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My parents are interfering in my life

Psychologies' agony aunt, Mary Fenwick, offers her perspective on your life problems

by Psychologies

My parents are both in their 70s, and fortunately are fit and well, but they are driving me nuts. I am a grown woman with two teenage children of my own, but my parents are constantly interfering in my life, offering strong opinions on what I should or shouldn’t be doing. My mother is a very self-obsessed and self-involved woman, and winds me up constantly as if she wants to get a reaction. I’ve also just started dating someone new after 10 years of being single, and I feel like my parents are driving him away. How can I ask them to stay out of my life – but in a kind way? Sophie

I agree with you that it’s important to be kind to your parents, but it sounds as if you have lost sight of the need to be kind to yourself and respect your own needs.

I suggest that you do a bit of reading about assertiveness; it’s the skill of saying what we want without being aggressive or passive. Some of the basic ideas are: we are all equal, but different, we have the right to say yes or no, or to change our minds, and we can choose whether or not to get involved in other people’s problems.

I suggest starting with one specific thing you want to change, and practise some simple phrases like: ‘I really appreciate how much you care, but I don’t need to hear this right now’. If you’re on the phone, you could say: ‘Thanks for saying that, but I have to go now. I love you, bye’.

This is a fabulous opportunity for you to make a change that will benefit your life – as a daughter, a partner and a mother.

Mary Fenwick is a business coach, journalist, fundraiser, mother, divorcée and widow. Follow Mary on Twitter @MJFenwick. Got a question for Mary? Email [email protected], with ‘MARY’ in the subject line

More information

Visit cognitivebehaviourtherapy.co.uk/Assertiveness/page_01.htm

Photograph: iStock

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