DEAR ABBY: Parents frequently write to you asking for advice about their children, seemingly asking permission to butt in where they should not.
When I was in my 20s, I dated a guy who had just returned from the Navy. I saw him -- and others -- while working and going to college. Sometimes I'd drive 40 miles to visit him and stay with my mother. At some point, he told me we wouldn't be seeing each other anymore. He doesn't remember the details of the conversation, and neither do I. I liked him very much and may have been in love.
I found out years later that my mother had called him to her house and told him to marry me or let me go. We were both young and not ready for marriage. I have no idea what possessed her to do that. Sometimes I wish I had talked with her about it, but it wouldn't have changed anything.
He and I have visited a few times during the past few years. We both married wonderful people, had kids, and have had good lives. Yet there has always been the question: What if Mom had not interfered?
Abby, please advise parents to mind their own business, especially where adult children are involved. -- FIFTY YEARS WONDERING
DEAR F.Y.W.: Whether that romance would have led to marriage had your mother stayed out of it, I can't guess and neither can you. Fortunately, you and the young man went on to have happy lives and successful marriages.
Some mothers can't resist the temptation to interfere in their adult children's lives. Today, when it is constant, it's called "helicopter parenting," and the unfortunate result can be disabling rather than helping because it prevents children from resolving their own issues.