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Posted on Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 5 a.m.

Mom uses illness to compete with girl for son's attention

By Dear Abby


I'm 18 and my boyfriend, "Jordan," is 17. We have been together a year and a half and rarely fight. There is only one problem in our relationship -- his mother.

"Martha" has lupus and uses it to manipulate Jordan. When we plan dates, she'll tell him she feels sick and make him stay home to take care of her. As soon as the date is canceled, she's miraculously better. She complains that he doesn't spend enough time with her and lays guilt on him because she "could die any day," but says these things only when I'm around.

I don't believe that at 17 my boyfriend deserves the stress she puts on us, but I'm not sure what to do about it. Can you help me? -- STRESSED TEENS IN THE SOUTH


There is nothing you can do about it, so accept that as long as you're involved with Jordan, his mother is part of the package deal.

In another year your boyfriend will be legally an adult and able to decide if he wants to stay at home taking care of his mother, or leave to pursue his education or go to work. From your description, the family dynamics do not appear to be healthy. But if you're smart, you will not involve yourself in them. A girl who competes with her boyfriend's mother rarely wins that battle, so remember that.


I'm 14 and a ballet dancer, although I just started dancing seriously at 12. I have been in some shows and my teacher has started me on pointe work. It has become my dream to dance professionally.

When I confided it to my mother, she told me it would be impossible. I take two classes a week, but I will be taking more -- possibly five -- this year. Should I continue with my dream or pursue something else? I know it's a tough profession to work in, but it is what I love. -- DANCING FOR JOY IN SAN DIEGO


A career in dance requires strength, determination, discipline and sacrifice. These are all traits that will serve you well regardless of what profession you decide to pursue when you're older. The person you should ask this question of is your ballet teacher, who is better able to evaluate your talent than I can at a distance.

But I urge you to stick with dance as long as it interests you. Even if you don't eventually become a performer, you could become a choreographer, a teacher or find a rewarding career in some other capacity with a dance company.

Now is not the time to give up on this dream.


My fiance is an amazing man and I'm lucky to have him, but because he's in the military I don't see him very often. I recently met a guy in one of my college classes who has made it clear that he's attracted to me. I can't help but feel the same about him.

He often asks me to study and hang out with him. Am I being disloyal if I innocently study or hang out with this guy without telling my fiance? -- FRIENDLY FIANCEE IN COLORADO


You say the attraction between you and your classmate is mutual. If you start hanging out with him without telling your fiance, then the relationship isn't innocent. If you can't handle the separations, then you don't have what it takes to be a military wife. So do both of you a favor and end the engagement.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (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.