How can I tell my mom I don’t like “surprise” visits?

Your Life
Dr. Gelasia Marquez
April, 2014

My mom “surprised” me by flying in for a visit. I had other plans for that weekend, and her unannounced trip really threw a monkey wrench into them. How can I prevent this from happening again without making her feel rejected?

Regrettably, some parents have difficulty understanding that their adult children have the right to live their own lives and make their own plans – and they must be respected. There are two possible reactions to this situation, and both have merits.

The first reaction might consist of receiving your mom with the love and respect she deserves, then engaging in a conversation in which you discuss how important it is to you as an adult to have your own plans, responsibilities and schedule. You can emphasize that you would rather communicate about plans than be surprised. This allows you to turn the annoyance of this situation into an opportunity to raise the level of understanding between you.

The second reaction (which does not necessarily exclude the first) is to incorporate your mother into your weekend plans and appreciate your time together. Remember the words of Leviticus 19:3, “Each of you revere your mother and father.”


Dr. Gelasia Marquez is a psychologist and family counselor.