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Unemployed Eldest Child Feels Trapped in Parents' Basement

DEAR ABBY: I am a young adult, the eldest of four children. I sleep in a basement (furnished and livable), which serves as my bedroom. I have no job, no driver's license, no friends who live close by.

I try to make my family happy, despite being underappreciated by my parents and siblings. No matter how often I clean the house, take the blame when I have done nothing wrong or try to be social and see eye to eye, I spend many nights crying like a baby in the inky darkness. A few times I have felt so down I have wanted to end my life.

I found an opportunity to get the training I need to accomplish the first half of my dream, and being a chef would help me earn the money I need to make the other half of my dream a reality. The thing is, I'm required to live on the property of the school.

I tried running away once and had to come back. I don't want my parents to think I'm trying to run away from them again, but we don't communicate well. How can I get them to see I'm trying to move toward my goal instead of severing family bonds? -- BABY OF THE BASEMENT

DEAR BABY: I don't know how old you were when you ran away, but if you are close to 18 or older, then finding a way to be self-supporting should be your priority. Family bonds are supposed to be bonds of love, not chains that prevent a person from achieving his or her potential. If you can't explain this to your parents, then you should enlist the help of another adult -- a family friend or a relative -- to help them understand that getting the training or certification you need for a career isn't severing anything, but is to everyone's advantage.

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