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DEAR ABBY: I'm 29 and for 10 years I have been struggling with controlling parents. They have cut two of my sisters out of their lives because they live closer to their spouses' parents.
My husband and I are full-time students, ex-military and taking advantage of the G.I. Bill. We're looking for jobs, but my parents have threatened not to speak to me if we take jobs closer to his parents. I'm trying to be fair to both sets of parents, but we can't stay unemployed because of this issue. We have a family to support.
I tried reasoning with them, but I'm unsure how to proceed. Dad called and offered my husband a job in my hometown. We declined because if we accept, they will expect us to live near them. Please tell me what to do. I don't want my family to fall apart any more than it already has.
- Smothered in the South
DEAR SMOTHERED: If you feel smothered now, imagine how it would be if you and your husband were economically dependent on your parents. No part of your lives would be separate from them, and you would be completely under their control. Holding the family together is not your responsibility, and you should not sacrifice your independence in an attempt to do so.
Your parents' emotional blackmail has already driven away two of your sisters and their families. I assume you have relationships with your siblings. I'm advising you to maintain them and live your own lives. With time, your parents may realize they haven't isolated their children; they have isolated only themselves.
DEAR ABBY: Today I saw a former classmate I hadn't seen in 22 years. He always seemed a little slow and different from the rest of us, and he was picked on at school because of it. When I said hello to him and reminded him of my name and that we went to school together, he said, "You danced with me at prom, and I always thought that was so nice!" I had forgotten that I had danced with him, but obviously, the fact that I did meant something to him.
My parents raised me to be nice to everyone, even if they weren't in my circle of friends. I'm not claiming that I was a saint in school, but I did try to stand up for people who were being picked on.
I wanted to share with your readers that any act of kindness probably means more than you know to the other person. I will be sharing my parents' message of kindness with my own daughter, and I hope other parents read this and do the same.
- Passing it on in Ohio
DEAR PASSING IT ON: Thank you for a wonderful letter. Your lesson in compassion is one that all parents should discuss with their children.
DEAR ABBY: I'm an 18-year-old girl who will be job searching pretty soon. I have never felt the need to wear makeup in my day-to-day life, but now I'm wondering. Is it unprofessional to go into a workplace sans makeup? Will future bosses think I don't look put-together? I wonder if any other girls my age are having the same confusion.
- Ready to be out there
DEAR READY: It depends upon what kind of job you'll be searching for. If you plan to work with the public, you should try to look your best at all times. For your interviews, you should be neatly, but conservatively dressed. And as for makeup, you needn't apply it as though you were going on stage, but a touch of color wouldn't hurt.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.