DEAR ABBY: I'm almost 20. I have a well-paying job and live with my mother in a small town. My issue is I don't know how to break away from her.
My older siblings still live here, too. They don't help pay rent, utilities, groceries or anything. Mom and I pay for everything in a house of six people. My boyfriend and I have discussed living together, but I don't know how I will ever be able to leave. No one else helps Mom, and I don't want her to lose the house.
I know the solution is "everyone will have to pay their way." But they don't, and Mom won't enforce it. I want to help her because she's my mother, but I have my own life and I can't stay here forever.
How should I approach this with her? I don't want there to be bad feelings. I don't know if I'm selfish wanting to move in with my boyfriend, but I want a life of my own. -- STUCK IN THE WEST
DEAR STUCK: If your mother can't keep her house on her own, there are serious problems ahead for her. If she doesn't have the income to afford it, she may have to find a job or sell it.
It should not be your responsibility to support the family. Your siblings aren't contributing to the household because your mother has been enabling them to avoid it. Have a private conversation with her. Tell her you plan to move out, so you are giving her plenty of notice and a departure date.
I caution you, however, against moving in with your boyfriend if it's because of a desire to escape this unfair situation. It would be better for you to be economically independent and have experienced living on your own before moving in with anyone. That way, you will be less vulnerable should the romance not work out as envisioned, because not all of them do.