DEAR ABBY: Ever since high school, our adult daughter has had mood swings. My wife and I thought she'd grow out of it as she matured, but she hasn't. At her request we sent her to a university far away, and we were proud that she earned her bachelor's degree. We thought independent living would do the trick, but her personality and behavior toward us didn't change.
She's an only child, and we spoiled her -- bought her cars and paid for college. I asked her to try for scholarships to help us out, but she didn't. She married and had two wonderful kids, but her mood swings persist. When I mentioned she see a counselor or therapist as a way to get some third-party advice and sort things out, she hit the ceiling and told me I was the one who needs therapy. Then she brought up my flaws and my past drinking problem. Granted, I have made mistakes, and I'm not perfect, but I've learned and grown.
After 10 years she divorced her husband. She got custody of the kids and the house. Her divorce cost us a great deal of money. Her authoritative and moody behavior is affecting our grandchildren.
I love my daughter very much and always have. If you were in my shoes, Abby, what would you do for a more healthy and loving relationship for all involved? -- STILL HER DAD IN FLORIDA
DEAR DAD: I would look back and examine all the things I did to foster her behavior. An example would be paying for her divorce. Then I would stop doing them and not resume until she agreed to consult a psychotherapist about her mood swings. Don't do it for her or for yourself. Do it for the sake of your grandchildren.
DEAR ABBY: Before I met my boyfriend of eight months, I planned a 10-day Japan vacation for next year with my best guy friend, "J." We have been friends for eight years, and have never had any romantic interest in each other. Both of us want to visit Japan because it's on our bucket list.
J and I were both single when we started making plans. Then I met my boyfriend. My boyfriend knew from the beginning that this trip was going to happen next year. Because the date wasn't "set in stone" or paid for until recently, my boyfriend thinks I should have called it off. He says I'm making the trip and my friend a higher priority than him, and his feelings are hurt. He said if I was going with a female friend he wouldn't care.
I still want to take the trip. I feel canceling would be betraying my friend J. Am I being a bad girlfriend? -- TRIPPED UP IN THE EAST
DEAR TRIPPED UP: A "bad" girlfriend? No. An independent one, yes. You say your boyfriend has known about this from the beginning, so this wasn't a surprise to him. If he was more secure about himself and your relationship, he would know that J isn't a threat. Not only should you take the trip, you should also use the time away to decide if you want a life partner as insecure as your boyfriend appears to be.
DEAR ABBY: My husband of 20 years, "Jerry," recently learned about an old girlfriend's death. A Facebook friend informed him about it. The message arrived late at night while I was sleeping, and he woke me to tell me the news.
He is now receiving condolences from friends that he is responding to as though he were grieving. Abby, the old girlfriend and my husband split up on very bad terms. She not only cheated on him but gave him an STD. I am appalled and feel hurt that this is happening. Friends of mine are surprised and suspicious about it.
I confronted my husband and asked him if the situation were reversed and I were the one who died and an old flame started receiving condolences, how would he feel? Jerry said it wouldn't bother him. Is it normal to send condolences to old flames? -- DEATHLY CONFUSED IN TEXAS
DEAR DEATHLY: It's normal to inform others about a death, but considering the circumstances of the breakup, what's going on isn't "normal." It's possible that the messages your husband is receiving are from other Facebook friends who are connected to the sender of the original message.
While it isn't unusual for old friends to reach out to each other after news of a death, to convey it in the form of a condolence to an ex-boyfriend after the romance is long over strikes me as somewhat odd. My advice is to remain calm, don't let it give you heartburn and wait for the emotions to subside with time.
DEAR ABBY: The holidays are approaching, and I suspect many young couples are facing the same problem about where to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas. I have two daughters -- one married and one single. The married daughter's mother-in-law has declared that this is "her" year for Thanksgiving, and next year is "her" year for Christmas. She has three sons, none of whom lives within four hours of her home. All three sons have children.
Don't you think the sons and their wives should decide for themselves if they want to travel for the holidays? They may prefer to spend Christmas morning in their own homes. Also, what about her daughters-in-law's parents? Perhaps they, too, have other grown children who would like to decide what they want to do for the holidays.
My philosophy is to plan my holidays and invite my children. If they can come, great! If not, there are no hard feelings. If all of my children and grandchildren can't be here at the same time, I focus on the ones who are and enjoy the time I have with them. I think the woman is being disrespectful to her sons and daughters-in-law. What say you? -- FOCUS ON A GOOD TIME
DEAR FOCUS: As your letter illustrates, not all mothers-in-law are alike. Some are iron-fisted matriarchs who demand obedience from their grown children. Others, like you, are more easygoing. In my opinion, the woman you have described is less disrespectful than overbearing.
DEAR ABBY: I'm a 58-year-old woman, divorced for three years. I was in a loveless marriage for almost 20 years. Over the last three years I have lost 45 pounds and have started going to online dating sites. I'm attractive, so I get lots of attention.
