DEAR ABBY: I am a very feminine 23-year-old woman who lives at home with my father. I am completely uninterested in getting married or having children now or in the future. I don't believe it's the end of the world to be a woman and not want children, but my dad and my grandmother act as though I'm abnormal. Dad says he blames himself for "failing to raise me right."
He also blames himself for the fact that I'm not interested in guys. The thought of being intimate with a guy is disgusting to me. I identify as mostly asexual, although I have had passing infatuations with women. Dad takes this personally like he is responsible for my desires, or lack thereof. Grandma is worse. She constantly makes excuses to my male friends about how I'm just "not ready yet" and that they should be "patient."
Abby, I know nothing I say will change their minds, but is there something I can do to make them understand they didn't fail? This is who I am. How can I end the guilt trip and keep the peace? -- BORN THIS WAY IN NORTH CAROLINA
DEAR BORN THIS WAY: People who have no sexual feelings are asexual. People who are attracted to members of the same sex are gay, and they, too, are born that way. It has nothing to do with the way they are raised.
You cannot live your life trying to please your father and grandmother, and you have nothing to apologize for. If you need help explaining why you are the way you are, contact PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), an organization that can provide you with literature that will explain it to them. You can find more information at www.pflag.org.
DEAR ABBY: I'm a 37-year-old wife and mother of three. My mother visits us when she's in town during work-related trips, so it's not like she's around all day, thank heavens. But when she's here she constantly corrects my children (ages 8, 14 and 18) and instructs my husband and me how we should spend our money. She also doesn't like it when I swear (which I usually don't do unless she's around) or mention what I think of people she has sent my way who have burned me.
By the time she leaves -- usually four days -- I am so stressed and emotional that I cry at the drop of a hat. I cannot, nor do I want to, continue to have her here when she doesn't respect my rules. I respect her rules when I visit her home.
Obviously, there is much more, but I'm stressed to the max and nearly at the point of being done. Abby, can you give me any pointers to deal with this? -- VISIT OR NOT?
DEAR VISIT OR NOT?: After you have calmed down, and before your mother's next "raid," write her a letter. Explain that while you love her, her visits are taking a significant emotional toll on you. Say she is welcome as long as she refrains from correcting your children because that's your job. Say also that she must stop telling you what to do with your money and correcting your language because you're an adult now. Remind her not to send any more people your way, and why. If she can accept those terms, she'll be welcomed with open arms. Some people need ground rules spelled out for them, and your mother appears to be one of them.
For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)