging on to her purse straps.

The day after my 18th birthday I got my first ‘real’ job. When I got my 1st full paycheck 3 weeks later. I moved into my 1st apartment. Since that day, I never took money from my parents. We had an excellent relationship for the rest of their lives and since I acted like an adult, they treated me like one.

FlutherMother's avatar

La_chica, you got tired of your mom interfering with your life so you moved out to get a life yet you “convinced her to pay for your education” (I am confused at your wording – you said she paid and then you said you earned scholarships so what was it?) AND you asked her to buy you a new phone (although I am proud you eventually bought your own and I feel she shouldn’t be mad, she should be happy you are learning independence). So you want your mom to fork over money and then disappear so you can live as you like????? It doesn’t work like that. Your parents aren’t dolls you take out and play with when you want and then toss them back in the corner when you get bored or tired or feel you’ve outgrown them nor are they ATM machines where you take the money and drive away without so much as a thank you. They have feelings too you know and whether or not you think they are stifling you, you need to sit back and ask yourself if you are only taking from your parents – you need to give too (of yourself that is). As a parent, it is scary to realize your child is growing into an adult and you often wonder if you instilled enough in them to occasionally come back for dinners and share their adult life. I know that part of leaving the nest is a chafing at parental rules and a strong desire to leave, which is normal, but in doing so don’t forget that most parents would let go more if you make sure to involve them by making sure that you do call or email just to give information an chat and not just to ask for something. Not every day of course and you don’t have to share every little bitty detail, but more than twice a year. And do make some family time even when you have to grit your teeth while listening to Aunt Clara talk about her surgeries.

And mtl_zack, that goes for you too. From the sound of it, I think your mom has to get a reality check. However, in looking at your paragraph, I read that you want your mom to help with setting up utilities and to move your junk out of her house and possibly even give financial help. but after that you want her to but the hell out. That sounds awfully one-sided to me. I think you need a strong dose of compromise. You need to sit down with your mom and tell her in no uncertain terms that you don’t need reminding to brush your teeth and that you feel that you are old enough to determine your bed time and that your room is your sanctuary and you would appreciate her staying out unless there is a maintenance emergency. In return, you can at least settle on one family night a week, promise to keep your activities late at night on the quiet level (no Guitar Hero II at midnight), and keep your room of decent neatness with no strange plant growths from moldy bread under the dresser! If you are continuing to live rent free in their house, that is only fair.

That being said, you can certainly move out anytime you like. It won’t be easy (apartments are expensive), but if you truly want to be independent, you will find a way to move on your time table and you will find friends who can help so that you don’t have to rely on your folks who may postpone it. AND you will need to pay for it yourself to be truly independent. Regardless, you can’t change your mom and she may drive you nuts, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give her a call to chat every so often and make time for dinner here and there – she is your mom after all and I am sure she loves you even if she still treats you like you need training wheels and a nap.

sndfreQ's avatar

Right…I have to side with FlutherMother on both those arguments…it’s kind of like, you can’t have your cake and eat it too…you can’t demand financial support from your parents if you’re not willing to put up with their stipulations and expectations.

Not that I’m trying to compare, but with similar circumstances (controlling parents who wanted me to go into either medicine or mechanical engineering as a major), I decided at 17 to put myself through college and supported myself 100 percent from the outset; it is possible-it’s hard, but possible.

The toughest part was proving to the Financial Aid office at my college that I was in fact, independent, even though students under 24 are still considered dependents (even if your parents don’t claim you on their tax returns). I remember at one point, I worked three jobs at 60 hours per week (minimum wage, which was $4.25 back then), while carrying a full load of 15 units at community college. It can be done, and given that you’re single, no kids, no real liabilities, you can live a pretty streamlined lifestyle if you stick to your principles and apply some self control over your budget and living expenses.

As for FM’s point about your adult relationship with your parents, you reap what you sow as far as relationships go with parents…if you harbor ill-will or otherwise are opportunistic about their support, that will only come back to bite you in the end; you need to get to know what it’s like to carry on an adult relationship with a parent, as you get out what you put into it.

Even though you’re their son/daughter, you are on “equal footing” as far as demanding and earning respect of your parents as adults. If you come to realize that your independence is worth the sacrifice of going it alone, you’ll get the perspicuity to see the inconsistencies in your current situation, and decide do it on your own “steam.”

You’ll also have the satisfaction of saying you earned your degree and your right to a profession of your own volition and will.

That and learn to love ramen, PB&J, hot dogs, pasta, rice, and baked potatoes (my rations for the first couple of years on my own).

JackAdams's avatar

You have a very serious problem, and “making light” of it in any way, would be insensitive and probably cruel, so I will not run my standard answer of, “Assassination is always an option,” because obviously, that doesn’t apply here.

What I will do, is I will seriously dwell on this subject, write something cohesive and intelligent (probably a “first” for me) and post it here.

In the meantime, and I am very serious about this, I will pray that your mother changes her self-destructive ways.

