Mom struggles to describe a daughter who’s veered off-course

Published 8:30 am Friday, August 18, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

DEAR ABBY: Our daughter (age 21) has made a series of bad choices and failed relationships since she was 16. She went to college and quit (twice), joined the Air Force and hated it, but managed to get a “general discharge.” At age 19, she had a baby with a high school dropout and violent drug abuser. They’ve had an on/off relationship. He has pushed, shoved and outright hit her, destroyed two of her phones, hit her sister and smashed her phone. He took my daughter’s car while fleeing the police, leaving her and the baby stranded. We have paid countless sums of money for an attorney and sent her more to get her car. She has lied and deceived us on her relationship status. We wanted to believe our daughter.
Now they are back together! We sent the police for a wellness check, and they say she is OK. As you can imagine, we are heartbroken. Our other children are doing well and keep me sane. When people ask about our kids, what do we say about her? I want something simple to end the questioning. “She’s back with her loser boyfriend, and I don’t know where or what she’s doing”? Is there any hope to make peace in our family? – WEARY MOM IN WEST VIRGINIA

DEAR WEARY MOM: When asked about your daughter, either tell the questioner your daughter is back with her boyfriend (omitting the fact that he is a drug-abusing, violent loser) or be truthful and reveal that you are “estranged.” You do not have to go into more detail than that. You may find, to your surprise, that the questioner has a similar family situation. As to whether there’s hope that your daughter will finally reunite with the rest of the family, it may take a long time, but at some point, she may decide to do that. However, it may not happen until her boyfriend starts to abuse their child.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been retired for almost 10 years. We moved to a coastal resort area we love. However, we have noticed that these retired couples/singles are extremely competitive and mostly a bunch of one-uppers. Is this common in all retirement communities? Does everyone need to have their last hurrah and wave the “I made it” flag? We have met only a handful of people who don’t always talk about themselves and their achievements, recent purchases, upgrades to their property and genius children/grandchildren. We have never met so many narcissistic people in our lives. We have always thought that everyone puts their pants on the same way, so we just lay low and steer clear of these people. Any advice would be appreciated. – SURPRISED IN THE CAROLINAS

DEAR SURPRISED: Maintain your relationships with that handful of folks who can carry on a conversation without bragging. Be sociable with everyone, and see the braggarts less often. Most folks who behave this way do it out of insecurity. Enlarge your social circle. Cultivate relationships with people whose values more closely align with yours.
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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
Good advice for everyone – teens to seniors – is in “The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It.” To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox