DEAR ABBY: My 18-year-old son, "Josh," has been dating a 20-year-old girl, "Jessica," for about 10 months. Josh graduated from high school in June and left for the Army three weeks later. Just before he left, Jessica's mother gave him the family engagement ring, in case he "wanted to use it" before he went.
Josh's father and I were very upset. We talked and talked, and finally convinced our son that he doesn't know Jessica well enough to marry her, and he has no idea where his commitment to the Army will lead him. Besides, he is simply too young to marry. Finally, after four days of emotional turmoil, Josh returned the ring to Jessica's mother.
My son now informs us that Jessica and her mother are fixing up the basement of their home for him when he comes home on leave.
There is no end to this woman's presumptuousness. The extent to which she is going in order to snag my son for her daughter is making me ill. I have written to Josh expressing my feelings, but it hasn't helped. He plans to stay at their home when he returns. My husband says to let him go, but I am hurt and frightened. What can I do? -- ILL IN PA.
DEAR ILL: Remind Josh that marriage is far too serious a commitment for a fellow his age. Most young men that age are in no great rush to get married, although they do get involved in some romantic encounters. Trying to come between the two will only drive them into each other's arms.
Let Josh know that true love is patient and can wait, and help him recognize the mother's actions for what they are -- manipulation.