My mother is quite single-minded in getting what she wants. Unfortunately, she also has only a single tactic: trying to convince me every single time we talk.

Most of these things are products or activities that my wife and I have no interest in. Yet saying "no" is not a solution. It just leads to us having to explain why we're not interested, and then reply to every single counter she provides to our objections. Eventually, the topic will be dropped... only to continue the very next time we communicate, at which point we have to start the whole thing over.

Examples include activities like kayaking, one of those food services where they send weekly packages to your house containing all of the ingredients for a single meal along with the recipes, and an expensive "concierge healthcare service" that is basically paying someone to facilitate doctor visits and handling healthcare issues.

When I was in my 30's, there was a span of several years where she was trying to get me to buy a kayak so I could go with her. No matter how I phrased my complete lack of interest, she refused to accept it. I tried responses like "kayaking doesn't sound fun to me", "I can't afford it", and "I don't have any place to store a kayak". She had a counter for each one ("try it! You'll love it once you're on the water... I did!", "they're not that expensive, and you can get payment plans!", and "you can rent storage with us!"). The only reason she stopped asking is because she stopped kayaking.

My wife and I discussed the meal service, and agreed that it was too expensive, and not something we were interested in, because we already make meals similar to what they offer. After 6 months of it being brought up every time, and our responding "no" in every way we could think of, my mother gave my wife a gift certificate for the program for my wife's birthday present. The gift certificate was enough to cover one-and-a-half meals for two (we have a son, and they don't offer meals for three). After that, every conversation with my mother involved "so, what did you think?" followed by audible disappointment when we said we hadn't tried it yet.

We did eventually shell out the money to get 4 meals (there was no option for 2 or 3 meals), paying out-of-pocket for more than the amount of the gift certificate. We found it wasteful, overrated, and surprisingly inconvenient. We then had to explain this to her on half a dozen different occasions before she finally dropped it.

The concierge service seems to be trying to solve a problem we don't have (long waiting times for appointments, difficulty understanding test results, forgetting routine visits, etc.), and is expensive. But apparently my mother and her husband will get a discount if we sign up as a referral, so I fear that this one will keep coming up for months. We've already politely told her that we're not interested about 8 or 9 times, in a variety of ways.

How can I get her to stop badgering us over things we're not interested in?

  • 6
    Oh, I wish life was simple. :( Have you talked to your mother's husband about this?
    – NVZ
    Commented Aug 23, 2017 at 13:18
  • 63
    What happens when you just say "no" and leave it at that? You don't HAVE to explain anything, "No." is a complete sentence.
    – Erik
    Commented Aug 23, 2017 at 13:31
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    I feel it should be said. There is absolutely no requirement that you keep "family" in your life, even if they are blood. At some point a cost/benefit analysis will likely reveal that it is detrimental to keep them in your life. I admit this is probably much more complicated with children, since in your case your mother is also your child's grandmother. But I am personally a firm believer in removing toxic/troublesome people from my life. Their biological connection to me is irrelevant. I ultimately made such a decision with my own mother many years ago but, no children to think of.
    – JVC
    Commented Aug 23, 2017 at 14:31
  • 3
    @Beofett If somebody doesn't accept your explanation, what they are making clear is that they don't deserve getting an explanation. If she doesn't accept anything anyway, why bother talking? You just can't win... Commented Aug 23, 2017 at 14:57
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    This isn't actually a problem until you and your wife start disagreeing with each other. So long as you and your wife are on one side and your mother on the other it will be more annoying than destructive.
    – Ian
    Commented Aug 23, 2017 at 17:12

21 Answers 21


This sounds like stereotypical "door-to-door salesman" behavior, and I think you might try the same tricks that work with those.

Say "No.", and if they try to continue, just refuse to engage with them. If they come up with a "Why not?" just keep saying

"We're not going to do it. Let's talk about something else."

