My Mom’s Blabbing My Private Life

Dear Mom:

OMG! I just found out my mom’s been talking to her friends about my private life. I just broke up with my boyfriend and one of her friends started trying to make me feel better when she came into my work! Why would my mom do that to me? I’m so embarrassed! It’s none of their business. That’s the last time I tell my mother anything! No question, Mom. Just needed to vent.

Gossip’s Daughter. 

Dear Daughter:

Short answer: Yeah. There’s a question there.

Long answer: Let me start by saying I feel your pain. My mom still does this to me and I still find myself giving instructional preambles to everything I tell her. So while I have some suggestions for you, I can’t guarantee they’ll work. It’ll depend on your mom.

First of all, you need to talk to her. But the only way that works is if you wait until you’re in a place where you can be completely rational. Let the emotions run their course, and then put them away while you confront her. Let her know that you’re embarrassed at her sharing your life’s details. Tell her you don’t appreciate her betraying your confidence. And be clear that, even though you’re calm right now, you were – and still are – very upset.

If she can see your point and admit that she may have crossed a line, move on in your argument. Try to set clear boundaries about what she can and can’t share, and with whom.

You see, you need to understand how big a role you play in your mom’s entire sense of being. If you’re happy, she’s happy. And she wants to share that. And when you’re down, she’s double down – once for what happened to you, and again because it happened to you. When you were little, she fell into the habit of telling friends everything about you. There were likely detailed stories of personal discoveries, potty training trials and tribulations, and intimate questions. Thankfully, you were too young to care. but as you’ve grown, she hasn’t adjusted her filter to match your maturity level. It’s up to you to teach her about your expectations and boundaries. Just make sure you do it in a calm and respectful manner.

Then give her time to try to adjust. She may need reminders and nudges along the way; but hopefully, you and she will be able to work it out together.

If not, then you’re left with one option. Filter what you tell her. Confide in friends or another family member when you need to. But be careful what you tell mom – don’t tell her anything you don’t want posted online. You may find down the road that she’s ready to hear you better. But in the meantime, guard your privacy as you see fit.

I hate giving advice against one’s own parents. But I’m not telling you to ignore/dismiss your mom – not by any stretch. Just be careful what you tell her knowing that she may very well, even against your wishes, share too much. Give her time to learn the ropes. And try to forgive her the break-up slip. Chances are, she’s just as hurt/angry/pleased? as you are.

Hope that helps,

Love Mom.

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