Dear Abby

Hard Working Freshman Is Adrift in a Sea of Partyers

DEAR ABBY: My daughter, "Christie," just started her freshman year in college. She's a little overwhelmed and trying to adjust. She is smart, focused and mature.

Christie's biggest problem is it seems that all the other students in her dorm want to do is party. They buy alcohol with fake IDs and sneak it in.

Christie has told the others that she's not a partyer, and has been focusing on her work while her roommate and suitemates drink and miss classes. This makes my daughter not only unhappy, but also feel isolated. I talk to her every day to reassure her that she will find "her" group of friends. Is there anything else I could advise? -- CHRISTIE'S MOM

DEAR MOM: Christie's problem will eventually resolve itself because students who spend their time drinking, partying and cutting class often find themselves kicked out of school. But I'd rather see her do something to help herself in the near term.

Suggest to your daughter that she talk with the resident assistant in her dorm about finding other, more serious students with whom she can room. She should also ask her professors if they know of any study groups she can join.

Christie sounds like a real winner. She should not feel like an oddball for wanting to make the most of her college education.

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DEAR ABBY: I was a lonely widow for many years until I met "Carl." We married two years ago, but separated after two weeks.

Afterward, my daughter, "Gail," and her husband, "Don," and their two kids lived with me for 18 months. I was the only one working. Gail helped a little around the house, but Don wouldn't even mow the grass.

During that time I had two heart attacks and an angioplasty. Two weeks before my first heart attack, Gail and I had a terrible fight, and the police were called.

When Carl heard about the heart attack (I sent him a copy of the bill), he called to check on me. Don told him it was "nothing." He said I made it all up, and I was "fine." My doctor said if I hadn't come in during the second heart attack and had the angioplasty, I would not have survived.

A month after the angioplasty, Gail, Don and I had another terrible fight. Gail punched me several times, and I hit her back at least twice. The police made them move out that same night. I don't regret them leaving. They acted like my house belonged to them and I was their slave. I do miss my grandchildren, though.

Carl and I have reconciled, and now we realize that Don went out of his way to create problems between us. I have not spoken to him or my daughter since. My sons, my friends and my neighbors have all told me they are relieved the two of them are gone.

What is your opinion of a 25-year-old daughter who would hit her mother because her mother wanted her own life? -- RELIEVED IN KANSAS

DEAR RELIEVED: Several things occur to me. What you have described is blatant elder abuse. But I wonder where your daughter learned that violence was acceptable behavior. Frankly, I am concerned for her children's safety.

For your own safety, do not allow yourself to be lured into Gail's proximity, because she has already shown she will damage you physically, emotionally and financially. Because you can't fix what's wrong with your daughter, it's important to keep your distance.

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TO MY JEWISH READERS: Sundown marks the beginning of Yom Kippur, the day of atonement. During this 24-hour period, observant Jewish people fast, engage in reflection and prayer, and formally repent for any sin that might have been committed during the previous Hebrew year. To all of you -- may your fast be an easy one.

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