Checking in with Your Mom as an Adult

Updated on April 18, 2013
A.L. asks from Charleston, SC
43 answers

My mother and I have a great relationship the majority of the time. However, she was, and still is an overprotective mother. She demands that I call her to "check in" whenever I go out of town or leave her house to drive home (30 minutes), etc... She even demanded that I call her on my honeymoon. Well I've had it. I'm 43, married with two kids. I don't feel like I should have to check in with my "mommy" anymore. I understand that she is just concerned for my and my family's well being, but it makes me feel like that untrustworthy teenage girl whose mommy has to keep tabs on. (which by the way, I was the child who always was home on time and never got into any kind of trouble in high school or after!)

When I do call, she wants to have a conversation, wants all the details, wants to know how my kids did on the trip, etc... It is not a quick, "I'm here bye" type of conversation. When I'm distant and don't say much, she gets pissed and then says something to the effect of, "well you're in a bad mood goodbye" then slams the phone up. This then ruins my mood and part of my trip or day. UGH! I cannot text her, as she refuses to text and doesn't have a text plan.

I understand as a mom that you will always worry about your children and their well being, even as adults. But it's time to cut the strings of control in my opinion. I feel like all my adulthood is spent trying to please her by notifying her of my every move. I have sworn that as hard as it may be in the future not to do this to my own kids, I will absolutely NOT do this to them because of how it makes me feel. I don't want them to feel this way.

How would you handle this? Don't tell me to let it go. I've tried doing that since I officially moved out of her house at age 21 and it hasn't worked and I'm resentful and mad and about to explode on her.

***Yes she does call me if I don't call or forget to call and then is pissy with me from the get go. It's beyond ridiculous.

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all the input. I appreciate your comments and suggestions.

My mom doesn't text, and will never text, so that option is out. I've decided to call her with a quick, "we're here/home" and hang up. She does not need details in that moment. If she gets mad, that's on her.

As for appreciating my mother, I do. However, appreciation for a relationship should not lead to control. The problem with our relationship is based on her treating me as her 15 year old when I'm 43. It cannot go on like this anymore. She tells me how to parent without me asking, tells me my decisions are not what "she would do" all the time. I am not her, but that doesn't mean we cannot get along, and I value and appreciate our relationship. I just have to set boundaries. and stop over-sharing. She is a big part of our lives, but when we do or say something to offend her, we get the silent treatment. It's ridiculous, and I'm over it. I cannot live under her thumb or under her control anymore. It's not healthy for me or my kids. I don't want them to grow up resenting me because they think I still control them and their lives. This is how my mom makes me feel with this "checking in".

Thanks for being supportive and offering suggestions. They've really helped me decide how to handle this without hopefully causing too much drama.

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answers from San Francisco on

Ok, I am going to take this from a different angle. Yes, you are a grown up and yes this is annoying and I have a similar situation. I do get a bit bugged, but then I think about when I am older and hope my girls will cut me some slack. I have many friends who have lost one or both parents and would give anything to get that "annoying phone call", so I grin and bare it. I know that I won't have her forever and as imperfect as she is, I am lucky to still have her. Just a thought. ( :

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Miami on

I have to tell you, she's not worried about you at all. She just has nothing else to do. You are her daughter, but she is using that as an excuse to demand that you are her mandatory friend who she can demand an audience with.

You've spent an awful LONG time being angry since age 21. I think that if you alter your understanding of why she is doing this (nothing to do with worrying about you), that you can let go of your anger and just tell her, face-to-face, each time you are walking out the door from visiting, that you will call her when you get home and ONLY say "I'm home" and then you are hanging up the phone. You are tired of the third degree from her after a visit, and you aren't going to do it anymore. If she gets pissy with you, ignore her.

Don't let her ruin your mood OR your trip. Hang up the phone and go about your business. Part of her hold over you is the fact that you LET her make you feel this way. You are an adult. You don't HAVE to let her get to you anymore. You don't have to "keep the peace". You get to have your say. Do it and then walk away. For heaven's sake, you've been visiting with her - enough is enough. THIS is what you tell her. And then be done with it.

Sending you strength - you can do this.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I usually call or ask my mom to call if the weather is bad, if the trip was long (we live 2 hours away) or that sort of thing. I don't check in when we get to our vacation home, but I might call when we get back. I guess I only check in when it involves her in some way (like a visit to her home).

If it suits you better, you can say, when she makes the initial request, "I'll call, but I'm not going to have time to chat. It bothers me that when I call, you often end up slamming down the phone instead of appreciating that I called at all. If you would prefer, I'll send you an email or call you when I have more time." Or "No, I'm not in a bad mood, but I'm a busy mom who just arrived home with her children and don't have time for a long chat."

