Dear Harlan, What if the problem isn’t with a roommate but with the roommate’s mother? She insists on FaceTime-ing with my daughter’s roommate for very long periods of time, leaving my daughter no privacy in her own room or quiet time to study because their FaceTime conversations are loud. She also stays in their room overnight when she visits. (Weird.) Lastly, she keeps bringing more and more stuff with her each time. The room now is only one-third my daughter’s. My daughter is pretty easygoing and can accept a lot, but it is getting to the point she can’t even move in the room. – Mothering or Smothering
Dear Mothering, You can FaceTime your daughter while her roommate is FaceTime-ing her mom and have a face-to-face time with the mom. But that would be overparenting and just as wrong. Listen, I would love to carry on about this over-involved, privacy-invading, hoarding mom, but I know better. I have no idea what’s happening in this woman’s life. She could be dealing with a family crisis, a personal issue or mental-health challenges. Her daughter might have a history of struggling and is in need of mom’s help. All we know is that your daughter doesn’t like the constant FaceTime sessions, sleepovers and invasive stuff. When I hear “easygoing daughter,” I hear “keeps her feelings a secret and avoids conflict.” These issues all could be minor problems if your daughter addresses them in a kind, caring and direct manner. When your daughter is calm and comfortable, she should have an honest conversation with her roommate. She should start by mentioning that she should have discussed these problems a lot sooner, but felt it was time to be honest. She can politely ask her roommate to use headphones and position the screen in a way that doesn’t violate her privacy when using FaceTime. She can suggest an organization or storage system for all the stuff. And when the roommate’s mom visits, your daughter can stay with a friend. If none of this works, your daughter can live with it or live somewhere else. This roommate’s mom isn’t going anywhere.