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Health & Balance

How to Handle a Meddlesome Mom

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Step 3: Be ready for a snippy-mom moment.

Despite your diplomacy, she may react defensively, saying, "I was only trying to help," or "I can't say anything without you biting my head off." Just keep your tone light — and reassure her of your love — by saying, "I know you meant to help, and I appreciate that," or "You've done a lot for me all my life, Mom." Then give her a hug.

Step 4: Fend off future buttinsky behavior.

Just like a kid, your mom will test you to find out if you meant what you said. When she starts in with the meddling, try these back-off tactics:

Make a wisecrack. Example: "So, you're still hoping to get me to wear my hair long? Sorry, Mom — ain't gonna happen. I admire your persistence, though — let's hope the kids inherited some of that for when they have to do homework!"

Remind her that she doesn't love getting free advice either. Say, "I don't want tips on how to dress, remember? You know how you don't like it when Dad tells you how to be a better driver? It's the same feeling."

Be a broken record. Whenever she tries to butt into another area of your life, simply reply, "Mom, I love you, but that's another thing I want to sort through by myself for now."

Chalk it up to personal preferences, as in, "I love your taste, Mom, but it's just not mine."

Step 5: Find new ways for the two of you to bond.

"Your mom wants — and needs — to be helpful and useful to you," says Lerner. So ask for her tips on making chili, training a dog — whatever you want to know that only she can tell you. And coax her to talk about how she wrestled with the thorny issues all women face: "Mom," you could say, "how did you carve out time for yourself with three young kids?" Or invite her to do something that's novel for both of you — go on a hike, get a mud wrap — anything where neither of you is an expert, and you're enjoying it all together for the first time.

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