Manners Matter: Adult Child Seeks Less Parenting

Dear Mary Pat,

If you looked in the Urban Dictionary under “helicopter parent,” not only would you find my mother’s picture there, but it would also be highlighted and circled as well.

I’m 31 and chose to move back home and work remotely due to a COVID-19 spike in the city I’ve called home for nine years. Given that my parents have a guest cottage 400 feet from their home, I thought I’d be able to maintain my independence and not have decisions made for me. I was wrong. 

I receive wake-up texts at 5:30 am, along with an invitation to take a walk. She’s working on “retraining” my dog because she doesn’t think he listens well enough. When I went to the bank last week, I returned to a closet that was reorganized and mail put into piles ranked on her perceived order of importance. She had also remade my bed with hospital corners. 

I’m used to doing my own thing and not having my mom make decisions for me. Is there a polite way to tell her I’m not 10 years old anymore, and I’m feeling a little suffocated?


Doted-On Daughter

Dear Doted-On Daughter,

It’s pretty easy to fall into patterns with our family. If you have any doubt of that, think back to Christmas or Thanksgiving and that immature disagreement you probably had with your siblings. For your mom, you’ll always be her little girl to some degree. 

That being said, it sounds like you might want to set a few boundaries. You can ask her to please not go through your things. You can also let her know that you don’t need help with Fido (or maybe this one isn’t the worst?).

As far as 5:30 am walks, that would be a little early for most, so maybe you can negotiate a slightly later start. Even though all of this might seem like a little too much, your mom wants to help you and spend time with you, which is kind of great. This sounds more like the glass is half full to me.

Good luck,

Mary Pat

Miss Pat was educated at the Finnish Finishing School for Fine Ladies. Eloquent in edifying etiquette, she is fluent in seven languages, including the language of love. Mary Pat has generously extended her counsel to you and will answer any and all inquiries. Email Mary Pat at [email protected].