DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I'm an adult married woman. I have struggled since I was a teenager with the controlling style of my mother when she wants me to do something, from little things to really important things. Guilt and "naughty naughty" finger-wagging is her tactic and I've gotten good at ignoring this manipulative behaviour, even though it always makes me angry. She somehow believes this guilting will work on getting me to do something, while it actually has the opposite effect. It turns me right off. My problem right now is that there is something I actually would like to do and it's a favour for a third person, but before I even mentioned it, she is wagging her finger at me to do it, and it is making my heart pound in anger and my plan is just to ignore her again. My problem is that I don't want to shortchange the third person. On the other hand, I don't want to fuel my mother's power complex. This is why I dread Christmas. -- Guilted. Winnipeg
Dear Guilted: This is the Christmas you give yourself a big gift and your relationship with your mother a surprising turn for the better. You confront her this year about the finger-wagging and guilting. She may have heard it before but this time you lay out the consequences. You will cut off any conversation where she even starts up these guilting behaviours. When she's on the phone you will say. "Oops! Gotta go. Your finger is starting to wag and I have other things to do than play this power game, Bye now. Talk to you later." Do that consistently, even in person where you walk away. You're re-training her. As for doing this nice thing for a friend, just do it without referring to Mom's voice in your mind. Simple as this -- you want to do it? You do it.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I just saw a woman slap her child across the face on the bus. No one else said anything, so I went right over to the woman and said, "That's called assault, or if you like, physical abuse. It's a crime. You're a criminal." She grabbed her kid, and yanked her off at the next stop. I hope that taught the mother a lesson! Do you think it did? -- Horrified Mother of Three, Winnipeg
Dear Horrified: It's hard to say. It MAY have made it even harder on the child, when she got her home. If any of my readers has a better idea on how this should have been handled, please write in with your advice and we'll pass it on, in an upcoming column.
Questions or comments? Write Miss Lonelyhearts c/o Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Wpg., R2X 3B6 or email email@example.com