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Ask Dave

Mom Sending Her On Guilt Trips

Audrey says her mother keeps expecting Audrey and her husband to help her financially. How does she say no respectfully?

QUESTION: Audrey in Atlanta says her mother keeps expecting Audrey and her husband to help her financially. How does she say no respectfully? Dave tells Audrey her mother is a travel agent for guilt trips.

ANSWER: That Scripture says to honor the position of father and mother. And to the extent your mother is acting like a mother and not a mooch, then we honor the person. When they stop being honorable to the position, I’m not obligated to honor their misbehavior.

God is not asking you to honor their misbehavior. He’s asking you to honor the position of fatherhood and motherhood. You don’t honor them if they’re doing cocaine by assisting them in that. You still love them, and you try to help them get better. You don’t honor them in misbehavior with their money or with their manipulation. The woman is a travel agent for guilt trips.

What you guys have is not a money problem. You have a mother problem. She doesn’t need any more money from you. You can say, “Mom, if you’re hungry, come over and we’ll feed you. But other than that, you need to work on this. If you need some coaching and encouragement on how to get to where we are, I’ll be your biggest cheerleader, and I’ll help you. But I am not obligated to give you money because you’re stupid.” You don’t have to be quite that blunt, but that can run through your mind.

Here’s what you need to do. The book is called Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud. You need to read it with a highlighter and a sticky note. It’s no longer a book for you; it’s a reference manual, baby. You’ve grown up with this crap, and it’s going to take a while for you to extract it from your soul. You’re going to feel guilty and crazy when you start doing reasonable and strong things with this woman because she’s very good at making you feel guilty and crazy. Your mind tells you that, but there’s always that little girl that wants to please her mommy down inside. I don’t care how old you get or how mean you get or how tough you get, you’re always going to have a little bit of that.

Grab that book and feed your mind and spirit so that you can love her well. What’s going to happen if you’re not careful is you’re going to get mad, and you’re going to do damage. You need to help her in ways other than with money. But if she keeps on this track and you don’t arm yourself, you’re going to have enough boundary violations that you’re going to reach over with a sword and cut her head off.