Ask Amy

Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 11:45pm

DEAR AMY: I am a 27-year-old woman with a husband, a baby and a full-time job.

I moved away from home when I was 18. I came home from college for the summers, and in my last semester I decided to make the jump and move out on my own for good.

I have a good relationship with my mom and we are friends; however, she doesn't seem to understand that I live and work 50 miles away from her.

She constantly gives me guilt trips and sad stories about how it is so hard for her to drive to see my family and me. She is constantly pressuring me to move closer.

We learned recently that we may have to move, because of the sale of the building we live in. Now my mother exerts nonstop pressure for us to move closer.

When I try to calmly reason with her, she gets upset and either cries about how my family isn't important to me or she gets mad and yells and we go back to square one.

We have compromised and are looking for places 10 to 15 miles closer, but that's still not close enough. My mother would be happy with me commuting two hours to my job if we would only live in my hometown.

My husband was recently laid off and is trying to go back to school; the added stress from my mother is almost overwhelming.

I have no idea how to handle this, so please help!

— Desperate Daughter

DEAR DESPERATE: So far, you've handled this by being overwhelmed and giving in to the pressure by agreeing to move closer. And how did your mother respond to this stress-induced gesture?

She cranked up the heat.

Let me compare your situation to a professional wrestling match and say that the worst thing to do with a bully is to take a chair to the face and hope it doesn't hurt.

Don't raise this topic with your mother. When she does, you can say, "Mom, I'm done. I won't discuss this with you further. So far, the pressure from you only makes me want to move farther away, so you need to stop now."

You can demonstrate your new attitude by being calm and in charge when you speak to her.

If you can't manage that, there is another technique.

My personal fieldwork in this arena has revealed the following: If you can't stand up to a bully, then the most effective response is to run away. Fast.

You should consider it.


DEAR AMY: Over the past couple of months, I have sent three acquaintances e-birthday cards. They were cute cards that took some time to pick out. In two cases, this was because I learned of the birthday when it would've been too late to send a card through the mail.

None of the recipients acknowledged their cards.

Did I miss the memo saying that when you do something thoughtful online, it means less or doesn't count at all?

— Just Wondering

DEAR WONDERING: Must you be thanked for a card the way you should be thanked for a gift?

I'm not so sure, though it is thoughtful for a recipient to say, "Thanks, that made me feel good," a sentiment expressed quite quickly and easily via e-mail.

You can coax an acknowledgment out of your friends by asking if they received your greeting or if your cards fell into the spam bucket.

I'd love to hear from readers on this: Must one be e-thanked for an e-card?


DEAR AMY: "Put-Upon Friend" didn't know how to handle her bipolar friend who goes off her medication and says nasty things.

I had a roommate who was bipolar, but she was always on her meds.

Two weeks before graduation she decided to stop, had a mental break, destroyed our apartment and verbally attacked me. I knew that these actions weren't intentional, but it still hurt.

Put-Upon Friend should be as supportive as possible. She should also keep in close contact with her friend's family so they're aware that she isn't taking her meds. If it weren't for the fact I was close to my roommate's father, the situation could have been much worse.

— Friend, Too

DEAR FRIEND: Your suggestion to reach out to family is excellent.

Send questions via e-mail to askamy@tribune.com

Filed under: Lifestyles