Once you made clear that it's not a subject you want to talk about, it is not you being rude when she keeps bringing it up, and you can point that out to her when she accuses you of being rude:

"I have been pretty clear that I do not wish to discuss this subject further. We gave you an answer. I think it is very rude of you to keep bringing it up."

Of course, if you want jokingly take it to the next level, you could always warn her you'll put up a "No Soliciting" sign outside your door and you'll add her name to the list. (If you think she can handle a joke like that, obviously.)

  • 50
    When I was a door-to-door salesman, I was told that someone giving me a reason for saying no was inviting me to change their minds, and I had to get them to say "no" ten times before I was allowed to put them down as a no and go on to the next door. Of course, not giving a reason is hard, especially to family. I'd list every reason, put it in an email to them, and then say it's not up for further discussion, and then say "no" to discussing it further without any more reasons. A long "no" is hard on salespeople - keeping it short and hard/firm is best for your relationship. +1
    – Aaron Hall
    Commented Aug 23, 2017 at 17:19
  • 38
    This is good advice, but there needs to be a part 2: if she refuses to drop it, then hang up the phone or leave the house. Set those boundaries, and enforce them.
    – BradC
    Commented Aug 23, 2017 at 19:43
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    I say "No" to a salesman only once. If he says anything not resembling a departure after that, I close the door, foot or no foot. Or I set the phone down and let him talk to the air. With a mother, I'd take Erik's approach.
    – WGroleau
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 6:48
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    +1 to @BradC -- cut off communication. It sucks, but hopefully she'll get the idea that she's not going to change your mind, and will choose to back off her unwanted suggestions in the name of maintaining family harmony.
    – Doktor J
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 16:03
  • 1
    I wonder what happens if I ask the door-to-door salesman if we can "talk about something else." :)
    – Evorlor
    Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 4:51

Reasoning works only with reasonable people.

So stop giving her reasons. You already know she won't accept them, she will simply use them as a basis for an argument.

Find a (boring) phrase and repeat it like a parrot: "No, Mom, we're not interested in that." Maybe pair it with a subject change.

Maybe something vague and non-committal like "thanks, we'll think about that". (You will think about it after all, immediately before dismissing it as a bad idea).

If that works, great. If not, you need to step it up:

Set a boundary and enforce it.

Tell her clearly, "We're not interested in (buying a kayak/joining a meal service/letting you stay in our guest room for a month/going on a cruise with you and Dad), and I'm not interested in talking about it anymore. If you can't drop this subject, I'm going to leave/hang up."

And then do it. Hang up the phone if she won't drop it. Or pack up the kids and leave the house, if you are visiting.

She may blow up. She may accuse you of thinking she's a terrible person. She may sulk and blame you. Doesn't matter, let all that roll off your back.

She will either learn, or she won't. Either way, you won't hear about kayaks anymore.

EDIT: If she is in your home when this conversation occurs, enforcing this boundary involves some obvious logistical difficulties.

You can still disengage by leaving the room, or obviously starting up a conversation with someone else, or being more forceful with "how about that subject change!" (I mean that literally, use the phrase "how about that subject change"), but trying to get her out of your home is a much more direct confrontation.

If you can't see yourself escalating to kicking her out, you need to seriously consider reducing her visits, at least until she has shown some improvement in her behavior. Insist on going out to a restaurant/to the park, or whatever, so you can exit on your own if needed.

When you do, always have your own transportation, never get stranded somewhere relying on her for a ride back.

This isn't going to be easy, and she's not going to give in without a fight. You've had this dynamic with her your entire life, and she's not going to like your efforts to change it. But hold firm to your boundary, reduce your calls/visits as necessary, and she will either realize she has to relate on your terms, or not at all.