You need to figure out new boundaries with your mom and enforce them, even if she gets mad and slams down the phone (totally rude). I wouldn't call her every time you left the house and if she gets angry about it, flat out tell her you're a capable, married woman in her 40s. She needs to have a little faith in you.

I think that it's not about "you" per se, but her own need to worry, control, cajole. Are you her only child? Either way, I think if you held firm and said, "Mom, it's only half an hour. I'll call when I have time to chat" and then only call when you have time, she'll back off. She won't like it, but it's your boundary. This is a case for caller ID. If she asks why you didn't call her back/pick up the phone you can remind her, "I told you I'd call you when I had the time."

ETA: When I am old, I hope I remember that I raised my kids and they can drive 30 minutes without checking in and that I can also say, "Hey, I miss you and would like to chat. When would be a good time to call?" vs being an annoying nag. You miss people when they are gone, sure, but that doesn't mean you have to be nagged and harassed and yelled at til they go. I also had another thought - maybe your mom needs a hobby so she's less focused on you and yours and more focused on other people. Maybe if she had friends to hang out with, you wouldn't be the only person she felt she could talk to?

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

A few years ago, i finally just said to my mom, I'll call you when I have a chance. It might take a day or more after we get there.

I use to immediately call her when we'd get to my in-laws---in Ireland, but it was a pain to get a phone card, etc. and like you, I was done "checking in."

So next time, tell her ahead of time that you'll call when you get a chance but that it might not be immediately.......after leaving her house, tell her, I won't be calling when we get home because I'm wreck tired and will be going straight to bed. I'll call you n the morning....

So basically gradually wean her off of the "check ins."

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answers from Chicago on

Sounds like my mother.
And in 36 years, I've not been able to change HER.

But, what I can change, is my reaction to her. Which means that I make the rules, and if she's mad and doesn't like be it.
I text, instead of call, first and foremost. Eliminates the conversation aspect. If she keeps texting, you can choose not to respond, and claim you got busy, etc...

But you have to set the precedent here. And she may not like it. But she'll have to get over it. You just have to make sure that you do it calmly and not in anger. Next time she asks you to call, tell her you send a text. If she asks for a call instead, insist on a text saying you have things to take care of. If she gets mad, she gets mad. But then you have to follow through.

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answers from Seattle on

Ha! That IS my mum!

She gets her boundaries confused.

I share with her because she's a friend, NOT because she's entitled to that information. When she starts getting demanding, I occasionally have to actually whip out that line.


Mum! You can either know the moment we're back, or you can have all the details when we have lunch on Thursday. Your choice. Because you're not going to get all the details "the moment I walk in the door".

((The quotes are a pet irritation of hers, being swarmed by kids the moment she got home, demanding 'Whats for dinner/ Susie took my/ Will you sign this/ I need a lion costume before school starts tomorrow/ Bobby pinched me/ Dad says..." ROFL. Its a highly effective means of communication, making her relate by shared exasperation without actually telling her she's being like 600 kids (agitated kids duplicate) mobbing you at the front door.))

Shhhhhh..... Its. Really. Like. Dealing. With. A. Toddler.

- I give her simple choices (that I can live with)
- I warn her ahead of time
- I remind her at least 3 times
- I randomly tell her I love her
- I randomly tell her things I love about her
- I praise good behavior
- I make sure not to expect a lot before mealtimes & bed

She's one of my best friends.
I love her dearly
Nothing helped our relationship so much as dealing with a toddler of my own. (I got in kid-mode one day on accident, and it was like night & day)
My mum is a BRILLIANT, mature, kind, & living ADULT. But the "mom" part of her (so probably me, too) is very toddler-esque. I get my FRIEND, by also toddler-oozing the irrational mom stuff.

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answers from Dallas on

You can only control you, stop feeding it by calling at her demand, when she calls you, don't answer if you don't want to. She'll get it or she won't, but you can change your role in this - good luck and build some healthy boundaries!

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answers from Columbia on

Okay, I'm sorry, but the behavior you describe isn't normal, concerned mother at all. It's narcissistic. When you don't talk to her in the way she expects you to, she punishes you. Not okay.

I do think that it's okay, and completely kind and thoughtful to send a quick text when you get home to say "I made it home safe. Thanks for a wonderful time, mom!"

But she is being controlling and forcing you to do things that you would not otherwise do if you weren't worried about her emotional response.

I think it's perfectly healthy to set boundaries. And you should. Ask yourself: What would a daughter do in a healthy relationship? And then do that.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I had this with my mom. I told her not to worry if anything happened to me the police would call, so if she doesn't hear from me, I'm okay. It was harsh, and she was mad, but she did get over it. I'm assuming if you don't call in, she will start calling you. Let her know that you will not answer and then not answer. I know it will bother you to keep hearing the phone ring, but after a few times, hopefully she'll get the message. Or, if you do answer, say, I'm okay mom, got to go bye. Don't give her the opportunity. Your in control and she can't ruin your day.

