DEAR ABBY: I'm 29 and for 10 years I have been struggling with controlling parents. They have cut two of my sisters out of their lives because they live closer to their spouses' parents.
My husband and I are full-time students, ex-military and taking advantage of the G.I. Bill. We're looking for jobs, but my parents have threatened not to speak to me if we take jobs closer to his parents. I'm trying to be fair to both sets of parents, but we can't stay unemployed because of this issue. We have a family to support.
I tried reasoning with them, but I'm unsure how to proceed. Dad called and offered my husband a job in my hometown. We declined because if we accept, they will expect us to live near them. Please tell me what to do. I don't want my family to fall apart any more than it already has. -- SMOTHERED IN THE SOUTH
DEAR SMOTHERED: If you feel smothered now, imagine how it would be if you and your husband were economically dependent on your parents. No part of your lives would be separate from them, and you would be completely under their control. Holding the family together is not your responsibility, and you should not sacrifice your independence in an attempt to do so.
Your parents' emotional blackmail has already driven away two of your sisters and their families. I assume you have relationships with your siblings. I'm advising you to maintain them and live your own lives. With time, your parents may realize they haven't isolated their children; they have isolated only themselves.