Dear Abby • My niece, “Amelia,” was a straight-A student in high school. She took advanced placement courses from 10th grade through 12th and was in all honors classes. She talked about going into the medical field after she got her college degree. Before starting college she wanted to take a year off and just live life because she’d had so many college-level courses almost her entire high school life.
My sister (her mother) and I talk every day. Amelia has left home now and returned to their home state of Ohio because she loved it there when she was younger. She hasn’t decided what she wants to go to school for and thinks she can afford to attend college full-time, have an apartment on her own and pay for everything she needs. No matter how many times my sister tells her she needs to move back home and attend college here so she can finish her education, Amelia still seems to think she can do it all. My sister is afraid if she pushes her too much, she will shut down. What can we do to make this girl realize life will be easier at home and with support? — Aunt Who Cares in the South
Dear Aunt • Amelia may be suffering from burnout, which is why she wants a gap year before starting college. Because she’s an adult now, she may also want some freedom that she can’t have if she lives at home. The more your sister pressures her, the more Amelia will dig her heels in, so the matter should be put on the back burner for now. When the subject is raised again, it should be in a non-confrontational manner — with a spreadsheet handy so your niece can show her mother how she plans to finance her new lifestyle.
Amelia is a high achiever. Give her credit for intelligence. She may or may not change her mind about medicine being a career she wants to pursue. This is a decision she should make without pressure, as well-intentioned as it may be.
Dear Abby • I am doing an ancestry search to present to my sister-in-law “Kate” as a surprise birthday gift. While doing the search, I discovered that her late mother, “Ellen,” has a sister who lives nearby. My brother believes Kate knows nothing about her. For unknown reasons, Ellen hadn’t spoken to almost her entire family in years; therefore, Kate knows little about them.
We’re not sure if I should include Ellen’s sister in the ancestry or not. I think Kate has the right to know, but I don’t want to upset her. What are your thoughts? — Don’t Want to Cause Pain
Dear Don’t • There is always a reason for family estrangements. Ellen may have been hurt or mistreated by her relatives, which is why she separated herself from them. However, Kate is an adult and should have the information you discovered to do with as she pleases, which includes ignoring it.
Dear Abby • I have had a chronic illness for 15 years. It has myriad symptoms that are very painful. While some of them are fleeting, others last for weeks.
My family is angry with me because they say I am not dependable. My husband is supportive, so our household is calm and reassuring. He says I should stop communicating with these relatives because the negativity is depressing and demoralizing. How can I get them to accept me as I am? — Anonymous in America
Dear Anonymous • You can’t force people who have no empathy to have it. For whatever reason, it isn’t in their DNA. You can, however, take care of YOURSELF. If seeing or talking with your relatives leaves you feeling worse, it would make sense to follow your husband’s advice.
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 DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.