Dear Dr. Archer,
I would like to ask for advice how to deal with my mum. I'm 29 years old and live far away from her. The problem is that she expects me to tell her all about my life.
She says that it's her only pleasure -- to think about the interesting and happy things I live and experience, because her life is routine, dim and difficult.
Her situation is really not easy; she has a busy job as a doctor, has health problems, plus has to look after her old and dependent mother who requires help for all of her basic needs.
I live far away in another country and we see each other not more than once a year, but we speak on the phone. Her wanting to know details about my life is irritating me so much! I'm a private person and do not like to expose my life; it's an intrusion into my privacy.
My refusal to tell her life details hurts her and she ends up crying. This fight has been going on my whole life! She's blaming me for being abnormal and not having womanly chats.
I don't know how to sort this out. I want to bring positive emotions to my mum and brighten her life, but I have such a strong feeling against telling someone my life. It's a threat to my privacy!
She cries every time I explain this to her, and she blames me, telling me I should put forth an effort. Do I really have to force myself into this stress to give her this pleasure?
When you were young, I'm sure you relied upon your mother for all of your necessities. She was thrilled to watch you grow into a wonderful, independent young woman.
She raised you to the best of her abilities, and with great pride, no doubt. Then, Amber, you moved; not only out of the house, but out of the country.
Now your mom feels her life is mundane, boring and routine. She needs a break, and guess what -- you're it! As you admit, talking to you and hearing about your life is her only pleasure.
I don't think that's asking too much. She loves you, Amber, and she likes to know what you're doing and that you're happy. She wants to know you're enjoying life, and she experiences enjoyment in your life.
A compromise is definitely in order. I want you to think of stories that happen to you each day that you can share with your mom. Pick one day a week to share these stories with her to give her laughter, enjoyment and make her day.
You can tell her your plan, then on any other days, it's just general talk. On story day you can give her something to enjoy without compromising your privacy. This way you can plan in advance what you're going to say and what you won't say.
If mom thinks she's hearing everything, that's just great. No need to tell her you're keeping things from her.
Don't do something you might regret later, because all too often later is too late. Be kind and loving, and I promise you, Amber, you'll never regret it. All the best,