DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend and I have been dating for a year and a half. We are planning on moving to California together in a few months.
I flew to Monterey to job hunt, and he is supposed to be flying in soon. However, last night I found out he and his buddy went to a strip club. My boyfriend knows I'm uncomfortable with him going to strip clubs, and he assured me that they would not be going when we spoke on the phone earlier in the evening.
He says I'm controlling and childish for being angry at him. I told him it's either me or the strip clubs -- mostly just to see how he would react. His response was that freedom of choice is very important to him. I even went as far as to say if he feels the need to go to strip clubs, then I would start stripping on the side to spite him.
I'm tempted to cancel his ticket to California. I don't want him flying here if we are just going to fight. Is this situation worth the cost of a relationship? How do I deal with someone so stubborn to the point he can't see when he's in the wrong? Abby, he is in the wrong, isn't he? -- CHOICE IS CLEAR
DEAR CHOICE: A wise woman chooses her battles carefully. If your boyfriend spent more than an occasional evening hanging out in strip clubs, I can see why it would be a deal breaker. But unless you left something important out of your letter -- like the fact that he did more than look -- it doesn't appear that he does.
You escalated the situation and you shouldn't have. However, if you feel so strongly about strip clubs, perhaps you should consider finding another man to spend your life with because it really isn't possible to control the actions of another adult.
DEAR ABBY: My 33-year-old daughter recently moved back home after failing to finish a graduate program. I discovered she was an alcoholic a few years ago and encouraged her to get treatment. She was in an outpatient recovery program and making progress, but recently relapsed.
Before her relapse, her dad and I helped her to buy a business, which is not doing well. Her employees quit, and she lost a lot of income. She started going to AA meetings, and hired some people she met who attend and live in a halfway house.
I regret helping her, and I now realize I must stop all interactions with her. She has a huge sense of entitlement and does not appreciate my help. I feel I have failed as a parent and hope I can move past this and work through my depression. Any advice you can offer is welcome. -- BEST MOM I CAN BE
DEAR BEST MOM: You have not "failed" as a parent. Your daughter has an addiction. Her addiction is not your fault. Substance abusers have been known to fall off the wagon on their road to sobriety, and this is what happened to your daughter.
It would be helpful for you to talk about your depression with a licensed mental health professional who is familiar with addictions, and to attend some Al-Anon meetings. Because you feel your relationship with your daughter has reached the point that she can no longer live with you, tell her she must make other living arrangements and set a date for her to move out. Do not do it in anger. In fact, it may be better for both of you.
DEAR ABBY: I have some suggestions for "Longing to Be a Mom" (Feb. 27), whose husband doesn't want a child. If you talk your husband into it, are you prepared to do all the parenting while he sits staring at the TV or starts working longer hours or worse? Are you prepared for the lack of connection that child might have with his/her father?
Grieve your loss. Losing the possibility for motherhood is a great loss. Find a support group or counselor who deals with loss. Believe me, I understand. My boyfriend told me he wanted children. Motherhood was my dream, and I lost my only child to an early miscarriage. Then my husband revealed he'd never really wanted children -- he only said he did because he wanted to marry me.
So I made a conscious decision to live a different life than I had planned, but a full and satisfying one. Thousands of children need someone to care. Explore opportunities to love a child who doesn't have your blood, but who could have your heart.
Help at a church's children's department, a Girl Scout troop, tutor children at a local school, offer to take a single mom's children to a park for an hour. The possibilities are endless.
No, it's not the same as bearing your own children. But even if one dream was dashed, take heart: You can still fulfill new ones. -- HELEN IN WASHINGTON
DEAR HELEN: Thank you for offering sensible advice to help "Longing" as well as other women in her situation. Readers suggested other ways to mother children who are already in the world: joining the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, volunteering at a day care facility or after-school program, contacting Boys and Girls Clubs of America, cuddling newborns at a hospital and becoming involved in a homeless shelter's Adopt-a-Family program.
DEAR ABBY: I am writing because we are receiving some snide comments because of our daughter's choice of college major. She's majoring in dance. When people with college-age kids or grandkids find out, you can see it in their expression or hear it in their tone of voice. "Oh, really? Ummm, how nice." Or worse, the condescending, "How 'SWEET.'"
Our daughter has always been an honor student. Starting in high school she carried full loads of classes, extracurriculars, held jobs and was active in church. In college she has added dance company and sorority to her resume.
I want these people to realize it takes guts to pursue her dream of becoming a dancer/choreographer and not major in something more conventional. We support her decision, and she already has her associate's degree in a field that will be useful as a backup. Why can't people understand that fine arts majors are brave, bold and passionate about their crafts? -- DANCER'S MOM IN TEXAS
DEAR DANCER'S MOM: If you react to the comments in a positive way rather than become defensive, they would give you the opening to smile and tell these "conventional thinkers" how proud you are of your daughter's choice to pursue her dreams, that her courage in pursuing a field as competitive as entertainment is more than "nice" and you admire her for it.
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