(s)Mothering and coaching.
July 23, 2012 7:01 PM Subscribe
I just told my mom that I'm moving to a developing country for 6 months and she didn't take it well. What should I do?
posted by Paper rabies to Human Relations (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I found out today that I got a 6-month technical placement with an NGO in a country in the global South (keeping it a little vague here), starting in a month. Woo-hoo! I'm really excited; I think this will be a challenging but rewarding job, and I have wanted to do this for a long time.
Now, I just got off the phone with my mother. She didn't handle the news well. She hung up crying, telling me she would call me back tomorrow and needed some time. Which I understand, but she didn't handle it well even when I just told her I was applying; she started e-mailing me stories about the crime in the country and sent me a guilt-laden message asking me why I felt compelled to go so far away from the people that love me (that's verbatim).
After that e-mail, I called her and we had what I thought was a pretty constructive phone conversation. My mom clearly suffers from anxiety, as I do too. I told her that we don't need to feel so panicky all the time, that I've been addressing this in therapy, and maybe it would be a good idea for her to explore this too.
More on mom - she's quite overprotective and has been ever since I was a child. I never spent more than a week away from my parents until I went to university. I lived abroad for a year in a European country, and while she wasn't too outwardly mopey during communication at the time, she frequently told me when I returned that me being gone was "the worst feeling in the world" and "so depressing she could hardly function".
I'm trying not to get too frustrated with her, because I imagine it's hard to know your child is going to a new, "scary" place. And because I've struggled with anxiety myself, I feel for her. But it's not like it isn't hard for me to leave my family, and hearing these kind of things makes me feel worse. Also, knowing what kind of toll this will have on her psychologically is incredibly guilt-inducing. And, I don't want her to suffer, but frankly she worries all the time, even when we're in the same country (I live in a big city, and she still lives in our rural hometown around 2 hours away).
So, what can I do here? Should I reassure her? Or just be firm but loving? I'm at a bit of a loss. Does anyone know of any resources for parents that might address some of these things? If anyone else has advice or previous experience with similar things, I would love to hear it.