DEAR ABBY: I am a 30-year-old woman in a long-distance relationship with an amazing man for more than a year. We visit each other every few months and chat online every night. We're in love and feel we are ready to move on to the next step -- living together.
We live in different countries. He is much more established in his country and very close to his family. I am in a temporary job, and while I care for my family very much, there really isn't anything to tie me here. It makes more sense for me to move there. (It's a five-hour plane ride from here.)
My family, especially my parents, are making me feel extremely guilty about even considering this move. They say I am "abandoning" them, and ask how could I live with myself if something ever happened?
Abby, my parents are in their early 50s and in excellent health. My two sisters live near them. I fail to see why I am getting so much grief, when I just want to move on to the next stage of my life. Any advice? -- PULLED IN TWO DIRECTIONS
DEAR PULLED IN TWO: Your parents are anxious because even at 30, you are still their child, and they are experiencing separation anxiety. However, at your age, you should be mature enough to decide your future.
I do have a word of advice I hope you'll consider: Before you commit to leaving the United States to join your boyfriend, please do some research on the rights of women in his country. Here in the U.S. we enjoy many privileges that are not shared by women outside our borders. They concern marriage, divorce, division of property and child custody. It is important that if you choose to marry him, you do it with your eyes wide open. That way there will be no surprises.
DEAR ABBY: My adult son, "Jake," is in prison for the fourth time for an indiscretion in his early 20s. He hasn't repeated the offense, but he doesn't comply with the rules of his probation and ends up back in prison. I fully supported my son when the incident happened because I felt he got a bad break, but I feel he should take responsibility for his actions.
Jake's repeated offenses for noncompliance are part of a rebellious and stubborn attitude and an unwillingness to accept the lifelong consequences of his initial offense. To compound the issue, he has three daughters. He keeps popping in and out of their lives, which is very disruptive. If it weren't for them, I'd probably write him off (I have done that emotionally anyway), but I keep trying to maintain some kind of connection between them in case he comes around someday.
Is this foolish thinking on my part? By the way, my son never married the girls' mother and has never paid child support, but she has still been willing to let him be part of their lives. -- WRITING HIM OFF IN ILLINOIS
DEAR WRITING HIM OFF: If you're asking me for permission to take yourself out of the equation, you have it. It is not your job to maintain Jake's relationship with his daughters -- that's his responsibility. If the mother of the girls is willing to tolerate his irresponsibility, that is her choice. But if you have had enough, then it's time to take a step backward.
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