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answers from Detroit on

Call her to check in, but just let her know you don't have time to talk about anything else, you are busy, and you are just letting her know you are fine and everything is okay. "I'll talk to you later, ok? Love ya, bye!" If she persists, say, "I know you want to talk more right now, but I really can't...I will talk to you later." Lather, rinse, repeat.

If she gets pissy and slams the phone down herself, then don't call her yourself for a while. It's her making the choice to act that way, not you. Let her decide to call you and when she asks why you haven't called, let her know that she sounded upset last time and you figured maybe she needed some space. If she is pissy from the get-go, tell her that you don't want to talk to her if this is how she is going to be, then say good-bye and hang up.

I have reached a point in my life where I refuse to argue with people that want to argue with me. Some people just want an argument and I find myself arguing back trying to prove my point, show them I am the one who is right, and I've realized that it's just not worth it. If you feel like you can't win, don't even try. If she starts in, let her know you are not going to argue with her and if she can't be pleasant, the conversation is over. If she gets upset about that, tell her, "Well, I am sorry you feel that way - I still love you and I will talk to you later when you are in a better mood." Then leave it alone. She wants to act like a toddler, treat her like one. Don't give in to her tantrums and behavior.

You won't be able to change her, but you can change how you respond, putting up some boundaries and not letting it get to you. It's about control with her - controlling your actions and your feelings. Don't play her game. Tell her she needs to find some other hobbies instead.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I still let my parents know when we arrive home safely from a trip or something like that bc I know they feel better but they in no way expect a long conversation unless I feel like it. That's where the line is IMO. Tell her you will call or text if she has a cell but you have too much to do to talk on the phone long. Then it's her problem how she handles it. And tell her that. Say "I check in way more than the average adult so you can choose to be happy about that or choose to be mad the times I can't talk for long. It's up to you. I'm confident I'm being fair. You're an adult while I have 2 little children and my hands full."

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answers from San Francisco on

WOW. I applaud you for putting up with this behavior for sooooooo long. Give yourself permission to stop it---even if she is mad or hurt or pulls all the pity pot stuff out on you. SHE WILL. But, stay strong and say no.Sit down with her over a cup of tea and tell her how much she means to you. Tell her you have raised a smart, independent, confident woman. It's time to let go now and see that you are completely able to take care of yourself and your family. The check-ins have to stop.Tell her how she's made you feel the last 43 years of check-ins. You are more than willing to call when its a good time after you get back or if its convienent there. But....she is holding on for too long.

You have to let things fall where they may. Dont try to fix her feelings about it---let her be mad or however. When she is calm again, tell her how this made you feel. GL

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answers from Washington DC on

go to the '2 rings repeated twice' code.
i'm not a phone talker. this would make me nut up.
it would sure help if she'd just let you text! this is precisely the sort of thing for which texting is brilliant.

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answers from San Francisco on

Wow.....this hits home cuz I have seen the behavior and what it can do...

I am gonna give you a little of my history then give you some insight of what I would do if in your shoes...although we wear very different shoes.

My own mother had a mother like yours. Guess what has happened to me? My own mother NEVER calls. Recently, I called her before I went on a trip to the Bahamas and sent her a postcard. I came back from my trip and didn't hear from her at all. I called 2 weeks after the trip. She didn't ask about the trip. I asked if she got my postcard?? She said "No, oh did mention you were going somewhere.I haven't gone to the mailbox in awhile" She hadn't even gone to the freakin 2.5 weeks. I was very sad. It is very hard to have a relationship with her because all 4 of us kids have to put in ALL the effort to call, put on the holidays, get together for lunch etc.

She has totally withdrawn from initiating a relationship with all 4 kids' lives because she was an only child whose mother hovered and guilted her...and I am sure she has other issues but she doesn't talk about it. She also lives alone. My dad walked out on her years ago...I am sure she is full of emotional problems. But she won't talk to us or a therapist...and has no friends. It is sad.

Soooo, I am not in the same boat as you. I wish we could take our moms...put them together and get a happy medium.

I have put my feelings out there with my mom to tell her I would love to have her call, I would love for her to plan a holiday, I would love for her to set up a lunch or movie date. It falls on deaf ears. Sooo, in the end I just have to put aside my hurt feelings and move on. I reach out every couple of weeks just to check in.

I think if I were in your shoes I would start off and not call right when I got home...maybe the next day to slowly wean her. If she calls you that same night then pick up and say "Oh..ya we are home. We had a nice time..I need to go and get kids to you mom and then quickly get off." If she gets upset then let her..that is her problem. I know she will get upset because you are not going to play her game anymore.