I post nice pictures of myself, nothing sexy. But the kind of attention I'm getting is not what I want. I'd like to meet a man and try to have a long-term relationship. Most of the men "say" that's what they want, too. But to be honest about it, it's not.
How can I come across as a woman who wants an LTR and not a "friends with benefits" or a hook-up? I don't sleep around, so those things just are not my cup of tea. What do I do? -- LOST IN THE ONLINE DATING WORLD
DEAR LOST: If someone wants to move your "relationship" to the next level before you are ready, you need to say you are not comfortable in moving so quickly. It's straightforward and honest.
It occurs to me that there are many kinds of dating sites, and you may be on the wrong ones. If you have friends who are also in the dating world, ask them which they use. But if you have no luck there, consider meeting suitable men the old-fashioned way -- by being introduced by people you know and who know you well.
DEAR ABBY: My mother is a smart, independent woman -- until she gets a boyfriend. She has been dating ever since Dad died in 1994.
Every relationship starts out well; the guy seems nice. Then he moves into her house and things change. Mom stops thinking for herself and turns into a brainless, spineless puppet. It causes conflict between us because she thinks I'm selfish and trying to sabotage her relationship.
She has had her current boyfriend for two years. I'm 37, disabled and require some help from Mom. So do my grandparents and a family friend Mom takes care of to supplement her income. The boyfriend is pushing Mom to spend three to four months of the year with him in Arizona, leaving those of us who need her without help.
None of these men ever help her out financially. Should I say nothing and let her disappear? What happens to the people who depend on her? -- JUST HER DAUGHTER IN COLORADO
DEAR JUST: What happens to the ADULTS who depend on your mother is they arrange for outside assistance during the time she's in Arizona. And if this is the first time in years that she will have taken a break, you should all wish her well.
DEAR ABBY: One of my co-workers constantly interrupts when I'm having a conversation with other people. It doesn't seem to matter who I am speaking with or what the subject is. She'll interrupt in the middle of the conversation, and everyone must stop and look at her or acknowledge her.
We are in a professional environment, and I feel her behavior is extremely discourteous. The subjects she discusses are things like the sandwiches her husband bought the day before, what they had for dinner that night or whatever is trending at the moment. She never discusses work-related issues.
This happens every day and it's disruptive. Would you kindly share some ideas on how to deal with her interruptions? -- BOTHERED OFFICE GUY
DEAR OFFICE GUY: Obviously, your co-worker was never taught that interrupting while others are talking is rude. Because it bothers you, the next time she does it, tell her it's distracting when she breaks into your conversations and to please stop. If she persists, and other co-workers feel as you do about it, bring it to the attention of your supervisor or HR and let that person handle it.
DEAR ABBY: I am 28 and I'm disgusted with myself about how I talk to my mother when I'm stressed out. I know it's not her. It's me.
My other issue is road rage. When I'm behind the wheel and the cars ahead of me are going too slow or the drivers make stupid moves, I'm annoyed to the point that I sometimes take risky chances to get away from them. I know it puts my life and the lives of others at risk, and I don't want to be like this.
I sometimes wonder why my parents didn't teach me ways to tone down my anger when I was younger. I'm lucky they still love me, even when I snap at them. Do you have any tips on how to control my temper? -- SIMMERING IN SUBURBIA
DEAR SIMMERING: If you think you are alone in having these issues, you are mistaken. We are living in increasingly stressful times that have affected most of us in one way or another. If, however, you continue allowing your stress to dictate your behavior, it may eventually drive a wedge between you and the people you care about.
It's important that you realize anger is a normal emotion. At one time or another, anger is experienced by everyone. Recognizing what is CAUSING your stress and anger can help you to avoid taking it out on others.
It takes self-control -- and maturity -- to react calmly, instead of reacting angrily. Being able to identify what's triggering the anger and causing you to verbalize it can help to prevent an outburst. Instead say, "When you do or say that, it makes me angry." Or try saying, "Mom, I'm stressed right now. Can we discuss this later?" Or, "I've had a really rough day. I need to be alone for a little while." Then go for a walk to help you to regain your perspective. Developing the ability to do this will not only lessen your guilt, but also earn you the respect of those with whom you interact. My Anger Booklet contains many suggestions for managing and constructively expressing anger in various situations. It can be ordered by sending your name and mailing address, plus a check or money order for $7 in 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. As to your "over the top" reactions when you are in your car driving, try to remember that we are all human and make mistakes. I have made them, and so have you.
If you MUST drive during rush hours, try listening to music or an audio book. And count to 10 before you hit the accelerator. Avoid blasting the horn or making rude gestures. (Screaming is permissible as long as your windows are closed.)
People who lose control not only can get hurt in a variety of ways, but also hurt others -- including innocent bystanders. That's why it is very important to be able to express anger in healthy ways.
We are living in a time when the anger level in our society has reached new heights. As we have seen all too often in news reports, explosive anger is the most dangerous of all. Perhaps constructive anger management should be taught in schools to help people more effectively communicate in a healthy manner.
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