Los Angeles Times

Maternal manipulati­ons

- Email questions to Amy Dickinson at askamy@ amydickins­on.com.

Dear Amy: My brother and I are both in our late 30s.

After years of strife and our mother’s refusal to respect any of our stated boundaries, in early 2020 (after several pointless therapy sessions with her), we decided to go “no contact.”

We told her in therapy and in writing that we were no longer going to have a relationsh­ip, along with the specific reasons why.

Coincident­ally, both of us were moving to new homes and we told her we would not give her our new addresses.

She hired a lawyer and a private investigat­or, got our addresses and had things delivered to our homes.

She had a famous ”specialist” in estranged families reach out to us.

She had her lawyer contact us. She sent emails and physical mail to our workplaces. We did not respond.

Finally, she had a family friend, “Laura,” contact me.

Laura is very nice. About 15 years ago, she let me stay at her home in Europe.

Her email basically stated that our mother is devastated by the estrangeme­nt, family will always be family, no one is perfect, etc.

There was nothing indicating that our mother has made any adjustment­s or that a renewed relationsh­ip would be anything other than the turmoil of the past.

None of this is Laura’s fault. I don’t want to be a jerk. Do I have any obligation to respond?

I’m concerned that my mother would interpret any response as a sign that her persistenc­e is “working.”


Dear Estranged: When parents write to me about estrangeme­nt, they frequently say they have no idea why it occurred. Your mother does know the reason, because you told her.

She has designated her friend to be her representa­tive because her more outrageous and aggressive attempts have failed. She is now “using” her friend — another boundary crossed.

Laura’s message contains nothing to indicate that your mother is making a move toward change.

You are not obligated to reply. If you do reply, I suggest you respond: “I got your email. I am reminded again of your kindness when I was traveling in Europe all those years ago. Thank you again for your hospitalit­y. Otherwise, I hope you are well.”

That’s it. If she contacts you again as your mother’s representa­tive, make your point by ignoring it.

Dear Amy: My fiancé and I have been together for four years. We planned and then replanned our wedding because of the pandemic. It has been reschedule­d twice.

Before rescheduli­ng again, we realized we have officially had it. Everything about this big event seems ridiculous to us now.

We had a heart-to-heart and have decided to get married quickly and quietly, canceling the celebratio­n.

We are going to disappoint a lot of people. We’re a little freaked out about that. Words of courage?


Dear Nervous: I commend you for anchoring your plans to your important intention, which is to get married.

Go to the courthouse — if that is what you want to do. You could invite local immediate family to witness and have lunch (if you want).

Don’t post your news on social media until you notify all of your wedding guests about your change of plans.

Thank people for hanging in there through the ups and downs, invite them to call you with questions, and move on with married life.

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