Q. I am an only child who was reared by loving but extremely controlling parents. They tried to dictate my attire, my friends, and my opinions. I moved away and married, but things have only gotten worse.
I considered moving home to help them, as they are getting older. My husband was skeptical. He’s seen me cry from the guilt trips my parents have put on me and has heard the bigoted remarks about my mixed-race grandchildren.
I found an online listing for a fixer-upper and asked my folks to see whether it was worthwhile. When we drove to my hometown, I discovered my father was already working on the yard and dealing with a realtor. But the place was a wreck. I knew this wasn’t the house for me. Meanwhile, my father pointed his finger in my face and dared me to back out of the deal he had arranged. And then he said, in front of my husband, that I should buy the house myself and let my husband and kids make their own way in the world.
That evening, my parents railed at me about my daughter’s mixed-race children, saying they would never be allowed to visit. They told me I needed to dump my friends so they could introduce me to better ones.
I decided that I could not live like this, and we left. My parents were furious and haven’t spoken to me in six months. My cards, gifts, and e-mails go unanswered. I am miserable, and I know this is exactly how they want me to feel. Do I still try to be the better person and send a Father’s Day gift?
A. Your parents sound manipulative and difficult, and we’re impressed that you turned out to be so well adjusted. You don’t owe your father a gift, but would it make you feel better to send something anyway? We suggest you handle future communications in whatever way gives you peace of mind. It’s OK to please yourself.
Q. I am 31 and a never-married single mother. Along with raising a happy 5-year-old, I have a small business, and I attend school part time.
I’m tired of supposed well-meaning friends implying that I should marry. They ask, “Do you want to die alone?” or “Don’t you want a father for your son?” I answer them with humor, but I don’t appreciate the questions.
Please help your readers understand that it is OK not to be interested in marriage. Many of the married moms I know are unhappy, and quite a few end up raising their husbands as well as their kids. Being single isn’t a mark of failure and doesn’t require an explanation. I understand the value society places on marriage, but what happened to the value of minding your own business?
in the Northeast
A. If the same friends keep making the same remarks, tell them politely, “I cannot imagine why you think this is your business.” It may be less gentle than you’d like, but it should put an end to the questions.
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