Come up with a game plan...have a few little quips to nicely say to her so she will get the hint you are not going to fall into her guilt trip trap anymore. Send her an email about an upcoming out of town trip...don't make it a big deal like you are checking in. Just stop playing her control game. I don't think she realizes she is doing it...I think it just feels safe to her. But it is not healthy for her....or you.

You have to get to a place where you don't care soooo much about it anymore and choose to want a healthy relationship over this one. When you choose not to care about the backlash then you will stand up for yourself and feel so much lighter and happier...less resentment..less feeling like a ticking time bomb ready to explode on her.

I would start pointing out her ridiculous behavior to her. When she gets pissy then point it out to her and tell her how it makes you feel instead of tip toeing. "Mom..I am 43 years old with alot on my plate. My first thought is not to call you. I have a husband and kids that need my attention. When I have some time I will call you so we can talk longer but I need to you. Bye" Saying lovingly and sweet.

I hope you get the help you need from this post....I am sure there are lots of mommas in your boat. I often wonder why people act like this..or like my mom who totally escapes. I think the common thread here is anxiety and it plays out in different ways.

Good luck and best wishes!!

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answers from Dallas on

You need to put some boundaries on your mom. You are an adult. Your mother is being unreasonable. My daughter lives in another state. We talk or text frequently but not in an intrusive way. I do have concerns when she is making road trips by herself so she will check in via phone or text to let me know she has arrived safely or returned home safely. Since no one is home waiting for her (who would raise a flag if she didn't make it home and start looking for her) i am glad to hear from her.
What about if you had one of your kids call her and say, Grandma, we made it back home and we had fun. Mom is busy unpacking the car- she will call you tomorrow.
I didn't think I would like texting, but i love it. I can leave messages for people and they can respond when it is convenient for them. Maybe it is time for her to explore newer technology.

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answers from Houston on

ETA: It's interesting to me that so many people say don't talk to her. I guess it's the difference in our relationships. I talk to my mother at least once every day, whether on the phone or email. Some communications are quick, and some are more lengthy. My husband and I don't spend so much time out of town since our 2yo was born, but I would always let her know where we were going and call upon arrival. I typically won't talk to her for the rest of the trip. She does the same for me--share flight schedules, housing accommodations information. Then, we move on. We're not codependent, and we don't see it as a burden. We simply care about each other and respect each other's need/desire to be in the loop. We don't go to bed at night connected by telephone. We act very independently of each other; each of us is just a regular player in the other's life.
I believe that there is a compromise. Call and tell her that you've made it in, and then say, "'Bye!" Whenever I call anybody with one thing in mind and don't want to talk any further, I say something like, "Okay, well, that's all I wanted. I'll talk to you later!" If your mother tries to insist on details, say something like, "Mother, everybody's fine. The trip was uneventful. Now, I need to get everybody in--good night." Don't sound exasperated. Sound deliberate and firm. When she presses, say, "Good-bye, Mother." So what if she gets "pissy" for a moment? She'll likely even try to drag it out so you will feel bad and revert to the old way of doing things. Let that be her issue.

I live about 20 minutes from my mother. She makes the same request of me when I leave late in the evening, especially if I have her grandchild with me. If I forget to call, she'll call me or my husband to confirm that I've made it, and that's the end. I don't think that her request is unreasonable, but it doesn't have to turn into more than that if you don't want it to. My mother also calls me when she gets home, if I've had reason to make such a request. It's always about a need that the requestor has. It can surely be annoying, but her request has nothing to do with you and everything to do with how she processes.

I wonder if you're so upset by it because you just haven't ever felt that you've broken free of Mommy. Otherwise, I don't think that this would be a big deal. It doesn't make you a kid, but you feel like it because you're in a space where you are questioning whether or not you are just a big kid. My father was dead for a few years when I got married. My mother was venturing out and doing certain things on her own. She would get so annoyed with me when I wanted her to call when she made it home to her big house in the country where she lived all alone. Even when she went on road trips and we wanted her to check in periodically, she felt like we were babying her. She finally told me that she was fighting an inner battle for her feeling of autonomy and that my requests were interfering with that. I stepped back, told her that I ddin't need her to give me every detail, but I did want to hear from her at certain intervals. She honored that request, and I allowed her space, and she's since come back around. She just needed to prove something to herself. Could you possibly have a similar conversation with your mother and make a compromise?

I think that there should be a way for you to help to meet that need for her without giving up too much of yourself. Just be sure to tell her if something does happen on the trip, like someone enjoyed a light show or a particular song. Tell her when there's something that she might enjoy knowing; at other times, be sure to mention before you hang up that nothing happened, so she can come to trust that you are willing to share even some of the minor details that are important to her. It's not about checking in. She just wants to be included.

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answers from Washington DC on

"it's beyond ridiculous"

Yes, yes it is.

What advice do you want? You're 43, and you have wanted it to stop for over 20 years.

