DEAR ABBY: I'm in my early 40s. I studied marketing and merchandising in college, but after graduation I chose to work in the family business. I married young, and my father hired my first husband so he could one day take over because I wasn't considered "man" enough to carry on this third-generation business.
I have spent the last 22 years learning this business inside and out. The employees respect me, and I have also gained respect within our industry. Although the number of women is still small, more and more women are involving themselves in this and related fields.
My day-in/day-out misery comes from my father. He is 72 and still works every day. He is old school. No matter how much money I make for this company or how much respect I gain from others, he will never acknowledge it. He constantly argues with me, and when he knows he's wrong, he walks out of the room. If I hear, "I have been doing this longer than you have" once more, I'll scream.
I would like to move on with my life -- meaning, get a new career. But being an only child in a family business that started in the 1920s, I feel trapped.
My ex- still works here, which is the company joke and the talk of the town. My birthday was last week, and Dad did not even wish me a happy birthday. Pretty sad for a man with one child he sees every day.
How can I find the strength to get on with my life? -- RUNNING OUT OF AIR
DEAR RUNNING: It shouldn't be difficult; consider the alternative. Your father will stay exactly where he is until he becomes incapacitated or dies -- whichever comes first. You have not once mentioned a succession plan that includes you.
If you want to wind up working for the "company joke," stay where you are. If not, put out some feelers regarding opportunities in your industry. You say you are respected. You might be pleasantly surprised to find there are some attractive options.