DEAR ABBY: My 18-year-old daughter has just graduated from high school. She has now informed me that she's not going on to college, like we had previously discussed, and becomes upset when we try to talk to her. My question is, should we let her make her own decision about this -- and pay for it for the rest of her life -- or continue to push her into some kind of life skill set? -- LIFE SKILLS IN MISSOURI
DEAR LIFE SKILLS: Your daughter may be burned out from studying. Rather than "push" her into doing something she is sure to resent, consider allowing her to take a gap year.
This does not mean it should be spent resting on her laurels or her fanny. She might benefit from getting a job and learning what the real world is like. It would give her time to mature and, after spending a year in a lower-paying job, she may begin to appreciate the wisdom of furthering her education for the financial benefit it brings.
DEAR ABBY: I have had a weight problem all my life. What makes it harder is that I have a sister a year younger who can't gain a pound. She has always been the "hot one" and the center of attention. People she has introduced me to have actually said, "I can't believe you're sisters" instead of "Nice to meet you."
Of course, my sister is married, while I am still single. I hate being around her because I feel like a slug. I'm more physically active than she is, and I eat healthier. I'm not ugly, but I feel that way around her. Do you have any advice on handling this? -- IN HER SHADOW IN MARYLAND
DEAR IN HER SHADOW: For starters, stop comparing yourself to your sister. You are overdue for reviewing your own assets as an individual.
You may not be as "metabolically blessed" as your slender sister, but that doesn't mean you don't have important qualities that she doesn't share. Figure out what those are, "polish" them, and you will discover you are a successful person in your own right.
If you think your not being married is a drawback, it's time you understood that marriage isn't a goal; it is only a beginning. It's a partnership, hopefully a successful one, but it's not a guarantee of success in any area.
DEAR ABBY: My son volunteers teaching classes at a community center and is generous about assisting anyone with anything he is capable of. But when it comes to helping his wife and family, he never has time because he's always helping strangers. I believe his giving should begin at home. How can we get him to see the light? -- DO-GOODER'S MOM
DEAR DO-GOODER'S MOM: While I agree that charity should begin at home, your daughter-in-law should address this with your son, not you. Suggest she begin by asking him why the psychic gratification he receives from helping strangers seems to be greater than what he feels from helping family. His answer should be an interesting jumping-off place for the discussion that ensues. Everybody needs to feel important, and strangers may be more inclined to express their gratitude.