  • 2
    This answer would be better if you also add enforcing the boundary when she is visiting you.
    – Erik
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 5:58
  • Agree, @Erik, although that presents some obvious logistic challenges. I'll edit in some of my ideas.
    – BradC
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 13:31
  • This! People don't learn without consequences. Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 16:53
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    "never get stranded somewhere relying on her for a ride back"... and don't let the reverse happen either, if you don't want her to also get mad at you for deserting her without a ride.
    – user541686
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 9:23
  • 1
    "If it's in your house and you don't want to deal with kicking her out (that's a bit harsh)" then you can just say something short like "As I've mentioned before, I'm not interested". If she continues, ignore her. If she says words to the effect that you're ignoring her and it's rude say "on the contrary, it's you who are ignoring me - i've already given you an answer".
    – user3573
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 12:06

People can be hard but especially family you can't avoid.

I am no expert but you could try and think of the following:

  • What is the reason she is pursuing her ideas on you? Do you know the reason, did you talk to her about it. Probably this is just a symptom of a deeper lying issue. For example, it could be she misses you and wants your attention, it could be she feels useless and by selling her ideas to you and not take no for an answer that she feels useful. Or simply she gets some other personal gain out of it.
  • Be loving. Simply saying no or joking about it might be an easy way to deal with the situation but might not solve it in this case. Confront her and try to be vulnerable about how you feel about her behavior towards you. Seeing that her behavior hurts you might wake up a mothers instinct to protect her kid from herself.

In addition

If she accepts your feedback at some point but keeps coming back with new things, it could be good to point out to her it's the behavior pattern that feels to you like she is trying to lead your life. She might otherwise think it's a/the single example and come back with other things.

  • 6
    This sounds like the right viewpoint to me. I'd strongly suggest a family therapist might be able to shed some light on this and possibly suggest better approaches (than the internet at large :-)). Commented Aug 23, 2017 at 21:14

Unfortunately, with family, sometimes the solution is to stop being polite. The great thing about family, though, is that your long association and history of love should help you get past this.

My mom loved to buy me little tchotchkes whenever she felt like it. It was a sweet way of her showing that she cared about me but I eventually had to have a talk with her to say

I'm really glad that you love me and want to show that but I don't have the room in my house to store all of these things so I need you to be aware that you have two options

  • Keep buying them for me and expect that I will (after a short period of time) either pitch them or send them to a resale shop.
  • Stop buying them and send me a photo of it so that we can smile over it quickly and I know you were thinking of me but you don't waste your money and I don't throw away your presents.

There's probably not a way to actually make this stop as you really can't control other people but you can definitely stop throwing your own money after hers and, perhaps, if she realizes that she's wasting her money, she will stop pressuring you to spend your own. You can certainly tell her "if you want to pay for it, go ahead, but I'm not going to spend money on this".

For example, if your mom doesn't give you enough of a gift certificate to actually place an order with the food service, throw the gift certificate away (it's probably digital, so this is metaphorical, but... whatever). When she asks you whether you've used it, explain that you've not used it because it would cost you $X in addition to her $Y gift certificate just to place an order and you don't wish to spend your money on a product you do not want. One of two things will happen - either she'll give you another gift certificate or she'll leave you alone. If she gives you another gift certificate, you can try the product, pan it and tell her that you will never order from them again because you think it's a waste of money.

I would hope that your mom is doing this out of love. She wants to make your life easier or (in the case of the kayak) give you something you can share to increase your time together. In situations like the kayaking one, there's a middle ground - meet her somewhere that has kayak rentals. You get to spend time with her doing something that she enjoys without forking over money for a kayak that you have to store when you're not using it.

So, tell her thank you for her concerns about your time, show that you appreciate that she's trying to help you but firmly (and possibly brusquely) tell her, every time, "No. This is a waste of money and I'm not going to do it".

† This, of course, assumes that your mom has some disposable income she can use for this purpose. Hopefully she's conscientious enough about her money that she won't spend what she can't afford.

