Mom does not need to know travel plans

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - DETOURS - CAROLYN HAX ——— Carolyn Hax is a colum­nist with The Wash­ing­ton Post. Email her at tellme@wash­

Dear Carolyn: My mom was al­ways strict and over­pro­tec­tive. I wasn’t al­lowed to do a lot of things that other kids my age were do­ing grow­ing up.

Now I’m 37 and know this stems from anx­i­ety. I’m plan­ning my first solo trip and I’m very ex­cited about it, but I hate the thought of telling my mom. I want to give her enough time to get used to the idea, but I’m dread­ing the months of hear­ing about ev­ery­thing that could pos­si­bly go wrong and try­ing to talk me out of it.

She has se­ri­ous bound­ary is­sues and will ex­pect me to man­age her anx­i­ety, but I know it’s not mine to man­age. Plus I have some anx­i­ety of my own, and adding hers on top of it can be too much (I’m in ther­apy).

I know I can’t change her re­ac­tion, so how do I han­dle the next few months? Any ad­vice is much ap­pre­ci­ated! — Solo

Dear Solo: Wait a minute. Why do you have to “give her enough time to get used to the idea”? It’s not her trip; it’s not your job to man­age her anx­i­ety — as you say your­self; and it’s go­ing to cost you dearly over these next few months to do so. So, why do that to your­self?

And, why do that to her? For some­one with anx­i­ety, ad­vance no­tice usu­ally means just more time to worry. Let’s say your trip is a week long and you tell her about it the day be­fore you leave (which I don’t rec­om­mend ei­ther, by the way; this is just a hy­po­thet­i­cal). That’s eight days of stress for your mother, and one lousy con­ver­sa­tion for you. Hold that up be­side the months of mu­tual ag­i­ta­tion and in­ap­pro­pri­ate risk-hag­gling, and it’s an easy call. Less is more.

If you were trav­el­ing with your mother, and your mu­tual abil­ity to en­joy the trip hinged on a care­fully man­aged roll­out of the itin­er­ary and other ar­range­ments, then, OK — I could see giv­ing her some ad­just­ment time.

But you’re a midlife adult and you’re go­ing by your­self. Shar­ing is ei­ther needto-know or just no.

In fact, I could ar­gue that your mother doesn’t need to know any­thing about your trip un­til af­ter you’re back. Have you run that op­tion by your ther­a­pist?

And in general, have you talked with him or her about the gap be­tween the healthy things you say about not be­ing re­spon­si­ble for what your mother feels, and the things you’re do­ing that read like a user man­ual for be­ing en­meshed?

You’ve got the right ideas. You’re tak­ing on solo travel, which isn’t easy for most peo­ple. Now it’s time to up­date your re­la­tion­ship with your mother to re­flect who you’ve be­come.

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