Carolyn Hax: Advice

Nosy family needs boundaries

Carolyn Hax
Carolyn Hax

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: How do I deal with an extremely judgmental helicopter family? I am living in another country trying to sort out what I want in my life, not depending on anyone but myself financially. When I call home, instead of, “How are you?,” I get a tirade of questions about what am I doing with my life, etc.

I am happy where I am right now, but after I talk to people back home I get anxious and down on myself. I get they are just looking out for me, but I am 30 and successful in my life. How do I learn to just ignore their comments?

Sorting Out

Stop talking to them so much. Specifically, stop responding to interrogations as if they’re entitled to all that information: “Oh, gosh, I’ve got to go. Love you, bye.” Say it any and every time they start down the path that wears down your resistance.

They are not “just looking out for” you. If that were the case then they would give you room to exercise your own judgment and build your own strength and confidence.

If you want a more charitable take, then, OK: They think they are looking out for you but apparently lack the emotional health and resources to recognize that they’re really just undermining you by treating you as if you’re doing something wrong.

For practical purposes, these two takes are the exact same thing, with the exact same remedy. Stop talking to them so much, at least until they get the message that interrogations = end of the call.

Happy sorting.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.

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