Ask Alma: Mother moved in but won’t move out


— Dear Alma,

My mother and I have a decent relationship. She was on drugs when I was growing up, but she’s stopped and is doing fine. She is healthy and able. She lives with me and my kids. She doesn’t pay rent or help with the kids. I’m 36 and she’s 55. When she moved in, I thought it was temporary and wanted to help her get on her feet. Now she says she should be able to stay as long as she wants and not have to pay any bills because she’s my mother. I love my mother and I want the best for her, but I feel guilty that I want her to leave. What should I do?

Unfortunately, there’s some sweet and sour in your “mama drama” soup. The sweet is obvious – your mom was able to quit her habit and the two of you have a good relationship. What a blessing!
The sour is obvious, too – your mama is taking advantage of you. She’s introduced you to the “guilty club” as if it’s a Girl Scouts meeting. Mama’s gotta lotta nerve and knows exactly what she’s doing.
She’s playing on your heartstrings, and it’s time to stop the music.
Tell her, point blank: “Mama, you gotta go. I’ll help you find a place, but you need to leave within the next 90 days.”
This is a tough conversation to have, and I don’t envy you at all, but you’ve got to do it.

Right now you’re enabling her. Do you know what that is? That’s when a well-meaning loved one helps to the point that they strip the other person of all responsibilities and the person become completely reliant upon you.
That’s not what you intended, I know, but that’s how it unfolds.
You’re mom is still a healthy, young woman. She can find her own place and move out of your space. Remind her that you’ll be there when she’s well seasoned and aged, but for right now she’s on her own.
If you feel the need to continue to help her in some way, add her to your cell phone plan and pay the bill. There are many ways to help besides having her live with you.
Don’t feel guilty. You’re doing the right thing – for you and for your mama.


Alma Gill’s newsroom experience spans more than 25 years, including various roles at USA Today, Newsday and the Washington Post. Email questions to: Follow her on Facebook at “Ask Alma” and twitter @almaaskalma.