DEAR ABBY: My 27-year-old daughter just announced her engagement. Now we are having trouble with our relationship. I am shocked and hurt. She has accused me of trying to plan her wedding.
Abby, I give my opinions and ideas only, and certainly don't "insist" on anything. Is this lack of communication normal? We are usually very close. What gives?
She has instructed me to just get information, and she will "decide" whether to use it or not. That's fine with me.
Although the wedding is nine months away, she insists on a guest list -- NOW! Our church holds more than 500, so what is the rush? No, I never expressed my unhappiness to her.
I thought this was supposed to be fun, but I'm both angry and sad. How do I handle this? Please advise me. -- HURT MOM IN WASHINGTON
DEAR HURT MOM: It appears your daughter is trying to establish her independence right at the time you feel you should be closely bonded. Emotions often flare during "rites of passage," which is why etiquette books are such enduring best-sellers.
Don't take your daughter's sudden determination to do it "her way" too personally. Now is the time to back off a little and wait for her to seek your input. Take it from me, the most unwelcome advice in the world is that which is unasked for.
DEAR ABBY: I am 30 years old, the mother of two small children, attending college full time. My boyfriend is 27 and the father of my second child.
I'm looking for work, but it's hard finding a job that allows me to make my classes and have time for my children. My boyfriend paid the rent and helped me take care of the kids, but he recently left me. He said there were too many problems, and he couldn't take the stress anymore.
Abby, I admit he didn't have it easy with me going to school, taking care of the children, studying and trying to look for work. However, when times were hard for him, I didn't run away. I stayed and tried to help him. I even paid the rent and bought food for him out of the little support money I get for my first child. Now that I need him, he says he "needs his space." He wants us to separate until each of us gets our economic problems and personal issues resolved.
I love him, but I feel like a fool for sticking with him through thick and thin only to be cast aside when he's tired of the problems. Do you think I should keep trying to reconcile, or move on? -- BEFUDDLED DOWN SOUTH
DEAR BEFUDDLED: How much can this man love you if he takes off when you and the children need him? Granted, the circumstances were difficult, but a burden shared is only half as heavy.
I cannot make your decision for you; however, you should carefully consider whether you want a man you can't count on.
P.S. Should you choose to move on, don't hesitate to have child support legally established -- you'll need it.
DEAR ABBY: You printed a letter from "Torn in Texas," who was receiving flak from her family because of taking legal means to recover $750 from a sister-in-law who charged calls on "Torn's" cell phone. "Torn's" family said she should just let the money go because the woman is "family."
The next time a family member suggests that the debt be forgiven for "family reasons," "Torn" should say, "I agree that it is a family matter, and the whole family should share in the burden: Your share of the bill is $75."
I'll bet that will shut them up. -- KAREN IN HUNTINGTON BEACH
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
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