DEAR ABBY: I'm a mom of three young adults, a daughter and two sons. The oldest recently married. My youngest is finishing his last two years of college out of state. Three months ago, he met a young lady.
I have tried constantly to be close with all my children, but the youngest has always kept me at bay. He expresses how different we are. Now that he has met this young lady, I think he's trying to push me further away and continue on with her and her mom. It makes me sad because no matter how hard I try to be a good mother and be present, it doesn't work. What do you suggest? — SAD MOM IN MISSISSIPPI
DEAR MOM: Your son is pursuing not only this young lady, but also his independence, which is normal for someone his age, and he may need to separate from you for a while. Back off for now and allow him some space. Whether this college romance will pan out is anyone's guess, so calm down. If possible, concentrate on things other than your empty nest. However, if you are unable to do that, ask your physician or your insurance company to refer you to a licensed psychotherapist to help you get through this.
DEAR ABBY: I lost my schnauzer to diabetes five months ago. He was my best and, really, only friend. I can't get over the guilt for having to euthanize him. I hate myself. I have cried every day since because I feel like I let him down. I have never had to go through this before. It was so traumatic I just can't get over it. Why is this so hard? — BEYOND GRIEF IN UTAH
DEAR BEYOND GRIEF: You have my sympathy. If your dog was suffering and your veterinarian told you the time had come for him to go, you did the right thing. Our beloved pets should run and play rather than suffer. This is so painful because you loved your cherished family member and feel you should have saved him, which, of course, was beyond your power.
Every pet owner faces what you are experiencing when they leave their pet at the Rainbow Bridge. In time, your pain should lessen. But if it persists to the point that it interferes with the rest of your life, consult your veterinarian about joining a grief support group.
DEAR ABBY: My husband of 49 years is fighting me left and right about finding someone to help around our house. He is stubborn. He has tunnel vision and a one-track mind, and he doesn't want anyone to assist him in anything. If I hire someone, he always has a negative comment about that person's workmanship.
He's retired after working 44 years and thinks life will wait for him to complete any task, even if it takes another 49 years. I need help with his "I can handle it" attitude while everything stays on hold until he can get to it. — NEEDS IT YESTERDAY IN MICHIGAN
DEAR NEEDS IT: Give your husband a deadline to either finish a project or hire it done, making clear that if he doesn't do it, you will see it gets done. Then batten down the hatches and be prepared for him not to take the message gracefully.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)