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by Abigail Van Buren

Mom Uses Illness to Compete With Girl for Son's Attention

DEAR ABBY: I'm 18 and my boyfriend, "Jordan," is 17. We have been together a year and a half and rarely fight. There is only one problem in our relationship -- his mother.

"Martha" has lupus and uses it to manipulate Jordan. When we plan dates, she'll tell him she feels sick and make him stay home to take care of her. As soon as the date is canceled, she's miraculously better. She complains that he doesn't spend enough time with her and lays guilt on him because she "could die any day," but says these things only when I'm around.

I don't believe that at 17 my boyfriend deserves the stress she puts on us, but I'm not sure what to do about it. Can you help me? -- STRESSED TEENS IN THE SOUTH

DEAR STRESSED TEENS: There is nothing you can do about it, so accept that as long as you're involved with Jordan, his mother is part of the package deal.

In another year your boyfriend will be legally an adult and able to decide if he wants to stay at home taking care of his mother, or leave to pursue his education or go to work. From your description, the family dynamics do not appear to be healthy. But if you're smart, you will not involve yourself in them. A girl who competes with her boyfriend's mother rarely wins that battle, so remember that.