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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My daughter is in her early 20s. When she was younger, she was happy. She socialized, had friends and had fun. She has had several boyfriends, but unfortunately, nothing that panned out.

She feels the only way to be comfortable or worth anything is to have a guy by her side. I think she goes about it in the wrong way. She has few friends now and rarely goes anywhere other than work. She experiences periods of depression and says she is afraid of being rejected, which holds her back from socializing. I try to encourage her to step out of her comfort zone and experience life, but she gets defensive and thinks I am saying it to be mean, when I am offering her something of value.

Abby, I do it out of care and love. I don't know how else to help her. I'm very worried about her. I'm afraid if she doesn't change her lifestyle, the situation will become worse, and she will regret it. These should be some of the best years of her life. Can you offer any suggestions to help her through these dark times? -- MOM WHO'S WORRIED IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR MOM: I do have one. The most important step a person can take to solve a problem is to admit there is one. Pointing out that someone seems depressed and isolated isn't mean; it's what caring parents (or friends) do when they see someone they care about is in trouble. When advising your daughter, make sure your tone is perceived as loving and not judgmental. Then point out that the quickest way for her to get her life back on track would be to talk to a licensed mental health professional.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Mental Health | Love & Dating

DEAR ABBY: I got married while stationed in Korea. Over the years, I put drugs and alcohol and friends before my family. I regret it to this day.

I have four children and two of them are from the same woman. My oldest son and I chat almost daily through Messenger. This is the first time since retirement that I have been this far away from them.

My daughter and youngest son don't communicate with me in any fashion. I have sent text messages to both of them but received no reply. I learned a couple of days ago that my daughter has been married almost three years.

I miss my family dearly and wish to talk to both of them. Is it hatred and unforgiveness that I am feeling from them? It tears me up inside. I would feel better with any type of reply. What else can I do? -- REACHING OUT IN ILLINOIS

DEAR REACHING OUT: There is nothing more you can do to get a response from your daughter and youngest son. You placed drugs, alcohol and friends before them when they were young, and this is the predictable response to emotional neglect.

Not knowing them, I can't say for certain that they "hate" you. They do, however, appear to be indifferent and unforgiving, and have moved on with their lives. You don't have much choice but to accept it and move on with your own while appreciating the relationship you have with your oldest son.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Addiction | Aging

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