Ask Amy

July 14, 2014

Ask Amy: Mother excels at probing, not parenting

Dear Amy: I am a college student. My mother and I have a great relationship — I feel like I can tell her anything — but there is one problem that has become increasingly frustrating. If I give her the name of a guy I would maybe consider dating, she insists on conducting extensive Internet searches until she has found his hometown, his high school activities, his parents' professions, his past girlfriends — everything.

Dear Amy: I am a college student. My mother and I have a great relationship — I feel like I can tell her anything — but there is one problem that has become increasingly frustrating. If I give her the name of a guy I would maybe consider dating, she insists on conducting extensive Internet searches until she has found his hometown, his high school activities, his parents' professions, his past girlfriends — everything.

This has been happening since I was in high school, but it grew worse last year, when I showed interest in someone who we later found out was keeping some pretty significant information from me.

I have no problem with looking through Facebook and Twitter profiles myself.

I've also gone out with "bad matches" just because I knew she would hate them.

I've brought this up, but she has continued searching anyway; her reasoning is that since everything is on the Internet, she might as well use it to her advantage.

Honestly, she is usually spot-on in her judgments. Should I limit what I tell her (which will make me feel guilty)?

— Distressed in Dallas

Dear Distressed: This outrageous behavior doesn't seem to bother you enough. I can only assume that this is because your mother has successfully gaslighted you into thinking her behavior is acceptable. It is not. She might be a great private investigator, but her parenting skills leave a lot to be desired.

You've already admitted to going out with "bad matches" in order to punish her, and that is the most predictable consequence of her intrusion.

The obvious answer is for you to not tell her anything relating to your intimate dating life. Explain this by telling her, "No more background checks, Mom. I'm going to have to figure this out on my own." This will definitely interfere with your mother-daughter closeness, but that is a consequence of her being so untrustworthy.

Dear Amy: "Perplexed" sounded like a sanctimonious parent with two "perfect" children, complaining about a family member with a typical tantrum-throwing 3-year-old. I can't believe you didn't call him on this.

— Not perplexed parent

Dear Not Perplexed: I felt sorry for the tantrum-throwing little boy whose parents let him rule the household and then worried about his behavior. Calm and confident parenting would benefit this child, and I hope the parents get a clue.

 

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Amy Dickinson

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Amy Dickinson is a syndicated columnist. Email: askamy@tribune.com.

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