The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I’m a female company employee in my 40s. I want to ask you about my mother, who I live with. I got a new job last autumn, but if I’m not home by 8 p.m., my mother texts me saying, “Where the heck are you?”
Even if I’ve told her that I’ll be home late because I’m going out for drinks, I get an email from her a bit after 10 p.m. saying: “Do you know what time it is? What are you thinking?” She even calls me on the phone.
The other day, I told her I'd come home late because I was going snowboarding. When I was delayed even further because I was caught in traffic, she snapped at me in a similar way. My friend said sympathetically, “Does your mother still think you’re a teenage girl?”
I sometimes go out with my boyfriend but haven’t told my mother about him. So sometimes she says things like: “What do you mean by ‘him?’ I don’t understand who you’re talking about. What are you doing with him?”
Even when I’m in my room, she says, “I don’t know what you’re doing in your room.” All these things make me not want to go home after work, and start thinking about living alone. However, we still have mortgage payments, and I don’t know what to do.
Dear Ms. F:
I can hear the sighs in your letter. Without question, your mother’s interference is abnormal. I don’t know what your family’s makeup is, but I’m guessing you’re from a single-mother, single-child family.
Your mother seems lonely to me, as if she’s saying, “Don’t leave me alone,” rather than being concerned about you. She completely depends on you.
I think it’s important that you make time to talk about this with your mother face-to-face. It may be a shock to her, but you should tell her straightforwardly, “I’ll contact you when I come home late, so don’t contact me.” If she doesn’t change, you may need to push her away, saying, “I’ll leave this house when I get married” — even if that’s just a bluff.
At the same time, convey your appreciation to your mother more than ever. Maybe she’s gotten stubborn because you haven’t conveyed this feeling enough. Tell her things like “I liked your cooking,” or “I bought a cake, so let’s eat it together.”
I think that your aging mother has become physically and mentally weak. If you resolve her loneliness and anxiety through everyday conversation, your relationship with her may begin changing.
Akemi Masuda, sports commentator