DEAR ABBY: I'm writing about a delicate problem with my father. I'm 22 and due to graduate from college in just a few months. I've always planned on moving out once I graduated and got a job, and I have made this clear to my father and my family. My father, however, is in serious denial about it, and it is only getting worse.
At first, he would talk about things as though I would still be around, such as fixing up my bedroom. Recently he has begun saying straight-out that he believes I'll be living here for years to come.
Everyone tells me not to let his problems become mine, but that's difficult. I'm all the family he has left. He has spent his life taking care of me, and I feel I owe him something. However, I don't believe I owe him my life, and I need to move on.
For more reasons than I can begin to explain, I can't bear living here anymore. But my father is dependent on me and refuses any psychological help whatsoever, which I know he desperately needs.
I can't imagine what he's going to do when I do manage to leave. I don't know how I can get on with my life, living with the guilt of what does happen (even if he doesn't do anything desperate, guilt trips are his specialty). Your advice would be greatly appreciated. -- READY FOR LIFE IN MICHIGAN
DEAR READY FOR LIFE: Perhaps your father is having trouble believing you'll be leaving because you have been at home for so long. Whatever his reasons, growing up and becoming independent is normal, and you shouldn't feel guilty. If he tries to lay a guilt trip on you, refuse to take the bait.
Family counseling could be helpful for both of you. Get a referral from your physician. If your father refuses to go with you, go alone. You'll gain the insight to deal with him.
DEAR ABBY: While I usually agree with your answers, I respectfully disagree with your advice to "Anonymous in Michigan," who had been sent an inexpensive invitation to a family member's wedding whereas, the writer believed, others had received an embossed invitation. You counseled that the appropriate response to this supposed slight might be not to attend the wedding.
Abby, maybe that couple was short on funds; perhaps the invitation maker made an error and sent them fewer than they had ordered. Could it be that, being short of the "official" invitations, they sent the more casual ones to those they assumed had priorities other than the type of invitation they receive?
The bride and groom have hundreds of details to deal with, and the last thing they need is an angry relative. My advice to "Anonymous" would be to send them a nice present, go to the wedding, enjoy two slices of wedding cake and dance long into the night. -- KAREN DE CROW, ATTORNEY AT LAW, JAMESVILLE, N.Y.
DEAR KAREN: While I agree that it would be better if the writer had been magnanimous (defined in my Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary as "loftiness of spirit enabling one to bear trouble calmly, to disdain meanness and pettiness"), it was clear from the letter that the person's nose was seriously out of joint. The implication received along with the computer-generated invitation was that they had not been invited until someone had refused. And that's the reason I said, "FEELING AS YOU DO (italics are mine), send the couple a lovely card wishing them every happiness and forgo attending the wedding."
DEAR ABBY: Are America's drivers totally out of control, or am I getting crochety at age 56? Their behavior behind the wheel is deadly at the worst, and scary to say the least.
Seat belts and air bags do not guarantee survival in a crash. Didn't these drivers once know all the road rules so they could pass the driver's test?
Almost daily, I see drivers ignoring emergency vehicles, running red lights, jumping green lights, following too close, changing lanes into a space not long enough to parallel park, exceeding speed limits by at least 15 mph, blocking intersections, changing lanes and entering highways without looking or signaling, and crossing solid yellow and white lines.
The driver who zips through one to five lanes to a freeway exit usually lives in that same county, and should know to get in the proper lane long before the exit. The driver behind me is dangerously close if I cannot see the car's headlights (regular-sized car) or the bumper (SUV/truck) in my rearview mirror.
Driving is a privilege -- not a right. -- DIANE LAZARUS, CINCINNATI
DEAR DIANE: Right you are. The dangers you have listed result from irresponsibility, a sense of entitlement and just plain rudeness. Add to that people driving drunk, and you have a surefire recipe for disaster. That's why it's important to urge loved ones to drive courteously -- and defensively.
DEAR ABBY: My name is Lindsay, and I recently turned 14. I wanted to go to the mall with this guy who is 16, but my mom said not until I am 16. She said I can go out with groups when I am 14 and 15 -- but I can't go out with guys even if I'm not really dating them.
I feel she doesn't trust me because I really like to hang out with my guy friend, but she obviously has a problem with it. I think it might be because my older sister had a baby at 17. When I asked her, she said that wasn't it.
I need to know how to get my mother to let me go out so I can have some fun in my life and not feel I'm being imprisoned. Please help. -- PRISONER AT 14
DEAR 14: Trust is built on confidence, and it takes time to build confidence. Your mother may seem overly protective to you, but she's only doing what many parents do these days. She wants you to have the protection of being in a group.
One way to increase your mother's level of confidence in you is by volunteering information about what you are doing and confiding in her. And when you are asked to do something, instead of complaining about it -- do it. Don't make excuses. Perform like a mature adult and try to see things from her perspective, and you'll earn your mother's respect. She's a wise and caring parent, and she deserves it.
DEAR ABBY: I should have taken your advice. About 40 or 45 years ago, I asked you about my wife having "hang-ups" with intimacy. You advised me to go to a psychiatrist, but at the time I couldn't afford it. I should have taken your advice, Abby. It would have been worth it.
Six years ago we finally did go to a psychologist, and in time, our problem was resolved and life began at 70. -- GRATEFUL IN LAKE WALES, FLA.
DEAR GRATEFUL: I'm pleased that my advice was helpful. Better late than never.
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