DEAR HARRIETTE: I feel like I am ready to get married and have kids, but I’m only 19. I am still in college, but I think that is what I’d rather be doing. Most of my family members started their families very young, and I feel like it’s the right thing to do. I know I am young and that’s very discouraged nowadays, and I also know that these are important years for growth and self-discovery. Should I go with my heart and try and start a family after graduation, or should I wait? -- Ready for Marriage
DEAR READY FOR MARRIAGE: It’s good to be clear about your intentions for your life. It’s also wise to consider your circumstances and evaluate the timing of your next steps. If your soul is telling you that you want to make a family now, go a step further and imagine what that looks like. Do you have a partner now? If not, what are the qualities that you want in a spouse? Make a list. Attracting the right person for the life you want to build is important. Your list will help you notice people who fit the profile of someone with shared values and interests.
Since you are still in college, can you focus on completing your studies and mapping out what your work life may become? Most people have to work whether they are single or not. It is smart for you to plot a course for how you can support yourself. If you do marry soon, this plan will also have you poised to help support your family.
There’s nothing wrong with getting married and starting a family when you are young. Set yourself up for success by taking the time to envision your future and doing all you can to enable yourself to make it happen.
DEAR HARRIETTE: How do I set boundaries with my dad who wants to reconnect with me? I am 20 years old, and my mom and dad divorced when I was 2. I was raised by my mom, who told me he was really abusive to her. My mother has been controlling and abusive throughout my life, so I don’t know whether or not to trust my dad because I’ve only heard my mom’s perspective. How do I figure out how much to trust him, and whether I should work to reintroduce him into my life in a healthy way? -- Rediscovering Dad
DEAR REDISCOVERING DAD: Take some time to talk to your dad so you can figure out if his intentions are genuine and whether he’s reformed since your parents' divorce. Eighteen years is a lot of time for someone to grow, so cautiously give him a chance, but set boundaries on the amount of time you talk so that it doesn’t end up taking up too much of your life. In this way, you have a set amount of time and space in which you can get to know him and learn whether or not you see the relationship as something you would like to continue.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)