But before I exit this thread, for now, let me share something that appears on the surface to be humorous (and was originally intended that way) but can be spoken to your mother, with a serious tone in your voice. The original speaker, so far as I know, was actor/comedian Red Buttons.

In all seriousness, you need to look your mother directly in the eye, and say these words to her:

“Mom, you REALLY need to treat me much nicer than you have been, because it’s a fact that one day, whether you like it or not, I will be the person who will be choosing your nursing home.”

I’ll get back to you about this with more, later on, and every word I write will be of serious intent, and not my usual/typical snarking.

May Gawd bless.

susanc's avatar

I would take the opposite approach to all that these experienced and caring people have said.
Because there IS a way to change other people’s behavior. It’s called paradox.

Instead of thinking about how much your mom could help you out in your quest to prove that you don’t need her, except for her cash, reverse this. Think about how much you could help your mom, who’s obviously desperate in some way we don’t understand. Tell her and your dad that you’ve decided to stay home with them and try to become a better friend: an adult friend. Then do it. Help around the house. Invite friends over for you mom to enjoy cooking for. Make dinner for your parents and their friends in return. Integrate your life with theirs as if you were a grown person and not a snotty whiner. If you can intrude enough into the lives they don’t really want you in any more (trust me; wanting kids to leave is exactly as natural as kids wanting to leave), they’ll start thinking of ways to help you go away. And all of this can be very friendly on your part! SOOO much less stressful! But secretly you’ll be laughing, because VERY SOON you’ll be getting what you want: distance.
But paradox is the key, and you can’t let yourself slide into being a butt like you have been. You have to be really suave. ‘Kay? $300, please.

Mtl_zack's avatar

1st of all, im not depending on my parents for cash. im on the job hunt as i type (im looking at websites and contact info, and ive handed out many, many CVs), and if i go to this local university, it is significantly cheaper, because im a citizen of quebec. if i go to say, ontario, then it would cost a lot more. i would be farther from my parents, but it would be more expensive. in quebec, it would cost me $500—$800/year, but in other provinces of canada it would cost $1200—$2000/year.

@fluthermother: we’ve had numerous discussions before about privacy, and she agreed to all the terms that you mentioned, but she still breaks those agreements. ive had many fights about this, and they always say that “your room is part of my house”. my room isnt that messy, i dont wake anyone up in the middle of the night, so why should she still be barging into my room every 10 minutes?

@jackadams & susanc: good point about their lives. maybe i can use your suggestions.

to all: it would be nice to get an ally in this, so im going to explain all of this to my dad, and maybe then, i can have a true ally in the matter. i think having someone who is capable of understanding my situation, who is on the same level as my mom as an ally could really help.

ezraglenn's avatar

@mtl zack, in addition to higher tuition costs, if you went to college somewhere else you would also have to change your fluther user name.

8lightminutesaway's avatar

lol my mom was exactly the same way. still is, when i go home for a few days. what i did was, i got stiff with her. when she came in to my room, i would either ignore her (which is hard to do), or grunt at anything she said. it was terribly annoying. when she told me to go to bed, i just wouldn’t. sometimes i laughed at her. i might actually leave the house after that. sounds offensive, but there was no other way. but somehow, i got my cake and can eat it too :) they pay for college, and most of my rent, and im about 2.5 hours away, which is perfect. just break the freakin rules and see what happens.

JackAdams's avatar

I don’t have any personal experience with the problem you addressed, so I telephoned someone with whom I went to grade school (and with whom I have kept in contact, all of these years), to ask her, because I remembered witnessing several shouting matches between her and her mother.

What she told me was the fact that she and her mother couldn’t sit down and politely discuss anything at all, without the conversation degenerating into a screaming contest, which neither woman ever “won.”

But, my friend thought a long time about the problems between her and her mother, and finally, she hatched a plan, with the help of a very sympathetic, older cousin.

First, she arranged for the cousin to invite her to her place, for a kind of one week sabbatical, and the cousin agreed to that. The girl knew that her mother would have objected to an out-of-town trip, but not to go visit a female cousin who was older.

So, the girl went off to visit her cousin in a distant town, and when she arrived there, she telephoned her mother (to let her know that she had arrived safely, as she had been asked to do), and then she said the following words to her mother, during that phone conversation:

“Mom, I need you to please do something for me, and it’s really important, so please do it, OK?

“Inside, on the right-hand corner of your top dresser drawer, is a note from me to you, and I need you to read every word of it, then please do what I have asked of you, in it. Talk to you at the end of the week Mom. Love you! Bye!”

The girl then hung up and, as she tells the story, her mother immediately went to the dresser drawer, found the 20-page letter (that her daughter had written to her, over a period of several weeks) and sat down to read every word of it, pausing occasionally to wipe tears from her eyes.

The daughter’s letter had begun, “Mom, because we can’t talk to each other without screaming, I thought this would be the best way to tell you what is on my mind, because this will be the only instance where it will be impossible for you to interrupt me.”