  • 2
    I like the comment about the GC, it's a concern I always have when giving one to a specific location/service/etc. I determine what amount would typically buy the product/service for the party(ies) receiving the GC and then add 10-15% to be sure.
    – KevinDTimm
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 14:40
  • 2
    @KevinDTimm I'm the same! If I'm giving a massage gc or something like that, I check what the cost is for the service and include enough for a tip on top.
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 14:59

This is hard with anybody you care about maintaining a relationship with (I assume you do), but especially family because there's so much history.

I haven't had this problem with a parent, but I've dealt with another overly-pushy relative and a couple of close friends. Inspired by something I once read in Miss Manners, I used the following approach, sometimes repeated many times:

Thank you for thinking of me, but I've thought about it and I'm not interested in that.

There are three components here, and they're all important:

  • Acknowledgement. This person thinks she's being helpful and thoughtful, doing you a favor. Even if your own assessment is different, recognize that first. Sometimes being seen as helpful is as or more important to the person than the actual thing (kayaking etc).

  • Due consideration. You're not just saying "no" reflexively; you've given the matter some thought, because this person thought it was important. You have thought about it, at least to the extent of developing responses to the pressure, so this isn't false (though you should keep the details to yourself).

  • No. You're not interested. Be very clear about this. If you offer any "becauses" or "buts", the other person will see that as a problem to be solved instead of a "no". This is why your mother keeps arguing with you -- you're giving her entry points.

For best results, combine this approach with overtures of your own. Maybe you hate kayaking, but maybe you could invite your mother to join you on a bike ride or at a sporting event or the theatre? If she's worried about your meals, maybe invite her over for some home-cooked meals? I've found that sometimes "replacement therapy", so to speak, solves the underlying need.


Find out why she is doing it

I don't think we have enough information about your relationship with the mother to answer your question without potentially damaging your relationship, but if it was me I would try to dig a little deeper.

No mother wakes up in the morning and thinks "today I want to be a royal pain in the arse to my child" so there will be an underlying reason.

  • Maybe she is concerned for your health? The examples given seem health and exercise related. In which case explaining how you choose to keep healthy might work.

  • Maybe she is finding it expensive and wants to find others to bring down the cost (like sharing rental storage space on the kayak).

  • Maybe she just wants shared experiences with you, or something to talk about. In which case you can involve her in something you enjoy doing instead.

It could be these or any one of a thousand other reasons. Don't just shut her down with 'No' - if she wants shared experiences it will only make her feel more alienated from you and doesn't fix the underlying problem - it's like a patient going to a doctor saying 'My leg hurts' so the doctor gives them painkillers, without checking to see if the leg is broken.

This is your mother, not a salesman.

There are reasons that just saying no and refusing to engage is appropriate and effective, but until you know the reason: don't assume. Instead, have an open and honest conversation. Tell her how you feel and try to get to the bottom of it.

  • 2
    My mom has done things (little things) to both my sister and I solely to be a pain in the arse because she thought it would be fun to irritate one of us. Aside from that potentially false assumption, I think this is a pretty good answer.
    – user61524
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 5:59

That's a tough one! I'll try to bring some perspective, at least because I don't have to deal with that issue. Stay strong!

You didn't specify any preferences regarding how you would prefer to solve the issue, and there is no tag regarding avoiding confrontation on the question. I hope it isn't a mistake, as it may be hard to reach both objectives.

Currently, your relationship with her is a war. Her objective is to make you and your wife buy stuff, your objective is to not buy stuff you don't need and she basically uses any weakness on any available occasion to advance her objective. My best explanation for that is that she tries to promote whatever she's into so that she feels validated, that's a common human behaviour.

If that's the case, then you are in it. She defines herself so much by what she does that she perceives her own validation from how many people seem to share her tastes, even if it's as artificial as being forced to subscribe.

More information could be useful to draw a more precise picture, like :

  • How does her husband react?
  • Since when is she doing that?
  • Did something happen that triggered it?
  • Was it always that intense or did it increase progressively over time?
  • Did you try to address it with her did you directly pointed out her behaviour to her as well as the negative effects it has on you?

