When Leaving the Nest Is Hard
Dear Margo: My sister is two years older than me, so when she went away to college, I was still at home with our parents. Last year, I graduated high school and went away to college. I immediately became concerned about my parents. They only had two kids, and I knew that once we were both gone, they were going to be lonely. Last year, I went home for many weekends to see them and my friends. Now that I’m in my second year of college, I’ve tried not to go home as often so I can focus on studies and having relationships with people at school. However, I’m still as concerned as ever about my parents.
My dad has mentioned how bored he gets at night after my mom goes to bed, leaving him with nothing to do but watch TV. Basically, without my sister and me, I know they only work, sleep and watch TV. I think about them a lot and worry that they are bored, lonely and depressed because nobody is home. I’ve suggested they get a puppy or try new hobbies, and they say they work so much that they don’t have the energy for a hobby. Sometimes my mom begs me to come home for the weekend. Is there anything I can do? — Worried Student
Dear Wor: I don’t know if your parents are playing the violin of loneliness because their girls have flown the coop or if you are having empty nest syndrome on their behalf. In any case, people do not have children for the purpose of having them stick around forever to save them from boredom. In a few years, you or your sister could wind up across the country for either work or marriage, so let your time at college be guilt-free. If your Mom is leaning on you, stick to your guns and say you need to be at school, and then continue encouraging them along the lines of puppy, hobby and friends. If they are in a rut, it is their rut, and that’s just the way things are. — Margo, stalwartly
Things Happen, Things Change
Dear Margo: “Clara” and I have been friends for 10 years. We have shared everything in good times and bad, and since we live in different states, we talk a lot on the phone. However, she has changed drastically. All she does is talk about herself. The minute I pick up the receiver, she will start with her complaints, and I cannot get a single word in. I have tried not answering the phone. That doesn’t work because she’ll keep on calling, and the ringing drives me crazy! I’ve told her I am busy and it’s not a good time to talk. Then she says I am selfish and am never there for her when she needs me. And wait till you hear this: She has started sleeping around.
I told her I absolutely do not agree with this and don’t want to know about these encounters. At this, she got mad, saying who was I to judge her, etc. I’m beginning to detest this woman and the sound of her voice. I think she is suffering from depression and have told her this many times. At this, she says my job is to help her out of it. I don’t think so. She needs professional help, and I cannot spend every waking minute talking to her and listening to her escapades. I no longer want anything to do with her, but my husband says I am being mean. — Gloria
Dear Glo: You know, dear, friendship is not a lifetime contract. Leave your husband out of the deliberations, and when you can get a word in edgewise, tell this woman that you have tried to be a friend to her, that you are ill-equipped to be a therapist, that she must find a real one, and that the nature of your relationship has changed so much that you would like to take a break. If she persists with the phone calls, it is acceptable to say you are taking a break — as you have explained to her — and you are now going to hang up. — Margo, unwaveringly
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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.
COPYRIGHT 2011 MARGO HOWARD
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