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Posted on Tue, Jan 17, 2012 : 5 a.m.

Daughter could use counseling to cope with controlling mom

By Dear Abby


I'm 23, the only child of a controlling, paranoid, hermit-like and hyper-religious mother and a peace-loving, passive father. I graduated from college last year. Shortly after, my boyfriend and I accepted dream jobs in the same town several hours away from my parents.

Mom was appalled. She "warned" me that I wouldn't last and would come home. Instead, I have embraced my new city and job. Mom is at her wits' end. When I mentioned that my boyfriend had recorded a movie for me, she said he was controlling me via technology. If I tell her about a project I initiated at work, she says my employer is taking advantage of me.

Mom pays for a landline in my apartment that I don't want, but she insists because she's convinced that cellphones cause cancer. She calls me constantly, and if I don't answer she leaves frantic messages about how "disrespectful" I am, and how she and Dad are "praying for my soul."

This has gotten out of control. I try talking to her, but she won't listen and laughs at the idea of counseling. She says it's her "job" to tell me what to do. My father agrees that her behavior and approach are wrong, but says she has good intentions and I need to "work with her."

Abby, I don't know what to do. She's becoming increasingly controlling and worried about my soul. I'm worried that my distance is affecting her health. Some advice, please! -- WANTS A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP WITH MOM


If you return home because you're afraid having moved away and asserting your independence is negatively affecting your mother's health, you will never have a life of your own. Because she laughs at the idea of counseling doesn't mean that you shouldn't get some in order to help you separate yourself from her constant efforts to manipulate you.

Her dependence on you is not normal. That's why you should enlist the help of a mental health professional. It will give you some insight in how to deal with her. If you try to "work with her" without that help, she will suck you in and you will never be free.


I have very nice neighbors who believe in leaving the wild and natural growth on their property. They have posted a sign that claims it to be a "certified natural habitat." They never weed or cut anything back. At first, it was cared for, but now it has become an eyesore, and people who visit our house have made comments.

I have tried to grow border plants to hide the mess, but nothing seems to help. I believe it affects the value of our home. My husband doesn't want me to say anything for fear of hurting their feelings. They're nice people, but we don't live in a rural area where this might be more acceptable. Have you any suggestions? -- THORN IN OUR SIDE


Yes. Who certified your neighbors' yard as a "natural habitat"? The city? If so, call City Hall and find out if their yard still qualifies. What you have described may be a fire hazard, so some investigation may be in order. If there is a homeowners association in your neighborhood, it should also be contacted to ensure their house is in compliance with the codes, covenants and restrictions. If necessary, someone who is close to these neighbors should volunteer to "help" them with their yard. A natural landscape can be beautiful, but only if it's properly maintained.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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