But from where I stand, I'd say that she has some focus issue, because she's making her own need for validation before your own good and is using you as a tool to reach it. You shouldn't be afraid by starting a confrontation, because it has already been started, by her.

From what you describe, she even has a well-rounded plan:

  • Telling you about something.
  • Asking you to subscribe to/buy it.

And if you decline...

  • Asking you why
  • Countering your arguments
  • Coming back at you with insistence until exhaustion, at which point you declare defeat and buys/subscribes to the damn thing.

From how elaborate it is, and especially given how she seems to be ready for all your arguments, it wouldn't surprise me that she does it to other people as well, maybe to most people you know. I believe you may benefit from asking around about it, maybe you are far from being the only ones to be annoyed by her tactics.

Anyway, her strategy is clear, she defeats you by exhausting your will to say no, she forces you to make the effort of defending your position again and again until you are too tired and back off. That's a war of exhaustion and she wins because she is the only one shooting.

I'm not advising you to do the same to her, as I don't think you'll even want to do it and it will tire you even more.

Instead, drop the fight, don't answer her, let her shoot above your heads.

That's right. When she talks to you about something, take it as is, not as marketing. If she asks you to buy it and you aren't interested, say it. If she insists, respond that you said no. If she insists again, change the topic. If she still tries to come back to it, cease the conversation.

It will quickly become clear to her that the same medium she's using, among other things, to manipulate you into buying stuff is getting less usable the more she tries to make you buy things, she will quickly have to choose between talking to you and your wife with respect or not talking to you at all.


As I understand your question, basically, you don't want to do the things that are being suggested. Not wanting to do something is a good enough reason. In the kayaking example, the reasons for not wanting to go have nothing to do with expense or storage, you just weren't interested in kayaking. This is the only reason you need.

There is a textbook for this problem: When I say no, I feel guilty. The book explains a number of techniques to improve assertiveness in different situations.

The technique I'd use in this instance is called 'Broken Record'.Basically, just remember that 'I don't want to' is a good enough reason, and keep repeating it, with minor variations. "I understand that you enjoy kayaking, but I don't want to", "I realise that it may be quite fun and invigorating, but I don't want to". Keep repeating the 'I don't want to' bit. Up against an impenetrable wall of '... but I don't want to's, even the most determined do-gooder will eventually realise the futility of persisting.


I'd turn the tables. Every time she proposes and pushes her ideas on how to improve your life, propose your ideas to improve hers, 'I'll do it if you do this' type of thing. Personally I'd look for something difficult or inconvenient to follow through, something with some rigmarole. Present it with love & affection, and take no for an answer. If you do it right, you will save yourself a lot of time & heartaches.

  • 5
    -1 for the passive aggressive approach Commented Aug 23, 2017 at 20:27
  • 3
    While this is not a common approach, this may be proven effective against someone who is immune to conventional method. This is also a tactic and strategy in interpersonal relationship. While I don't fully agree with this, I believe this is a valid answer and does not deserve deletion.
    – Vylix
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 18:06
  • 1
    Even if you agree that being passive-aggressive is justified in this case, I don't think this is what OP needs. After all, this way will lead to even more discussion ,which is precisely what OP wants to avoid.
    – sleske
    Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 10:26

In my experience, you need to address the ongoing issue, rather than disputing each suggestion. The following dialogue is taken from a dialogue I had with my aunt, and it is fairly strongly worded:

When she asks a second (or more) time, don't even say yes, no, or give an explanation. Just say:

"You've already asked, and I've already responded. By asking again, you are saying that my feelings and thoughts don't matter. You are also denying my right to live my own life. You are being incredibly rude, and you need to stop right now."

If she tries to respond with anything other than "I'm sorry" or "I'll try," say:

"I won't stand here and be disrespected. I am going to remove you from my life until you apologize."

Then do not respond to any calls or emails until she apologizes.