The letter outlined what the daughter’s view of the relationship was, and what the daughter suggested be done, to preserve the relationship. She ended the letter with these words:

“The way you act towards me is driving me away from you, to the point where my love for you will have reached its limit, and when I leave, it will be forever, and all of the tears and promises and screams of ‘I’m sorry!’ will not bring me back into your arms, nor into you heart. So, if you wish to permanently drive me away from you and alienate me forever more, then just continue the way you are going, and I guarantee that you will succeed.”

The mother, after reading her daughter’s words, tried repeatedly to telephone her daughter, but the daughter’s cousin answered every call with a terse, “She will speak to you, when and if she returns, and in the meantime, she is enjoying this time away from you. And don’t come up here, knocking on my door, because she’s staying with a girlfriend of mine, whom you don’t know, and will never find.” She then hung up the phone.

The ending to this story, is that the mother immediately tried very hard to change her ways and mend fences with her daughter, and even though they still had some problems with their relationship, every future conversation was conducted without screaming.

Perhaps a letter to your own mom, while you are away for a few days (someplace) might work?

Just an idea to consider…

My best wishes to you.

Bri_L's avatar

@Mtl Zak – I just wanted my most recent input to be – GO GET ‘EM TIGER!!!!!

La_chica_gomela's avatar

Fluthermother, my education costs more than $30,000 a year. It turns out that $20,000 in scholarships still leaves a lot more than I could pay by myself. She pays the rest. I don’t think it’s that confusing to earn multiple scholarships, and for them not to cover the entire cost of tuition. I also earn a stipend, which is paid directly to me, instead of to the school, as my scholarships are. I was actually refering to my stipend, (which is a type of scholarship if you still can’t understand my fancy words).

Also, I don’t appreciate you twisting my words. I said I was tired of her “controlling me” and “telling me what to do”.

Then YOU SAID, “So you want your mom to fork over money and then disappear so you can live as you like?????”

I said I wanted her to stop controlling me. There’s a difference.

She had BEEN paying for my phone service, and she wanted to keep paying for my phone SERVICE without me actually having a phone. That’s dumb.

Fluthermother, you don’t understand my or Zach’s situation at all. How dare you criticize us for not spending time with our parents or saying we see them twice a year or something. Telling us we can’t “take them out and play with them like dolls”. You don’t know anything about me or my parents.

How do you come off telling me to call my mother more?
Did I say how often I call my mother? I call my mother every fucking day!! Do I always feel like talking to her? NO!! But do I call her? YES! Why do you think I need a damn phone?

SO STEP OFF! Go berate someone else for being a bad daughter. I don’t need your bullshit.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

Edit: In the first paragraph, that should read, “as the rest of my scholarships are

Bri_L's avatar

La chica gomela -

“She pays the rest” your mom pays some of your school? I am sorry I am not following.

“i told my mom i needed a new one. she kept acting like she was too busy to do anything about it, so i got my own plan, and she totally flipped a gasket or something. she just went offffffff. you’d think she’d be happy she doesn’t have to pay for me to talk on the phone anymore but nooooooo. she’s STILL mad, and it was like a year ago. when i talk about my money, she corrects me and says it’s her money, even when i earned it myself (scholarships, jobs, etc) don’t ask me how that works”

You ended up getting your own phone and plan and she doesn’t pay for any of your school? I am just trying to keep up.

Sorry for the confusion.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

I got my own phone and my own plan, and I pay for all that myself.

She does pay for part of my tuition.

Bri_L's avatar

Ok, got it. Thanks I was confused. That is some nice work securing those finances and taking matters into your own hands. Good examples for our questioner not only on options but on how to handle things once your moved out.

I do have to say though, and this may be the parent in me or the 39 year old fat guy in me, the way you stated your argument to Fluthermother did not help your cause. You have some good points that got lost in your choice of words. I am sorry if that upsets you to hear. Just my opinion.

Good call on the college and moving advice though.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

You’re probably right, but at this point I couldn’t care less. I’m dead tire, I’m having a crappy day, and I’m being honest.

Bri_L's avatar

I just saw your other question. We all have bad days.

You hang in there La Chica.

galileogirl's avatar

The Golden Rule-She who provides the gold, rules.

Mtl_zack's avatar

update: i spoke with my dad, who will be an ally, with restrictions. he talked to my mom, and the room situation has gotten better over the last 2 days. lets hope this keeps up. about out-of-province university, he said that all three of us would have to sit down and talk in the near future, but it’s a possibility. regarding moving out, we will only discuss it in december, which gives me time to prove that im mature enough. im not gonna try any tricks, because what ive got going so far (its only been 2 days) is good.

so to sum up, i need to act better in the next few months, and everything will be a-ok :D

thanks for the support!!

La_chica_gomela's avatar

aw, i’m so glad! good luck, zack!

Bri_L's avatar

Fricken yes!

Way to go zack!

Awesome! Very Very happy for you Bud!!

Good luck.

Vent here if you need!

augustlan's avatar

Yay Zack!

JackAdams's avatar

Zack, just keep in mind that a person of 18+ is legally an adult, and s/he can do whatever the Hell s/he wants to do (including the choice of schools, etc.) and if the folks have a “problem” with that, tough toenails.

marinelife's avatar

Excellent progress, Zack!

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