Home News How to deal with manipulative mother – Chicago Tribune

How to deal with manipulative mother – Chicago Tribune

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How to deal with manipulative mother – Chicago Tribune

Dear Amy: I live four hours from my elderly widowed mother. I will be in her area for a week very soon doing some work, and I plan to take her for brunch on the Sunday that I am there. She does not drive. Making the arrangements, she managed to slide in, “I thought you might like to go to church with me.” Meaning: “I want you to take me to church before brunch.”

Even though I don’t disagree with the church’s teachings, I just don’t want to go.

My mother essentially would not take no for an answer.

I felt so pressured that finally I lied and said I had a meeting early that afternoon.

I feel manipulated. I would likely have accepted her request with a kinder attitude if she didn’t have a history of doing this.

The incident that stays in my mind is when my husband and I invited her out to dinner for her birthday. We were planning to make the four-hour trip to take her out.

The day before, I found out from someone else that she had, behind my back, invited my estranged sister and her husband. We ended up staying home.

Now I can’t seem to get past the idea of her tricking and manipulating me.

I’m probably angrier than I need to be. I also have a sense of guilt about the whole thing.

Do you have any advice? Should I cave in and take her to church? If I’m being hard-hearted, please tell me.

– Tricked In Illinois

Dear Tricked: Your mother pushes your buttons because of her history of being manipulative, at least when it comes to you.

However, sometimes an elderly woman just wants to go to church, and she will resort to being sneaky in order to get there. (Don’t you remember what it was like to be a teen without a car, and that feeling of always having to shag rides?)

Unfortunately, you have a knee-jerk reaction to your mother; this likely goes way back in your shared history.

But – I repeat – sometimes an elderly woman just wants to go to church.

Yes, you are angrier than you need to be, but you are on high-alert and have over-compensated.

(By the way, your lie to get out of this is also sneaky.)

Yes, you should cave and take her to church. You can get her seated and sit in your car or the fellowship hall until the service has ended. You should also investigate any programs the church might have to give rides to elders. Having this social lifeline might cause your mother to be less sneaky on Sundays.

After church, you should do your best to speak with your mother very honestly about what happened on her birthday. Use “I statements” and be polite, frank and authentic regarding how this made you feel.

Dear Amy: I just learned that my wife’s spending is out of control.

Several years ago, she got into financial trouble with a credit card debt of around $6,000. She told me about it and I bailed her out.

Last week, she said it had happened again. I took a look at her credit card statement and saw she was owing on charges left over from Christmas and some vacation travel we had taken. I agreed to help her out again.

Then she admitted to me that she had another card and that she owes almost $10,000 on it, due to gambling.

This is very shocking. I didn’t even know she gambled. She feels terrible. I could probably cover this, too, but I don’t know if that’s the right thing to do.

– Concerned

Dear Concerned: Your wife should get professional help for a gambling addiction right away. You and she should meet with a therapist who specializes in this. As with other addictions, you should approach this as a very serious illness which requires treatment.

Additionally, you should also get legal and financial advice about how to protect your property and assets from her debts.

The ease and ubiquity of online gambling makes it very easy for people to hide their addiction, until the financial consequences force them to face it.

Dear Amy: Your writing often makes me laugh, but your response to “Future Dad” was the tops. I smiled when I read your first line: “Hell to the no.”

I haven’t heard that phrase in a long time, and it’s time for a comeback.

– Laurie

Dear Laurie: As long as you’re laughing with me, and not at me…

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)



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