As I said, this has worked for me in the past with similar situations, and there was only about a month of awkwardness afterward. It may backfire though. Only you know how she would react to something like this.

Maybe even a poor reaction would be a step forward though. Especially if, as you say, the issue has been going on for decades.


I'm very late to the party here. Most of what I can offer has already been said.

If this is driving you as crazy as it would me (it doesn't sound like it, though), I would recommend two things:

Talk to your mother about her childhood, her adulthood, her relationship with her parents and her inlaws, basically every important relationship she had. This overwhelming need to obtain your agreement on matters of some-to-no importance is not normal. Maybe you'll uncover a key in your conversations that will help you figure out why she is the way she is. If you do, it will help you to form a more effective counter to her habitual pressuring.* Or maybe you'll jog her memory for the next step.

Your mother is a woman who projects a very strong front, but it's really not normal (I hope that's not insulting. I certainly don't mean it to be, and I sincerely apologize if I've offended you.) You might talk to your mother - after talking to her about her life experiences - that she might benefit from seeing a therapist.

My guess is that she'll pooh pooh this right off the bat. To that, you can react in one of two ways:

  1. Ask her why not? when she answers you, ask her how would she know unless she tried? Keep doing this for two or three hours until she's somewhat exasperated. Then tell her you're sorry, but this is exactly how she makes you feel. All. The. Time. Maybe it will open her eyes.

  2. Explain that her constant pushing to do things you have no interest in is having a negative effect on your relationship, and though you've put up with it for a long time, you want a more enjoyable relationship with her, one in which she treats you respectfully like an intelligent adult capable of making good decisions. Since you've tried everything you can to convince her that you're able to make up your own mind, but she has trouble respecting that, a good therapist might help her to see why she does this. (This is the tack I'd take.)

Although it sounds drastic, I think there's a deep seated issue here, and unless your mom gets to the root of the problem (which she won't without expert help), other measures, like boundaries (which I firmly believe in) may seem punitive and unloving to her, and while they might get you off the hook, they might hurt your mom in ways you had not anticipated.

I have been where you are. It was absolutely exhausting to me, and was so bad it drove me into therapy! I learned a lot in therapy and so it's on my list of resources. Good luck.

*Here's a shot-in-the-dark kind of example: her parents were very hands off, and she always wished they had taken an interest in her, leaving her feeling unloved. She vowed not to be "that kind of parent". I doubt that's it, but you get the idea.


No is a complete sentence.

After leaving your parents house you no longer answer to them. You and your wife are your own unit. It's your mom's natural tendency to want you to remain part of her life but she must learn to understand that once you've given her your answer you have no obligation to change it.

I'd recommend reading Boundaries and No is a complete sentence.*

Also consider watching this: https://youtu.be/vhG6abrb5bI?t=2m35s

*I haven't read this one personally.

  • "No is a complete sentence." It sounds awfully like you haven't had to deal with this kind of person in this kind of a relationship. If it was this easy I don't think he'd have been asking this question.
    – user541686
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 9:25
  • Actually I have. My own mother at my wedding was trying to convince me on several occasions to get me to do something. I told her nicely the first couple of times then it came down to "No. This is my wedding, I've decided, there's no more to it". Obviously, that's two sentences.
    – Eonasdan
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 13:26

You just have to say "don't do/say ... anymore". Be as clear as you can.
And if it doesn't happen, you need to state what the consequences will be. Otherwise there is no incentive for her to change.

For example, when our children were small and we went to my parent's house, my father never turned on the heater at night, even in the winter. We were in an upstairs bedroom so it got quite cold, even with blankets.

So finally one day I said, point blank, that if he didn't turn on the heater at night, we would not visit with the children anymore.

Well, the heater came on the following night, and there was never any problem after that.


You need to set boundaries and enforce them.

This seems to really frustrate parents but it's a needed step. It's a three part process.

