Dear Annie: My mother is overly controlling with her grown children. She seems to think that when she gives an opinion, we have to agree. What’s worse, she is so negative about everything. She starts fights with us and expects us to capitulate and say she is right every time. She voices her opinions without thinking them through and has stepped on a lot of toes throughout the years. She has no friends left. We don’t even celebrate holidays together because it is too depressing.
Mom will pick a fight on the phone, scream at the top of her lungs and then hang up and refuse to talk to us until we call and beg forgiveness. My father is the only one who is always on speaking terms with her, but he’s afraid to make her angry or she’ll start a fight with him, too. So he stays out of our disputes.
Please help before she drives everyone away.
— Sad in Ohio
Dear Ohio: People who are perpetually unhappy, pick fights with others and drive friends and family away are often depressed and may even have an underlying mental illness. Your mother’s apparent physical problems are likely exacerbating the situation. Unless she recognizes that she needs help, she isn’t likely to respond well to any suggestion that she get it. Contact the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (dbsalliance.org) at 1-800-826-3632 and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (nami.org) at 1-800-950-NAMI (1-800-950-6264), and ask for assistance.