DEAR ABBY: My daughter "Lulu" moved in with a man I'll call Al a year and a half ago, telling us this was the man she was going to marry and spend the rest of her life with. So my husband and I welcomed him to the family.
They now have a baby, and still there has been no wedding. Al came to us eight months ago to ask our permission to ask Lulu to marry him. We consented. He appears to have had convenient memory loss about asking and -- without going into details -- has proven himself to be extremely self-centered, controlling, and a negative influence on what was once our happy, outgoing daughter.
We now realize that Al is someone we don't care to have in our family, and we'd like to know how (if it's possible) to rescind our blessing on their marriage. -- CHANGED OUR MINDS DOWN SOUTH
DEAR CHANGED OUR MINDS: If I were you, I wouldn't raise the subject of marriage with Al at all. Your daughter's lover appears to be in no hurry to make any trips to the altar. Do, however, "mention" to your daughter that you had hoped she'd find a husband who would cherish her and make her happier than Al seems to have. Be sure to let her know that if she changes her mind about him, you'll welcome her back home with open arms. That way, she'll know she still has a choice.
DEAR ABBY: My problem is that my mother is a control freak. I was raised to respect my parents, but I have just about had it with her controlling ways. She wants to dictate my hair length, color and style, my weight, my love life, what car I drive, what job I have and where I live.
My mother wants me to date only doctors. She has even threatened to cut me out of her will if I "settle" (her word) for someone who doesn't have a medical degree. I was interested in a man who owned his own business, but she made me so miserable that I simply stopped dating.
I want to respect her because she is my mother, and I know she loves me. Can you help me figure out how to get her to back off and let me live my life my way? By the way, I am 41. -- PEACEFUL REBEL IN OHIO
DEAR PEACEFUL REBEL: I'll try. Start by talking with a licensed mental health professional, preferably one who specializes in helping young adults to "individuate" from controlling parents. Once you have a firm grasp of who you are, and what your proper boundaries are, you will be able to confront your mother. After that, you may want to consider relocation, because your mother is off the charts, and she's not likely to change.
DEAR ABBY: I'm planning to host a dinner party next month and invite a few of my friends. I plan for this to be a "girls' night." (We are all between 18 and 23.)
My problem is that most, if not all, of my friends live with their cell phones attached to their ears! As can be expected, most of the calls have to deal with boy drama. I'd like for the evening to be free of all that. How can I politely let my guests know that I'd prefer they don't answer calls at the dinner table? -- POLITE HOSTESS-TO-BE IN TEXAS
DEAR HOSTESS-TO-BE: When you issue the invitations, tell your friends it will be a cell phone-free, ladies-only dinner party. Then, if anyone brings one, you're within your rights to ask her to turn it off, and no one should be offended. (It's called "heading them off at the pass"!)
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-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
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