2012-01-06 / Et Cetera

Dear Abby

Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: A few days ago, my mom told me that if it wasn’t for me, she and my dad would be divorced. She also said that the last few years with my dad have been terrible. I feel so guilty about this, knowing that I’m the reason my parents are unhappy.

I barely slept the night my mom told me this, but actually, it all makes sense. Now I know why my parents yell at me for no reason and why I get in trouble for no reason. Abby, please help me. How do I tell my mom how it made me feel?

FEELS GUILTY

IN GEORGIA

DEAR FEELS GUILTY: Your mother was wrong to say that you are the only reason she and your father have stayed married. They are together for reasons of their own that have little or nothing to do with you. You are not responsible for their unhappiness.

Your parents appear to be under a lot of pressure right now, which may be why their tempers are frayed. Before discussing this with your mother, it might help to talk about what happened with another adult relative you trust. However, if there is no one else, clip this letter, show it to your mother and tell her you wrote it.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 20- year-old woman with a problem I’m not sure how to solve. I am 30 pounds overweight (I have been heavyset my whole life). My mom and I have been walking together for years, talking and enjoying each other’s company as we go.

For a while, we were both losing weight consistently as a result of our walks. But since my parents’ divorce three years ago, Mom has had to work full- time and isn’t able to walk with me as often.

I want to continue walking to lose weight so I can be healthier and feel better about myself. But I feel I will be betraying my mom by not including her. Walking together has been our tradition, so I don’t know how she’ll feel if I continue to walk without her. What should I do?

STEPPING LIGHTLY

DEAR STEPPING LIGHTLY: Get out there and continue walking — with headphones or with friends. Exercise with your mother on weekends if she’s available, and encourage her to do some walking on her own during her lunch hour. The only thing you should NOT do is quit walking because you feel guilty that you and your mother are now on different “paths.”

DEAR ABBY: I have been married to “ Daryl” for 10 years. He has never really hit the mark in what I want — someone who is mature, stable, predictable and has an appropriate perspective on life. Daryl depends on the outside world to make him feel good about himself, and when that doesn’t happen, he drinks and smokes pot.

I love exercise and the outdoors. He doesn’t like hiking. In fact, he’s afraid to challenge himself physically in even the smallest way.

I have to decide whether to stay and “make do” or move on. How do I make that choice? (I’m over 40.)

LOOKING FOR BETTER, LAGUNA HILLS, CALIF.

DEAR LOOKING: Tell your husband what you have told me. That will give him a chance to shape up and at least try to be more of the man you thought you married. (I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt and not assuming you felt you were compromising when you accepted his proposal.) Daryl deserves to spend his life with someone who values him for who he is, not someone who feels she’s “making do.” If it doesn’t work, then you should BOTH move on.

Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

DEAR READERS: Yesterday I printed letters from adults in response to a letter from “Emotionally Abused in California” (Nov. 2), the 15- year-old who felt her mother was treating her unfairly. Today we’ll hear from teenage readers:

DEAR ABBY: I’m a 14-yearold girl. My mom showed me the letter from “Emotionally Abused” and I almost died! Her mom sounds just like mine. I am not allowed to wear clothing that shows too much skin or get into a car with a teenage boy. I don’t have cable TV. I have to do my own laundry, clean my room, cook dinner and hem my own jeans.

Every night our entire family sits down for dinner. My parents always know my plans when I’m out with my friends, and I go to church every Sunday — with the occasional groan. I’m not the perfect daughter, but I’m glad I’m being raised with integrity, responsibility and a whole lot of chores

COOPERATING TEEN IN

NEW JERSEY

DEAR ABBY: From one teen to another: I have heard your same story from friends a thousand times. You’re not being treated like a criminal. Your mom is doing you a huge favor. She’s preparing you for the real world by making you pay for your own things. She’s got high expectations if she thinks you can get through college.

And about your friends, she just wants to know who they are. She’s not telling you no, right? She’s a single mom, and she’s trying to protect you.

You need to be easier on her and try to see things through her eyes. Not everything she does is an attack on you — in fact, it’s the opposite.

FELLOW

CALIFORNIA TEEN

DEAR ABBY: I’m an 18- year-old girl and I have never been in trouble. I attend a private school where modesty is the dress code policy. To pay for tuition to this school, I work every afternoon during the school year and full-time during the summer. I’m expected to pay for my own clothes, cellphone bill and haircuts out of my allowance. If I can’t afford something, I don’t buy it.

As long as I live with my parents, I will abide by their rules. My parents love me very much and have my best interests at heart. “Emotionally Abused” should have respect for her mother and be thankful for the many things she has.

MONTANA TEEN

DEAR ABBY: I’m also a 15- year-old Catholic girl. “Emotionally Abused” should be grateful she can attend church because it means we have religious freedom in our country. She is going to private school, which means her mother loves her enough to put her daughter’s needs ahead of her own. She needs to rethink who is being unreasonable.

TEEN IN FLORIDA

DEAR ABBY: After we read the letter from “Emotionally Abused,” my brother and I were laughing to the point of tears! I would like to say the following to her: Our mom makes my brother (who’s also 15) and me go to church every Sunday AND Wednesday. Mom homeschools us, thus making her teacher, principal and mother all in one. I’ll be 17 in January and I still can’t date.

Mom checks my computer regularly, and I’m not allowed to go to chat rooms. My brother and I have to set the table and eat with her every night. As for visiting Dad, I wish we could see ours every week. Unfortunately, he’s deployed overseas.

In conclusion: DEAL WITH IT! Your mom isn’t being unreasonable; she’s looking out for you. Mothers like yours are few and far between. What hurts you, hurts her. If she didn’t love you, she wouldn’t act the way she does. Abby’s right when she says one day you’ll look back and thank her. My brother and I already thank ours.

LAUGHING SIBS IN

NORTH CAROLINA

DEAR READERS: To read a longer version of this column, go to DearAbby.com.

Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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