DEAR ABBY: I'm writing about a delicate problem with my father. I'm 22 and due to graduate from college in just a few months. I've always planned on moving out once I graduated and got a job, and I have made this clear to my father and my family. My father, however, is in serious denial about it, and it is only getting worse.
At first, he would talk about things as though I would still be around, such as fixing up my bedroom. Recently he has begun saying straight-out that he believes I'll be living here for years to come.
Everyone tells me not to let his problems become mine, but that's difficult. I'm all the family he has left. He has spent his life taking care of me, and I feel I owe him something. However, I don't believe I owe him my life, and I need to move on.
For more reasons than I can begin to explain, I can't bear living here anymore. But my father is dependent on me and refuses any psychological help whatsoever, which I know he desperately needs.
I can't imagine what he's going to do when I do manage to leave. I don't know how I can get on with my life, living with the guilt of what does happen (even if he doesn't do anything desperate, guilt trips are his specialty). Your advice would be greatly appreciated. -- READY FOR LIFE IN MICHIGAN
DEAR READY FOR LIFE: Perhaps your father is having trouble believing you'll be leaving because you have been at home for so long. Whatever his reasons, growing up and becoming independent is normal, and you shouldn't feel guilty. If he tries to lay a guilt trip on you, refuse to take the bait.
Family counseling could be helpful for both of you. Get a referral from your physician. If your father refuses to go with you, go alone. You'll gain the insight to deal with him.