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Mom Happily Sent 'Difficult Daughter' Far, Far Away

DEAR ABBY: I grew up in a poor family on a farm in the South. I worked very hard during my childhood. Throughout my childhood, I was told I was a "bad girl" who always did the wrong things or who would never stop talking. When I was 16, I moved more than 1,000 miles away. My mother happily drove me to the airport to go and live with my 21-year-old boyfriend.

I am 29 now and still live more than 1,000 miles away. To this day, when I try to discuss (with my mother) why she sent me away so young, she tells me I was "too difficult of a child" and that was what I wanted, so she signed me over at the end of 10th grade before summer break. I will never forget how happy she was to drop me off at the airport.

I wasn't the greatest child, I know. I know I was bad. Can 16-year-olds choose where and with whom they live? Or should the parents make those decisions? Please help me. -- LOST AND LONELY

DEAR LOST AND LONELY: It's a shame that when babies emerge they don't bring with them a set of detailed instructions. You appear to be the daughter of a woman who didn't know how to be a good mother.

Children who receive positive reinforcement for good behavior are usually better behaved than those who have it drilled into them from a young age that they are "bad." When that happens, a child begins to believe what the parent is saying and act on it.

While some 16-year-olds are mature enough to decide where and with whom they want to live, it is usually with a relative or qualified guardian and not a boyfriend. However, from reading your letter, I can't escape the feeling that what's really bothering you is the idea that, by giving in to your wishes, your mother rejected you. To work that through, you may need the help of a licensed therapist.

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