Miss Conduct

Advice: My mom’s insults make me want to cut off contact with my family

I did get a little tipsy while out with a friend, but her reaction was uncalled for.

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Recently I was out celebrating a friend’s birthday and got a little bit tipsy. My mother called three or four family members and told them I am an alcoholic and drug addict with no potential future ahead of me. I confronted her about it and she states that she wants the best for me and my behavior needs to be known. I am 28, I don’t do drugs, I drink socially, and I work in a hospital as a nurse. I do not understand why she would make up these rumors. I feel like cutting off my whole family at this point.

Anonymous / Boston

How awful! I’m so sorry your mother lashed out at you like that.

Do you really want to cut off your family? As a group, are they bad for you? You can do that, if it’s what you have to do. Sometimes people do sever all family ties — a drastic measure, but usually prompted by drastic reasons.


But if the only problem is your mother, claim your power. You know how friends will talk about their mothers so that you’re semiconsciously imagining a cross between Angela Merkel and Aunt Lydia from The Handmaid’s Tale? Then when you meet them they’re just ordinary older ladies in Lands’ End athleisure wear? Your mother is like that, too.

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You’re a grown-up. You’re a doggone nurse! However hurt and angry you may be, refuse to take the accusation — or any future ones — seriously. Make jokes about it if she brings it up at family gatherings. You don’t have to defend yourself or apologize or get angry. Your accomplishments and behavior are proof that she is wrong. It’s her credibility that’s on the line, not yours.


Miss Conduct is Robin Abrahams, a writer with a PhD in psychology.