  1. Set a boundary, and be clear about it. "We are not going to talk about foo. Let's move on."

  2. Enforce the boundary. When the boundary is crossed, then "leave". Either by stopping the conversation or by actually leaving. You may have actually really left.

  3. Go back. Even though you left, and that will anger people, this only works when you go back. Yes, you will have to do this several times. But rather you leave the conversation, or the room, or the house. You have to go back and be willing to try again and again.


Ask for reasons. Why is she asking? I guess she wants to do good things.

Ask "why?" several times.

Distinguish between Strategy and a high-level plan. Ask about her intention.

Don't give reasons. Ask for reasons. She is the one who should give reasons.

You should talk less, make small breaks in the conversation. Focus on understanding her needs.

If she is getting loud or angry, then stay relaxed and friendly. She has a problem, not you. She needs love. Don't give any advice.

(some from this source)


Say yes.

Agree to do whatever she wants, and then don't do it. Basically, you're lying. She won't be able to argue against you when you're agreeing with her.

This should only be used as a last resort.

  • 4
    Could you please explain how the OP should say "yes" to buying a kayak, not buy it and then say "yes" to go kayaking... without a kayak?
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 13:59
  • 3
    I'm upvoting this because it's funny, and an interesting wicked approach. :) When she comes back with "what the...?" you can explain to her that you said "yes" because she will never take "no" for an answer; and I bet she'll remember it. Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 16:07
  • 1
    @Catija When OP's mom says to go kayaking, OP could say that he doesn't have a kayak. When she complains, OP says "yes, I'll by one this time"
    – usernumber
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 19:43
  • 1
    @Catija Why would you need a kayak to say the word "yes"? They made it perfectly clear in their answer that the advice was to follow up each "yes" by not doing it.
    – user3573
    Commented Aug 27, 2017 at 22:56
  • 2
    @Thomas I think the idea is you prevent arguments by just agreeing with her. Logic, reason, common sense isn't working. So lie. Keep saying yes; it'll avoid arguments as you're agreeing with her, and it might frustrate her if she realises that you're still not actually doing it but if it's her or you, let it be her.
    – user3573
    Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 23:17

Because some people simply don't listen to your reasoning, it's better to reason it out in a different way. In this case, the mother (or any close relative) is difficult but still requires patience without losing politeness.

The next time she brings the subject, try:

Raise your hand silently (as a sign of asking her for money). If she argues that it's not expensive, reply with "I can't afford it; but seems like it's not expensive for you, so please buy it for me", with a smile.

And the next time you meet her, ask her for money before she brings the subject. Do it several times for some days, then she will probably stop it.


While I haven't had this specific issue with my mother, we have had to deal with some repetitive inappropriate behavior on her part since I became an adult. More often than not, she wasn't even aware that her behavior was inappropriate or rude until it was pointed out to her.

With that in mind, I would use a three step approach for your situation.

  1. I agree with a lot of the previous answers that state you should give a hard 'no' when your mother approaches you with her latest project. She seems to see any explanation you give for why you aren't interested as an excuse to counter. When she approaches you with the next big thing she wants you to get involved in, you should simply give some variation of "no thanks" or "I'm not interested in that" without offering excuses.

  2. If/when your mother pursues the subject after one or two hard no's, I would suggest asking something among the lines of "why do you always do this?" When she asks what you're talking about, explain this behavior of hers. Use the examples you've given here and maybe even more, until she acknowledges it as a pattern of behavior. Then, explain how this makes you feel. This should either lead to a discussion on what her goals are with this behavior and how to better achieve them (or change them to something more reasonable), or a discussion on how she didn't realize she was doing this and how you can help her avoid it in the future.

  3. If your mother continues with this behavior after you've explained your feelings, listened to her reasoning (if any was offered) and discussed that, then you need to start cutting her off. Interrupt her when she starts in on the same subject, remind her you aren't interested, and point out that you've already discussed this behavior. Also point out that her behavior has gone from frustrating to disrespectful, because she has been made aware of your feelings on it. If she doesn't stop, end the conversation until she's willing to discuss the problem or simply change her behavior.


