I have only just started at uni and my mother is driving me crazy. She rings several times a day and if I don’t pick up leaves long messages both on WhatsApp and my voicemail.
When we do speak she demands to know exactly what I am doing, the lectures I have been to, if I have any friends and if so who they are, what we do and even the time I go to bed. She also wants me to fix a specific time to call her every day. She’s always been controlling but this is ridiculous. I’ve tried to say I can’t guarantee what time I will be free to speak to her, but she won’t have it.
I don’t think it is because she is worried how I will cope, or is suffering from empty nest syndrome because during my last two years at school she kept repeating that she couldn’t wait until I was out of the house and she had my room to use for her hobbies. Very nasty stuff as she was insinuating I couldn’t come back in the holidays. Instead I believe it is all about losing control of me.
I, on the other hand, managed to go to a university that was too far away from home so I couldn’t visit and get back in one day. Outside of the endless phone calls I am settling in really well and have joined several clubs. I even shared my feelings about my phone calls and my mother with two of my new friends who were very supportive. Trouble is I don’t know how to stop her behaving like this.
Congratulations on getting to university and making a good start with your studies and social life. You anticipated that there would be difficulties with your over- intrusive mother so it is no surprise that she is being a nuisance, especially with all her phone calls. Her motivation is complicated and part of it is because she still wants to have control over you. While her suggestion that she’ll use your bedroom for her hobbies is most likely to be a defence strategy to help her cope with your absence.
You are right to try to manage her behaviour straight away before it becomes a routine. Remember it is up to you how often you want to be in touch. Don’t commit to phone her at precise times on certain days. If you are a few minutes late, you leave yourself open to criticism. Explain again that you can’t call every day. Offer instead to ring her once a week but add that you need to focus on your work and won’t have time to listen to long messages on your voicemail.
We also recommend you allot a certain amount of time for each call and have an excuse ready why you need to stop talking and end the call if she starts being rude. It will soon sink in that you won’t be bullied. Give it a few weeks and see how she reacts. If it doesn’t work you could think about sending her a text or writing a weekly letter. Keep the subjects neutral and ignore any additional attempts she makes to get in touch.
Luckily you have found some new friends who are happy to listen to your problems with your mother so do continue to share your worries with them.