Only you can stop it. Only you can have a calm discussion - adult to adult and let her know that you're too busy to always answer her calls. Only you can put your foot down.

But I suspect that's the problem. You haven't. So just like a spoiled child, your mother keeps pushing because you give in. You always give in. So I do feel for your situation. Overbearing relatives are indeed a pain!

But it takes two to play. And yes, even after 22 years you can stop.

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answers from Portland on

I'm a mom to an adult daughter. When I'm doing/saying something that my daughter doesn't like, she respectfully asks me to stop doing it. If it is something that is important to me, we have a discussion about it during which both of us talk about how we feel and decide together on a compromise. Sometimes this process takes a couple of weeks. Sometimes we resolve it in one sitting.

Try talking with your mother. Think ahead of time what might work for you. Be ready to offer suggestions on how to compromise. Start out with a general comment about how you're feeling. Be sure to use I statements. Be willing to not reach a compromise during this first conversation. Be kind and be patient.

As to your feelings, you are in charge of how you feel. It's time for you to stop trying to please her. I suggest that it's your need to please her that's causing your feeling that she's controlling you. How you feel is not her responsibility anymore than her feelings are your responsibility. You are codependent. You are dependent on her for how you feel.

So, you decide what you want (that's a boundary) and follow thru to make it happen. Yes, be considerate of her feelings. That's where a compromise comes in. I suggest that you haven't been clear with her about what you need. You've created this situation and you have the power to change it.

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answers from Columbus on

My parents always wanted us kids to call, I never had a problem with it. In fact, the older we got, it was actually my Daddy that was a little like your mom, but definitely not to that extreme. We had an understanding that I would call when we got home from a trip, etc., when I had the time - and if things were a little crazy, I just simply told him and we would catch up with all the details at a later date. Never had a problem!

You need to have an in-person discussion with your mom and explain how you feel and set the rules! If you don't, it's just going to get worse instead of better! I hope you can fix this!!

Oh, and by the way... my Daddy has been gone almost three years now (my Mom, almost four) and I would give ANYTHING to have those "check-in" calls still coming!!!

Good luck!!

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answers from Kalamazoo on

My MIL is like this. Sometimes my dh turns his phone off when he cant take it anymore. Then she will call my phone, which I ignore and send to voicemail. You can set boundaries with people like that, but they will never respect them. If you need a break, just turn off your phone, or dont anwser her calls for a while. She may be mad, but it sounds like she was getting mad anyway at you for no reason.

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answers from Norfolk on

I call my Mom (or she calls me) once every week or two.
We live several states apart and it's a 13 hr drive to get to her house.
I do let her know when I get home after visiting her (I do it in 2 days - I can't take driving 13 hr's straight through anymore).
My Mom doesn't have a cell phone (or even an answering machine) or have a computer or an internet connection.
She's 77 and wants no part of it.

I'd say you need to establish a good boundary.
Tell her you are busy (with your life) right now and you'll try to catch up with her about once a week or once every few weeks.
Keep the conversations light when you have them.
Don't tell her any of your future plans (for trips or vacations - unless you are visiting her).
Only tell her after the fact.

You DO need to be less concerned with upsetting her.
So she gets upset - so what?
She can be as pissed as she wants and for as long as she wants.
You've spent all this time building up a lot of anger - so now it's her turn.
You talk to her on YOUR schedule - and don't answer her calls in between times.
At 43 - you certainly don't answer to her anymore and it's not your job to please her.
Take this relationship by the horns and gain control of it.
You'll feel a whole lot better.

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answers from Boston on

I totally agree with the posters who suggest you establish some healthy boundaries. One way to do this might be a voice mail option. My cell phone voicemail allows me to send a voice mail to another number & this helps with my dad, who is very similar to your mom! I go into my voicemail, select the option to send a message & then leave a voice mail for his number. He gets a message letting him know I'm fine, I get the sanity of not having to speak with him at that exact moment -- and then I follow up at another time with the details-filled conversation. It's helped to wean him a little!

Good luck...

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answers from Washington DC on

I always "check-in" with my parents. I know they worry and it's easy enough on my part. But it's always been a quick "we're here" text or short phone call. I don't let it turn into long conversation.

I think you need to have a chat with her about expectations and tell her you have no problem respecting her and letting her know you all are safe, but you don't normally have the time for a long conversation at that point. Just communicate with her, like she's asking from you, and things will work out.

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answers from Houston on

Is your dad still around? Call him instead.

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answers from Boston on

You can't change her. She has this type of personality (which is a lot more about control than about pure concern). You tried to stop it at 21, and now at 43 it's still going on. So whatever you've been doing hasn't worked. The definition of insanity is continuing to do things the same way while expecting different results.

