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My mother (late 50s) searched my house when I (29f) wasn’t home, found a bag of weed, threatened to call the cops and CPS. WTF.(r/relationships)
My advice is predicated on the assumption that you’ve provided your mom/ dad/ brother with a guest key or other means of entering your home when you aren’t there.
Change your locks, keep doing what you’re doing. Maybe see if you can invest in a security or alarm system.
Option 1: Alarm system If you can invest in an alarm/ security system, see if you can get one that allows you to set a guest code, or set the code remotely. I don’t know if those exist, but it seems reasonable that they do. This would allow you to remotely set and reset the code if, say, your brother or dad need to get in the house for some reason while you’re not home and you want to let them, but you’re worried they’ll give the code to your mom.
Option 2: Electronic Locks We live in a rental duplex, and we just bought this and installed it. You can manually change the passcode if you need to — so, like, if you go on a family vacation and have your family members stop by the house to get the mail/ feed the pets/ water the plants, you can give them the code. Then when you get home, you can change the code.
Option 3: Change your locks If you don’t want to do or can’t afford the first two options, then at the very least, invest in changing your locks and don’t give out the key.
Non-lock related advice If I was wrong about my previous assumption (that your family has the ability to enter your home whenever they like), then this section is more relevant.
- Coping Strategy 1: Curtains and peepholes or property cameras Having opaque curtains and a peephole/ camera is so that you can conveniently be “on a walk” whenever your mom stops by. Doesn’t matter if your car is in the driveway — you were out. That’s your story and you’re sticking to it.
- Coping Strategy 2: My house, my rules My husband and I have had in-law issues from day one. For instance, my family and his family don’t get along, but they both wanted to spend the holidays with us. So we tried a combined family holiday, and his family was just super, uncomfortably rude — sat off to the side, only spoke to each other, and shit-talked the other guests (and me) within hearing. After that fiasco, my husband and I decided to alternate holiday family celebrations (like bad divorce custody agreement). After a few drama-filled Christmases, we gave up on alternating Christmas and claimed that as “our” holiday. If either side of the family complained, we just pointed to the fact that weren’t spending it with spouse’s family, either. On a similar note, both our families liked to store their shit with their kids. Obviously, I was aware of my family’s tendency to do this, and wanted to put a halt to it asap. With his family, the stuff was more of a placeholder — like, the fact that their stuff was at our place meant they were part owners/ occupiers of said place, and they could come and go as they pleased and treat anything on the grounds as theirs. Once I realized this, my husband and I set a ground rule to deal with this: We won’t store your stuff at our house. Ever. And in the 12 years we’ve been together, we have only slipped up twice — both times, we regretted it and it reminded us of why we had that ground rule. In this vein, make it a “house rule” that your mom cannot enter your house unless you are home. It doesn’t matter if you’re right down the block, she can’t come in — to reduce drama, you may have to enforce this rule on all family members who come to the house so you can cite it as policy for everyone, not “just” mom. If questioned on any new house rules, you don’t have to explain or defend them. Your house, your rules. If you feel an explanation is absolutely necessary, either keep it brief (We’ve had some issues with respect for personal property in the past, but we don’t want to single anyone out specifically so it’s the same rule for everyone) or go into a super long but very vague description that will make their eyes glaze over and cause them to never ask again.
- Coping Strategy 3: Get a pet Get a pet your mom can’t handle, but you can. Is she allergic to/ dislikes cats and dogs? Get a cat or dog. Is she terrified of snakes or rats, but you’re okay with them? Get a snake or a rat. This is basically making the environment inhospitable to her so she’ll voluntarily limit her time at your house.
- Coping Strategy 4: Move the party Not move house or town or whatever, just move the family get-togethers off your property. You don’t have to make a big deal of it, just kind of casually start moving any get-togethers away from your house. Family dinners? During the summer, meet at a local park for a cookout, and during the winter suggest some inexpensive restaurant you’ve been “really wanting to try.” If your mom wants to come visit, say, “Oh, I’ve got a ton of errands today — want to come with me while I run them?” If she takes you up on that, tell her to “meet you at x store,” so you’re at least in different vehicles.
- Coping Strategy 5: Never volunteer to host If you’re volunteered by someone else or pressured into it, structure the celebration so it’s as stress-free as possible –for summer holidays, arrange to go to a park or lake or the beach, and for winter holidays set a time for a “family dinner” and don’t answer the door if they show up early “to help” (I say that, but I know full well that’s impossible and everyone answers the door in that situation. Really, just make sure everything is taken care of so they have nothing to help with and have to sit in the living room awkwardly for 3 hours before the dinner actually starts. Politely refuse any offers they make to help, saying, “No, you’re my guest!”)
- Coping Strategy 6: You’re great! If your mom calls (as in the situation described above) and offers to come help clean/ watch kid/ whatever, just politely decline. Every time. She’ll probably throw up a fuss and make a big deal of it and maybe even try to rope your brother and dad into guilt tripping you, but your response is simple: I didn’t need her help — what was I supposed to do, make up busywork for her? That seems kind of patronizing. Believe me, if I ever need her help, I’ll ask! That last part doesn’t have to be true, it’s just reassurance that you’re not breaking off the relationship for good.
- Coping Strategy 7: Interior locks If all these other strategies are impossible, at least put locks on the rooms you don’t want your mom going into, and making sure they’re locked when she comes over.
The goal here is to make sure your other family members feel welcome in your life, yet setting clear boundaries for your mom. The best remedy, if you feel there is no way to cut her out of your life, is to make your home a safe haven, a place of retreat. That means doing everything in your power to limit your mom’s unsupervised access to/ presence on the grounds.
By applying perfectly reasonable boundaries evenly to all family members, you’re setting a standard. Further, because the boundaries are perfectly reasonable, your mom will be the only one flipping out about them. If your brother/ dad/ mom try to guilt trip you into relaxing these boundaries, do not show defensiveness or guilt. Respond calmly, with a light and dismissive/ flippant attitude. Stick to your guns and reiterate that these are perfectly reasonable requests that will be respected in your home.
I would also suggest that if your mom instigates another episode like the one above, you should call the police and report the incident (if there is no pot in the house, or you live in WA or CO). The goal is not to put your mom in jail, or even a 24-hour psych hold; the goal is to have a record of her behavior so that if she ever does try to call CPS or something on you, you have evidence of her issues.
edit/ Holy shit, I can’t believe someone gifted gold for this. Thanks! 🙂