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by Abigail Van Buren

Mom Longs to Have Empty Nest All to Herself Again

DEAR ABBY: I have a 19-year-old daughter, "Caitlin," whom I love very much. Despite a few rocky periods, we have a great relationship.

Caitlin moved in with her fiance shortly after she turned 18, and they were married a few months ago. After she left, I went through an "empty nest" period because it was the first time I was alone in 18 years.

When my daughter started coming to visit once a week, I was thrilled. It was sad when she had to leave, but I looked forward to "our days." Then I had to have surgery, and Caitlin came to take care of me. I have since recovered, but now -- two months later -- she's still visiting every day. She sits around watching TV and wants me to sit with her.

I love spending time with my daughter, but frankly, I need a break! I have tried "hinting" that she has her own house, pets and husband, and it would be fine if she didn't visit every day. It falls on deaf ears.

I don't want to hurt Caitlin's feelings, but I got used to being alone, and I miss it sometimes. How can I get her to stop coming over so often without making her think I don't want her? -- CRAVING SOME SOLITUDE IN ARKANSAS

DEAR CRAVING: It's possible that when you had the surgery your daughter was afraid she would lose you, and now she's having separation anxieties of her own. It's time for a frank talk with her.

It's unusual for a bride to have so much free time on her hands. She should be using at least some of it to build a life of her own. Could there be a problem in her marriage? Her husband can't be thrilled that she's spending so much time at your place. Or does she lack direction?

What's going on isn't healthy for either of you. So speak up and establish some ground rules. If you prefer that she visit only once a week, say so. Your daughter needs to "get a life," and you are entitled to one apart from her.