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QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:
Relationships Department

Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other SelfhelpMagazine.com staff.

Question

My cousin invited me to her daughter's first birthday party. I would like to go with my husband and family. She did not invite my parents because there has been a rift in the family between my mother and her sister for the past 5 years. I told my mother about the invitation. She said that if I go to this party, I would be disloyal to my parents. She also indicated that she would be very angry with me and that I would supporting my aunt against my mother.

Answer

It sounds like you want to do what is right for you. You and your mother are separate, but it sounds like your mom wants to make you an extension of herself. You have the right to go to your cousin's party and need to set boundaries between you and your mom. You may want to talk with your mother and tell her that you intend to do things she might disagree with, but that you love her and want a relationship with her that allows you to have your own opinions and follow your own thoughts. If having a relationship with your mom means doing what she wants rather than what is good for you, this is not a relationship, but an entrapment. Don't expect this separation to be easy. Many family members often try to use anger and guilt to keep other family members "in line". How you separate from your mother is a delicate, but necessary developmental stage to reach adulthood.

3/5/98

Dr. Patricia Pitta is a clinical psychologist practicing in Manhasset, New York, for more than 20 years. She is a Diplomat in Family Psychology of the American Psychological Association and an Approved Supervisor of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. Dr. Pitta is also the President of the Long Island Association of Marriage and Family Therapy.

She has created a treatment modality that enables the partners to accept responsibility for their parts in relationship problems leading to resolution of issues without getting stuck in blame. She encourages self growth which enhances couple growth and family development.

 

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