My solution would be similar to BradC's answer with an important addition: Talk to her about the actual communication pattern itself. Tell her that what she is doing is not acceptable, how it makes you feel, and how it is going to make you act. Tell her it makes you not want to talk to her if you are going to have to repeatedly fend off the suggestions you've already refused, and explain that when she fails to accept your answer of "no, and I'm done talking about it" that you really will have to hang up / leave / whatever you need to do to end the conversation, even though you don't want to have to do that. Try to convince her why her behavior is not acceptable, and she needs to learn to respect your No. Even if she won't accept that the behavior is generally unacceptable, the important thing is that it's not acceptable to you.

Possibly, if she can understand your perspective when you explain it, you will not have to get really tough and warn her you'll have to hang up, etc.

The most important thing is to step out of the situation and talk about the situation. There are gentler or firmer ways to have the conversation, but where you need to end up is not just at No on a particular topic, but that her not accepting your No is not acceptable, and whenever she starts doing it with a new topic, reference this conversation instead of starting the whole process of justifying your latest No.


I would also add point to "no" answers that "this is my opinion", mention gently that "yours" and "mine" opinion are the same, as we have same rights and here is no any gender discrimination. She should accept that and answer does she really thinks "her" opinion and "yours" are totally have same weight and equal. Otherwise you can blame in gender discrimination in any other discrimination that is even easier as this is good argument to argue. You should always try to remind who is the owner of your life.

General: "I said no, this is mine opinion I want/don't this ... etc", "I'm a man, I'm not a salty cucumber that is how you wanted to see me/grow me like a real man, so I'm a man and this is what I said".

I, personally, love my parents but I always follow my opinion and completely manage my life, never let them in as soon as I don't leave with them after school years. "Their" management was really enough for me during my school years.


First: remember that "no" is a complete sentence. It seems like you feel like you somehow have to come up with reasons for your actions that she'll accept or be satisfied with, but you're not under any obligation to do so. You are perfectly free to decline her suggestions for any reason (or for no reason), with or without explanation. Obviously, I'm not at all suggesting persistently refusing to explain anything to anyone (most people would consider that pretty obnoxious) - my point is that it's not your responsibility to make sure that she's satisfied that the reasons you don't want to kayak are "good enough" for her. Ultimately, your decision about whether to kayak or not is just that - your decision - and she needs to accept that. Regardless of how convinced she is that she's right, she can't force you to agree with her.

As others have indicated, you may want to practice assertiveness here.

Assertiveness is different than aggressiveness (becoming hostile/angry) or passiveness (just "giving in"). Wikipedia cites the following definition from Dorland's Medical Dictionary:

[Assertiveness is] a form of behavior characterized by a confident declaration or affirmation of a statement without need of proof; this affirms the person's rights or point of view without either aggressively threatening the rights of another (assuming a position of dominance) or submissively permitting another to ignore or deny one's rights or point of view.

Again, remember that you don't have to convince your mother that your decision is correct - it's ultimately your decision whether she agrees with it or not. That being said, there are actually quite a few techniques you can use as part of an assertive conversation (and you can find articles with more details on that later). One that I've used a few times myself is what's known as the broken record technique. This is effective in cases where the other person tries to "bring you off point" (e.g. you try to explain why you don't want to discuss kayaking and she insists on talking about why you should kayak). Just by way of example, a conversation may look something like this:

"You should take up kayaking."
"I'm not really interested in that."
"You should try it - you'll love it as soon as you get on the water."
"I understand that, but I'm really not interested in taking up kayaking."
"It's not expensive - there are payment plans."
"I understand that, but I'm really not interested in taking up kayaking."


Don't become angry or hostile at any point - just firmly "stand your ground" and refuse to engage the tangents.

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