If she doesn't get her way and decides to be all pissy with you, that's HER choice. If she has no activities, no friends, no interests beyond you and your daily activities, that's HER choice. You have enabled her for years and it's going to be harder and harder to break this if you continue. When she is really old and infirm, it's going to be horrible for you.

I would write her a letter and lay out your reasons, and tell her what this does to you. Tell her it makes you RESENT her and want to AVOID her; it doesn't make you feel loved or cared for or concerned about. Tell her it's the exact opposite of how you are raising your kids, that you have sworn you won't do this to your kids. Meantime, your children see you as being walked on by someone else. Do you want them to grow up resenting their grandmother, and having a role model mother as someone with no self-respect or backbone? Tell your mom this.

Tell her (and do this...) that you have an "in case of emergency" card in your wallet and a listing in your cell phone, with her name as your mother. If anything happens on the road or on vacation (Good Lord, on your honeymoon???), emergency services will look for that info and call her. Perhaps the only exception is if you leave in bad weather.

I have always let my family know when I am out of town - we all do it. We send flight info, dates, and hotel info by snail mail or email. If your mom wants to call the airlines to see if your flight arrived safely, let her. Does she have email? If so, send her a quick "home safe" message and DO NOT REPLY if she responds by email. If she calls your house, do not answer the phone if you know it's her attempt to engage you in details. You have to put the kids to bed, start the post-vacation laundry, whatever. Let her know that this is what you do every time you come home from a visit, and you have no time to discuss what the kids did in the car to pass the time. The older your kids get, the more of this they will see and incorporate into their own lives, either by repeating the behavior or by getting walked on by someone else because they've seen you do it and think it's normal to be miserable and manipulated.

You really have to do tough love on this one. She's not actually making you feel bad. YOU are letting YOURSELF feel bad because you cannot control her, and you (so far) cannot control your reaction to her.

One other thing you can do is to consider some short-term counseling to sort out your feelings about your mother, your resentment, your feelings of not being in control of your own life, etc. Together, you and a counselor experienced in this area can develop some strategies to change this destructive pattern.

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answers from Atlanta on

I think your mother just loves you and wants to be in your life. It sounds like you don't necessarily care if she's involved or not....only how it impacts your life. There comes a time when you need to understand and appreciate other people's feelings, especially your mother. There are so many people out there that have lost their mothers and don't have the love, or even the nagging (LOL) that only mothers can provide.
I hope it's not too late for you before you learn to appreciate her. And, I hope that your kids don't pick up on you treat her, thinking that will be how they treat you. It will break your heart.

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answers from Seattle on

I would immediately instigate the famous "No News Is Good News" policy.

Say very sweetly and kindly, Dear Mom, I know it means a lot to you that we call and let you know we have safely arrived home. I get it. I'm a mom now too ;) But there are times I just can't get to the phone immediately, for a variety of reasons: kids need a bath, book, homework check, have to run to the washroom immediately, etc...(throw in what is real for you). So, I'm telling you I'm not going to be able to call you each and every time we've been out and about. I am however willing to call and ring twice (once if she's parked by the phone waiting for you), or a day or so later. This amount of time spent on the phone is taxing on me."

Fast forward, let's say you try the 2 ring policy but she's parked by the phone waiting, then you have to start practicing a response there too. Like, "Mom, gotta go....grandkid # has a lot of homework, or needs a bath after a spill in the car..(be believable). I love you and thanks for having us and we had a wonderful time. Let's chat later. Bye-bye" and then you hang up first. Don't wait for her to respond. And speak a little louder during that kind of exchange.


And, once is probably not enough with a slightly overbearing, too much into your business sort of mom, you might have to repeat this exercise a a few times.

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answers from Spartanburg on

Wow, sounds like we have the same mom! I think you have to understand that this isn't about being worried, it's about keeping control over you. Yes, she probably does worry, but the reason she demands a phone call is because she wants to hear from you and that's it, and this provides her a convenient excuse that you can't argue with. If it was really just that she was worried then she WOULD be good with a quick "we made it, bye."

My mom would have fits if I didn't call her when we went to visit my in-laws. Walking in the door after a 12-hour drive, then ignoring our hosts so that I could shoot the breeze with my mom was VERY rude. And she would prattle on and on about her day, what dumb thing her boss said, what she's going to make for dinner, etc, while my husband unloaded the car by himself and my MIL made us dinner. But if I didn't do it, boy I'd hear about it. I finally told her point blank that I would not be doing it anymore. Period. If I leave her house and drive 8 hours home, I will call her to tell her I made it. But I don't call her for any other travel, sorry, it's just ridiculous. When you get home after a trip, there is so much to do, and the kids are usually wild. It's not a good time to rehash what the kids had for dinner in the car and how they occupied their time and how was traffic and did you get any rain?

You're not wrong, and honey, if your mom is like mine (and it sounds like she is) then maybe we can go halfsies on some therapy!

