DEAR ABBY: My two children and I have lived with my parents for a few years because I had some health problems. Now that I am healthy again, I'm ready to return to work and move to a new home, but I am encountering severe resistance from my parents.
As I have recovered, our situation has gone from my parents helping me to my assuming the majority of the household responsibilities. My parents say they know I want to go back to work and know it will be good for me to be independent, but because of their own health concerns they need me to stay. I have always felt a strong responsibility toward my family, but I know that not having a home to call our own limits the personal growth of my children and me.
I have been offered a great job in another state that would allow me to provide well for my children, but I feel crushing guilt for even considering leaving my parents to fend for themselves. I know this will be a life-changing decision for all of us, so please give me an objective point of view. -- DAD TORN IN TWO DIRECTIONS IN TEXAS
DEAR DAD: On an emotional level, of course your leaving will be traumatic for your parents. They will miss you and the children and all the activity in the house they have become used to. Also, someone may have to assume the household chores that you have been taking care of.
If you accept this job -- and in my opinion you should if you can't find one that pays as well closer to your parents -- perhaps you could subsidize a housekeeper, a cleaning company or someone to help with the yard work a few times a month.
DEAR ABBY: I have been married to "Sean" for five years. I am 27, stand 5 feet 7 inches tall and weigh 120 pounds. Sean is constantly pushing me to exercise more, and he comments on my thighs and stomach a lot. He tells me it's not a weight issue, but I need to "work off some fat and gain more muscle." He wasn't like this when we got married.
I love my body, and I know I'm not fat or overweight. I walk 4 miles round trip to work. My entire workday is spent on my feet, walking or running. I get plenty of exercise, and I'm healthy and active.
This is really hurting my confidence. It bothers me to hear that someone I love thinks my normal body is unattractive because of barely there "fat." I don't know what gave Sean this idea. How do I deal with it? -- JUST RIGHT IN ARIZONA
DEAR JUST RIGHT: The kind of body your husband would like you to have seems more descriptive of a skinny teenager than a healthy young woman. Is he a body builder or a gym rat? You deal with it by asking your husband why he thinks your normal body is unattractive, listen carefully to his response and, if necessary, run it by your doctor.
DEAR ABBY: I was wondering if a woman can be considered engaged to a man if she is still married to another man, but separated?
I have a friend who has been separated from her husband for two years. They live apart, but not "legally." Can she be considered engaged? Wouldn't her ring be a promise ring and not an engagement ring? Please help me clear up this confusion. -- CONFOUNDED IN WEST VIRGINIA
DEAR CONFOUNDED: To declare oneself engaged while legally married to another person does appear to be premature. However, your friend can call herself whatever she wants if it pleases her. The same is true for what she calls the rock she's wearing. If you value her friendship, you'll let it slide and don't contradict her.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)