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Dear Stavroula

Ask Stavroula: My Mother Disagrees with My Decision to Move Away

Dear Stavroula, 

I am 25 years old and the problem I have is the relationship with my mother, which is very important to me, because my father passed away. 

About a year ago, I left home and live in a different part of Greece with my partner. My mother cannot accept it. At first, she reacted strongly, but then was passive aggressive about it. Every time we talk on the phone she makes me feel bad, she keeps telling me that I left her and that she misses me a lot. I miss her too, but I'm happy living here with my partner. 

She recently visited me and made me feel even worse. She did not like my house, my neighborhood, or my partner's parents, whom she did not want to meet at first. 

When my mother left, my partner confessed to me that he felt bad about her comments, because she made him feel that he could not provide what I needed, like a better home. 

My mother's attitude is supported by my brother, who is 21 years old and lives with her. He also accuses me of abandoning our family with my decision to leave, because now he is obliged to stay with her, so that she is not alone. 

My problem is that on the one hand I feel remorse and on the other I think that I have to look after myself and make my own family. Besides, I feel really better here where I am even though I miss them. I do not want my mother to become, as she constantly says, "a grandmother by phone," but I do not see alternatives … Can you help me? 

Anastasia 

Dear Anastasia, 

The mother-daughter relationship is not always the easiest relationship, especially if the former finds it difficult to accept her child's adulthood and the need to take responsibility for her life. In fact, for the Greek mother, it is often a given that her child, especially the daughter, will stay close to her, with the excuse that she will help her when she has her own children. 

However, the role of parents is not to keep their children close and help them in any difficulty or to protect them in any danger for their whole life. It is mainly to prepare them, so that when the time comes, they choose the life they dream of, enjoy its beauties, and endure its difficulties. And most importantly, take responsibility for their choices. 

Reading your email, a phrase seems to be repeated often in your words "I feel bad," "I feel remorse." If I understand you correctly, your problem is that you cannot manage the strong negative emotions you have because you left your mother, and she exacerbates those negative feelings. I would like to ask you a few things. 

First of all, if your mother said to you "well done my child, you made a very right decision" how would you feel about your choice? Would you feel bad? Would you have regrets? Would you doubt your choice to leave? Would you like to go back? 

Secondly, when your mother directly or indirectly rejects your choices (your place of residence, your partner) what is your attitude? Do you think you support your position convincingly or do you keep quiet and leave your mother to believe that she is right? Do you feel that she is right somehow? 

For example, how did you react when your mother made your partner feel inadequate? Do you think that what you are getting from him is more important than what he cannot give you right now? 

Finally, if you had to put it on a scale, on the one hand, what you have where you live, and on the other what you would have living near your mother, which side weighs more? 

So if the only problem in your life right now is your mother's attitude, clarify it for yourself, limit it, and try to improve it. Speak to her calmly and let her know that you will love her whether you live near or far. That if she wants to continue to experience that love, solutions will be found. Later you can find a job that will give you more free time or money to visit more often. You may be able to bring your mother to live with you for long periods of time, if you wish. And if your mother continues to refuse to respect your choices, set your limits – do not let her manipulate you. 

But if you feel bad because you see that something is actually bothering you about the situation, try to find what it is, accept it and try to manage it, improve it or discard it. Life – and its responsibility – is yours. 

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