College grad living at home wants more control of her life


Dear Abby: I am 24 and graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. I am currently living with my parents. They are a bit controlling and hate resistance from me. I grew up doing everything they told me with no personal opinions of my own, until I met my fiance a year ago. He has helped me gain the strength to speak up and let my thoughts be known.

We’re trying to save enough money to live together. Mom has made it clear that she doesn’t like that idea because we’re not married yet. She and Dad are also unhappy that I no longer want to work in the field my degree is in. (I worked for a sheriff’s office for a couple of months and was treated horribly, then I was fired.)

I have told my parents repeatedly that this is my life, but it seems to do no good. Do you have any suggestions on what I should say to them about these issues?

Grown-up Girl

In Alabama

Dear Grown-up Girl: You appear to be a bright young woman who was raised to be submissive and compliant. That may be the reason working at the sheriff’s office didn’t work out for you.

Rather than turn your back on the profession you trained for, you need to learn to be more assertive. That way you won’t be dependent on anyone else for the strength to voice your opinions, or live your life according to the standards you set for yourself. Sometimes it isn’t what you say, but the conviction with which the words are spoken that carries the most important message.

P.S. Return to the college from which you graduated and talk to a counselor there about the various career options in your field for someone with your degree. Surely there are more opportunities than working at that sheriff’s office.

Dear Abby: It’s a second marriage for my husband and me. Our children are all adults, and we all try to get along. My stepdaughter, “Sharon,” has invited us for Thanksgiving weekend and insists that we be her houseguests. As sweet as she is, she and her family live in a borderline “hoarder” home.

The last time we visited our hometown, we stopped by to see them. After a struggle to get the front door open, Sharon’s first words were, “We know it’s a mess. We don’t clean or cook.” When we returned to our car, my husband said he had never seen a house that filthy. But he insists we accept their invitation and not hurt their feelings.

I’d rather get a motel room and take them out to dinner. I have strongly voiced my concerns for our safety and health to my husband. How can I address the subject of needing clean sheets and being able to cook a meal, and getting to the (dirty) bathroom during the night? I’m already having anxiety issues.

Having Nightmares

In Tennessee

Dear Having Nightmares: I sympathize with your husband’s desire not to cause hurt feelings, but the invitation for you to be houseguests under these circumstances is not practical.

Sharon should be told that you are a very private person and you would not feel comfortable getting up in the middle of the night and flushing a toilet; therefore you would be more at ease in a motel.

If her kitchen and eating areas are “filthy” (your husband’s word), you should not eat in her house, either. Your husband should cheerfully assert his role as the patriarch and insist on taking the family out for Thanksgiving dinner. How can she argue? After all, “Father knows best!”

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.