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answers from Dallas on

I would start by reminding her you are 43 years old, married and have two children. If you did not arrive safely your husband would be notified, so she can let go of that responsibility. Then sweetly tell her you are not going to check in anymore. Tell her how it stresses you out and you aren't going to do it.

However, if she wants to check on you, why not? She is just anxious and wants to know you are okay, but that is her problem. You should not have to be responsible. If she is mad...... she will get over it I guess.

By the way...... when I travel I still let my mom know I arrived safely, but I text her. it takes all of 10 seconds.

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answers from Tampa on

I can totally relate to this one. My MIL is like this and is completely stifling. This woman would wait up for us like we were teenagers when we would be out with DH's cousins when we would visit. At the time, we were in our mid 20's and married. Never mind that any other time, we would be successfully able to make it back and forth to work and any other place we wanted to go without her assistance.

She is the type of person that wants us to call the moment we walk in the door. For instance, we went to Hawaii once. Because of the flight schedules and time change, we were essentially on a plane ALL night long. There were already messages on our home answering machine insisting that we call the moment we got home. I didn't mind calling later that day after we were able to sleep a bit, but damn, we were tired as hell.

She now lives 2 hours from us. A few years ago when my daughter was potty training, she got REALLY bad with this. We had two kids so a 2-hour drive turned into much longer. My daughter figured out that all she had to do to stop and get out of her carseat was to say that she had to go potty...whether she did or not. Literally we would have to stop several times during that 2-hour drive. We started getting text messages from her before we even had a chance to make it home. It irritated me to no end.

One night we were eating with them at a restaurant and my daughter asked to go potty at least 3 times during the meal. I smiled sweetly and let my MIL that this is what DD did every time we drove from their house. I made it clear that it irritated me and she backed off a bit from it.

Just tell her that you will call when you are able. If you are like me, you have a million things that have to be done when you walk in the door. We have to unload the car, the dogs need to be fed and walked, the kids need baths and bedtime etc... It is unreasonable for her to expect you to cater to her whims. She needs to respect the fact that you have your own family and responsibilities.

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answers from Chicago on

My MIL does this to us, and she lives 1500 miles away from us! I just ignore the calls, which, yes, is a passive aggressive way of dealing with it, but I have told her many times that we are too busy taking care of our kids to remember to stop everything and call them when we get home. And, yes, she also wants an entire conversation, and to pass the phone to all the kids, and usually ends up whining about "Oh, you visited YOUR family. When are you going to come visit us?" (My family only lives 400 miles away, and we go not even once a year, by car.)

So, we ignore, ignore, ignore, ignore, and then call her the next day when things have settled down again.

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answers from Honolulu on

Are you her only child?

She is really controlling, to say the least.
And that is putting it lightly.

I can understand how... mad and resentful this makes you.
I have a sibling... that was JUST like that... when she and I were younger... actually, it was even until I was married.
I swear... she just made me, crazy. It was really deep emotional manipulations. That is what it is.
But this was a sibling. Not a parent. And she was... mentally off. Until, one day she saw a Therapist. And to this day, though she does not say it, I think she is on meds. Because she is mostly "normal" now, and it was an overnight improvement.

All I can say is, yes I understand.
And no, this is not something you have to have in your life.
But yes she is your Mom.
One day she will not be around.
But still, this does not mean, that you let someone... cause you mental anguish and dysfunction.

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answers from Boca Raton on

She sounds really anxiety-driven, and anxious people will wear you out sometimes - especially if they don't respect boundaries.

I would work with a therapist on how to handle her. You need strength and confidence that you're doing the right thing by stopping this behavior in its tracks. Otherwise you're enabling her imho. But she's not going to like it when you put your foot down.

I've watched two family members do this dance for a LONG time and it's extremely unhealthy for both parties.

Good luck.

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answers from Jacksonville on

Wow. You are perfectly justified in not wanting to deal with her as she expects. We live way more than 30 minutes from my parents. And we don't always call when we arrive home. Most of the time we do.. and they do too, when they leave here after coming for a visit. It is nice to know they made it ok--they are 71 years old! However, when we make those calls, there is no long conversation. It is, "we're home, uneventfully." (response: " ok, good. Enjoyed your visit. Talk to you soon.") Pretty much that's it.

The question is how you go about curtailing this. If, in the past, you have explained to her that you no longer feel the need to call her after a 30 minute drive (heck, I drive that to take my kids to school... I sure don't call my mother when I get home from that.) and she ignores it, then maybe you don't need to explain it again. But if you haven't, you really should explain fully that you are an adult and your spouse is the person who is making sure you make it to your destination safely. And that you will no longer be making (or accepting) those check-in calls after just a 30 minute drive (barring extenuating circumstances, like hurricane like weather--but she doesn't need to know that there are any exceptions, it will allow her to make everything an exception). That when you get home you have other responsibilities to take care of (unpacking the car, laundry, kids dinner/bedtime, getting ready for the next day, sorting through the mail, the answering machine, etc). And then, follow thru. Don't call her after a trip. Don't answer when she calls you (you have caller ID I assume?). If she calls and calls and calls, then turn the ringer off. Or take it off the hook in between calls.

