Dear Snarky – My Mother Got On My Computer and Into My Medical Files

Dear Snarky,

I’m so angry at my mother I’ve had to stay at a friend’s house for the last two days. I’m 24 years old and I moved back home after I graduated. I’m employed, have my own health insurance and I’m saving money by living with my mom. My plan was to move out next year. Now, I don’t know what to do.

Earlier this week my mother got on my computer and somehow into my medical portal and read everything in my current medical history. She then proceeded to scream at me about my weight, medication I’m on like birth control and anxiety meds to getting the HPV vaccine when I was 18 and in college.

I can’t even begin to process the huge privacy violation and worse my mom doesn’t think she did anything wrong since I live in her house and that means it’s her “right to know what’s going on.”

I don’t want to even look at her so I can’t imagine how I’m going to go back and live in the same house. How do you think I should handle this?

Signed, Still In Shock

Dear Still In Shock,

Here’s the hard truth – this isn’t the first time your mother has poked around in your private life. I wouldn’t be surprised if every day when you leave for work she’s checking the browser history on your computer. 

So, a part of me thinks you absolutely knew she was invading your privacy (Probably for years.) but we were willing to put up with it until this latest egregious violation when you hit your breaking point. I also think you know what to do but perhaps are hoping I have a response that doesn’t involve some hard choices.

Let’s start with the easy one – changing every single password and I mean every password even for your favorite shopping sites that seem harmless.

Now for the not so easy. You need to move the hell out, as in right now. Find a roommate, pay rent to a friend, couch surf – whatever. Because here’s the deal – if you move back home you are giving your mother permission to carry on as usual. Remember she told you that if you live in her home she believes she has the right to violate your privacy.

So don’t think that because you got mad and stayed at a friend’s house for a couple of days you’ve taught her a lesson. You haven’t. In fact, she’s probably using the time with you out of the house to dig around in your room and see what else she can find.

After you move out you need to set firm boundaries with your mother, redefine your relationship and proceed with caution. I also suggest therapy because I think you’re going to need some help managing/navigating the new life you know you need to create for yourself.


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