DEAR ABBY: My daughter is a 19-year-old college sophomore who is studying to become a teacher. Her longtime boyfriend, "Arnie," is a 21-year-old part-time student who works and goes to college. He has not chosen a major yet.
Abby, Arnie is a fine young man who loves my daughter, but he doesn't have much direction and hasn't given much thought to the future. He has received little guidance from his parents, who don't seem to care if he graduates from college or not. His siblings went to work straight out of high school.
This concerns me because my husband is a successful businessman, and our family has a very nice lifestyle. We drive new cars, go on nice vacations and are putting our three children through college. I know if my daughter marries Arnie, they probably will never be able to afford the lifestyle she is accustomed to.
Should I express my concerns to my daughter, and try to give Arnie some advice, or mind my own business? -- A LOVING MOM
DEAR MOM: By all means express your concerns to your daughter, if you can do so without alienating her and Arnie. Do not, however, speak to the young man about his perceived shortcomings; your daughter should do that if she feels his lack of ambition is a problem.
It's fine to offer advice to your daughter if you leave it up to her to follow or discount it. But if you alienate Arnie, it might unite them in the face of adversity.
DEAR ABBY: I have a great marriage and a group of close friends. We spend a lot of time together, as couples and individually, and have a great time.
One of the friends in my group is a single male. He is unhappy about the situation, but he's too shy to seek out a relationship, too proud to let his friends introduce him to a woman, and too private to discuss his feelings in depth. However, I know that he feels self-conscious as the only "unattached" member of the group. How can I help my friend? -- CONCERNED FRIEND IN BERKELEY
DEAR CONCERNED: Bless you for wanting to help. In an active college community like Berkeley, there are many single women available. Be subtle about it, but include a few "singles" along with your friend in some of your group activities and let nature take its course. If something develops -- you'll get an "A" in chemistry.
DEAR ABBY: This is a thank-you note. For many years, I have found your column to be terrific and insightful. The questions, problems and solutions you have offered have helped me throughout my life in relationships, marriage and the raising of two fine children, as well as in business.
I have read your column since I was 14 years old, and as I approach my 50th birthday, and my wife and I near our 25th anniversary, it seemed a good idea to let you know that you've had a positive impact.
Sometimes it's been years before your advice has come in handy, but I am grateful to have had your wise counsel in advance of the problems.
Abby, in the school of life, you're been a great educator. -- STEVE SAETA, CAMARILLO, CALIF.
DEAR STEVE: Thank you! I, too, was a student once, and we all learn from others more experienced than ourselves.
Abby shares her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "Abby's More Favorite Recipes." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 per booklet ($4.50 each in Canada) to: Dear Abby Cookbooklets I and II, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included in price.)
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