The next time you talk to her, if she is pissy, just tell her, "I told you I wasn't doing that anymore. You shouldn't have let yourself get upset over it, because I told you in advance." And let that be the end. Don't apologize for her upset... it isn't your fault and you are not responsible for it.

Hopefully, over time, she will let it go, and you can then call her on the rare occasion when she might have actual cause for real concern (terrible weather, driving late at night when you are sleepy, or something like that). But I wouldn't really count on it. Just remind yourself that you are not responsible for her compulsion and her tendencies.
Yes, motherly care and concern never goes away---but it matures.
ETA: I meant to include that I loved the idea of having an emergency contact number for her in your wallet. Tell her you have one in your glove box, too (and put one there). Include her and your spouse on it (you could be in a wreck driving across town).

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answers from Grand Forks on

I would offer to send an email. Tell her you are not up to having a conversation after travelling.

My husband used to insist that I check in with him when I was travelling, but after many arguments I got my way. I do not have a cell phone, hotel phones are really expensive to use, pay phones are not always easy to find, especially in the US, and stopping to make a phone call in the middle of my vacation is a pain in the butt.

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answers from Washington DC on

Wish I could help ... I have a similar problem. Let me knowif anything works ....

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answers from Amarillo on

Wow, I would let her know I got home that night if I wasn't too tired or in the morning.

I like the poster that stated that if something was wrong the police would contact her.

My daughter and I talk all the time and she lives about 8 hours away by car. There are days were don't talk to each other but I don't ask her for details of her life as she is a woman and 36 years old. She tells me what she wants me to know and I don't pry.

So somewhere in the mix you have one of those moms that still wants to know everything in your life. Perhaps it's time for her to find some new hobbies besides your family.

Good luck to you.

the other S.

PS I do check in with my son when we travel to his home. He wants to know when we leave and we call him about 40 out from his home. If we don't call him on the way to his home, he usually calls us about half way as he knows the route we take and all is well. He also live 8 hours away from us but in the opposite direction of our daughter.

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answers from Baton Rouge on

That's what voice mail is for.

I had a similar issue with my parents several years ago. I was studying for finals and the phone was ringing off the hook, so I turned it off. A few hours later, there was a knock at my door, and it was my parents. When I asked what they were doing there, they said that they had been calling for hours, and I didn't answer my phone, so they came over to make sure nothing was wrong. I told them I had turned it off to study. They told me that I should have called them to let them know I was turning my phone off before I did it. I told them that I paid a phone bill every month so that I have the option of talking to people when it suits me, but that I was not obligated to answer every time it rang. They got mad, and they got over it.

I don't always even notify my parents if I'm going out of town. They live fifteen minutes from me and I don't speak to them every day. They're not in great health and I call to check on them aboutonce a week.

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answers from San Francisco on

Tell her that you will agree to "check in" so she doesn't have to worry, but that the check in will be no more than, "Hi mom, I arrived fine." You can have longer conversations at other times.

Since you have a great relationship the majority of the time, I think you should check in with her so she doesn't have to worry. You might understand that part of it when your kids are out of the house. Just make it clear that the check ins will not involve a long conversation.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Sit her down and tell your you are married, and that its your husband who makes sure you arrive home safely, not her. That you love her and love to keep in touch, but she is not that person for you anymore. Tell her why it irritates you. Then just tell her what you are and are no longer going to do and follow through even if it pisses her off.

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answers from New York on

One day when she is gone, you will wish you could check in with her. I do not see it as a problem. Just call and keep her happy.

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answers from Mobile on

You are an adult, and while she is still your mother, it's possible to love her and at the same time place boundaries on your relationship with her! Your priority now is your OWN family, and if she cannot realize or appreciate that, you can't take the blame onto your own shoulders. I have a mother much like yours, and she is famous for manipulating people, and giving guilt trips. I told her many years ago, that I did not deserve or appreciate any of the guilt she had to give me, and now when she (rarely) tries to give me one, she gets a quick "good-bye, talk to you later", and I hang up. She is who she is, but if I find certain behaviors unacceptable, I don't have to tolerate them...and neither do you! Be strong...



answers from Miami on

yikes. I check in with my parents when I travel, but it's typically a quick "I'm here. Love you" call or text. I talk with my mom pretty much every day now that we live 5 minutes from them, but before that I talked with her every-other-day to chat, but there was no freaking out if I didn't pick up!

Try texting her instead. That way she gets a response, but you don't have to have a long conversation.

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