Son with new girlfriend grows more distant from his mother

Brownwood Bulletin
Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: I'm a mom of three young adults, a daughter and two sons. The oldest recently married. My youngest is finishing his last two years of college out of state. Three months ago, he met a young lady.

I have tried constantly to be close with all my children, but the youngest has always kept me at bay. He expresses how different we are. Now that he has met this young lady, I think he's trying to push me further away and continue on with her and her mom. It makes me sad because no matter how hard I try to be a good mother and be present, it doesn't work. What do you suggest? -- SAD MOM IN MISSISSIPPI

DEAR MOM: Your son is pursuing not only this young lady, but also his independence, which is normal for someone his age, and he may need to separate from you for a while. Back off for now and allow him some space. Whether this college romance will pan out is anyone's guess, so calm down. If possible, concentrate on things other than your empty nest. However, if you are unable to do that, ask your physician or your insurance company to refer you to a licensed psychotherapist to help you get through this.

DEAR ABBY: I lost my schnauzer to diabetes five months ago. He was my best and, really, only friend. I can't get over the guilt for having to euthanize him. I hate myself. I have cried every day since because I feel like I let him down. I have never had to go through this before. It was so traumatic I just can't get over it. Why is this so hard? -- BEYOND GRIEF IN UTAH

DEAR BEYOND GRIEF: You have my sympathy. If your dog was suffering and your veterinarian told you the time had come for him to go, you did the right thing. Our beloved pets should run and play rather than suffer. This is so painful because you loved your cherished family member and feel you should have saved him, which, of course, was beyond your power.

Every pet owner faces what you are experiencing when they leave their pet at the Rainbow Bridge. In time, your pain should lessen. But if it persists to the point that it interferes with the rest of your life, consult your veterinarian about joining a grief support group.

DEAR ABBY: My husband of 49 years is fighting me left and right about finding someone to help around our house. He is stubborn. He has tunnel vision and a one-track mind, and he doesn't want anyone to assist him in anything. If I hire someone, he always has a negative comment about that person's workmanship.

He's retired after working 44 years and thinks life will wait for him to complete any task, even if it takes another 49 years. I need help with his "I can handle it" attitude while everything stays on hold until he can get to it. -- NEEDS IT YESTERDAY IN MICHIGAN

DEAR NEEDS IT: Give your husband a deadline to either finish a project or hire it done, making clear that if he doesn't do it, you will see it gets done. Then batten down the hatches and be prepared for him not to take the message gracefully.

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 24-year-old woman who has been married for four years. My husband, "Jerry," and I have two young boys. Jerry is military. I stay at home with the kids and work part time online on an associate degree. We struggle financially, but our basic needs are met and, overall, I'm happy with my life.

My problem is I'm finding myself struggling to control a very strong temper. The kids or my husband may be getting on my nerves, or I'm late turning in an assignment, or I'm unable to get housework done -- these frustrations build up inside and make me want to throw a fit, scream or throw things, essentially NOT be the cool, responsible adult I typically am.

I know this is incredibly immature, and I realize I'm well off in the grand scheme of things, but this anger still brews. I have never had a problem controlling my temper before. Can you help? -- FIRED UP IN FLORIDA

DEAR FIRED UP: The quarantines and lockdowns may be part of the cause of your near meltdowns. Many people are stressed and spread thin, and the isolation isn't helping.

Because you are constantly with your children, it's important that you manage your emotions before venting them on your little ones, which can be destructive. When an adult yells or acts out in front of a small child, the child will often shut down out of fear that violence may follow. This is why it's so important for you to find appropriate ways to express your emotions. My booklet "The Anger in All of Us and How To Deal With It" offers suggestions for directing angry feelings in a healthy way. It can be ordered by sending your name and address, plus a 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. Sometimes when people are frustrated, they lose their temper with those presently around them. In situations like this, it's important to evaluate the source of what might really be irritating you rather than misdirect your anger at a blameless target. The ability to control your emotions is crucial so your children won't grow up thinking that exploding is normal. There are healthy ways of dealing with frustration. Among them: leaving the room, going for a walk or, better yet, a short run, or saying to yourself, "Please, Lord, don't let me lose my temper!" before opening your mouth.

DEAR ABBY: My boss has been making passes at me for the last five months, even though I have told him it makes me uncomfortable. We went out to dinner once, and he is insisting that we do it again. How do I say no to this married man and still keep my job? -- UNCOMFORTABLE IN THE SOUTH

DEAR UNCOMFORTABLE: Ask your employer if he is satisfied with your job performance. Tell him a social relationship with a married man is not what you signed on for and, if he becomes punitive, document it and point out that what he is doing could be considered sexual harassment.