Saturday, September 28, 2013

"Control Freak" Mother Needs A New Hobby

Dear Tazi:

I love my Mom dearly, but she is the biggest control freak I know! I lived at home until I got engaged, and then I moved in with my fiancé (who is now my husband). Mom assumed that my years under her roof left me completely unprepared to run my own house, so she decided that she needed to teach me how to keep house. At first, I was grateful for the lessons in how to make a home run smoothly, but it has been five years and she still won’t let me run my own household!

Every time my Mom visits me, she feels the need to start rearranging my kitchen drawers “to make them more efficient”, refolding the bathroom towels “the right way”, and going through my pantry to “make sure everything is fresh and healthy”; she will throw out anything that is within six months of expiring and anything she feels is not healthy.  She is driving me NUTS!

If I tell Mom to sit down and relax, she will fidget like crazy – I can tell that she would much rather be reorganizing my laundry shelf than having tea with me. On days such as these mom does manage to control herself, but then a few days later I will come home from work to find that Mom has let herself in and has rearranged everything as she thinks it should look.

How can I get her to stop doing this? I organize my home in such a way that it works for me and my husband. It is not Mom’s way, but that doesn’t mean it is not the right way!

Strangled by Apron Strings

Dear Strangled By Apron Strings:

I think your Mom needs a hobby. You lived at home well into adulthood, and I am guessing that you were the center of your mother’s attention for most of that time. Now that you are an adult who can care for herself, your Mom has a great deal of time on her hands and nothing to do with it; consequently, she is reverting to her old habit of taking care of you.

You do not mention if your mother is married, divorced, or widowed, but I am going to guess that your father is not in the picture – otherwise, she could focus all of her attention on him.  The next time that you and your Mom decide to get together for coffee, why not do so at a local coffee shop? I often see retirees and homemakers gathered at such places for coffee and conversation; it is quite possible that she will see someone she knows and be able to renew old friendships and even if she does not, she will be away from your pantry and linen closets!

To tackle the other half of your problem – your mother’s need to take care of you – I suggest that you keep her in the loop with whatever is going on in your life, and ask her opinion on various events – in your life, your community, and in the world. Your mom needs to feel both needed and valued, and asking her opinion is the best way to accomplish both. Once you have managed to keep some space between your personal areas and your Mom, you can work from there to make sure the changes stick. Suggest a class, a weekly event, or a volunteer project that can keep your mother occupied so her idle hands will not do devilish things to your home.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with Bachelors degrees in Communications and in Gender and Women's Studies. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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