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Ask Amy: Daughter's distress signals

Dear Amy: My 25-year-old daughter has two children and is married to a controlling, manipulative, verbally abusive man without an honest job.

Dear Amy:

My 25-year-old daughter has two children and is married to a controlling, manipulative, verbally abusive man without an honest job.

Unfortunately she believes most of her husband's lies, schemes and promises of making it big someday - and sometimes participates in his antics. She has spent a year in therapy at my expense to get on the right track.

With the help of the therapist, she now has a part-time job to provide at least a little money and health insurance for herself and her children.

She told everyone she was attending community college to make something of herself and get on her feet. I just found out that she failed one class and withdrew from the rest.

My heart is broken with worry and shame for her.

Do I distance myself from this mess or continue to push her into leading a productive, honest life?

It is so frustrating. I am very depressed to see the choices she is making and where her life is going.

Dear Sad:

If your daughter is continuing with therapy and sticking with her job, you should consider your efforts to mentor her a qualified success.

Your daughter might not be able to manage college, and she might not ever be able to succeed in this arena. Or she might be overwhelmed and may need to take some more time before she attempts college again.

Your shame over her failure will not help her, so keep your reaction to yourself.

Encouraging your daughter to fend for herself and provide for her children is working to a degree, and I give you credit for the efforts you've made to urge her to be in charge of her life, as well as providing her with the professional therapy she so obviously needs.

As her parent, all of your efforts should be to encourage your daughter to take good care of herself and her children. You can hope that as she makes small and successful steps she will eventually distance herself from someone who sounds like a menace.

Dear Amy: I am 65 and have been widowed for 10 years.

A year ago I met a man I had known in high school. We e-mailed and talked by phone for several months, and then he came to where I live and after a few dates, he proposed and I said yes.

He will move in with me soon, and then we will get married shortly after.

My son and daughter are very upset. They think we are moving too fast.

My fiance is estranged from his children and his mother, and he wants to be a priority in my life or else he doesn't want to be with me.

Because of this, I told my kids that I wouldn't be as available to them anymore because my fiance has to come first.

That was six months ago, and I haven't spoken to my kids or grandkids since. They have stopped calling me, so I took them out of my will, and now I'm leaving everything to my fiance.

My fiance also wants me to sell my car and buy a cheaper one and move out of state after we get married.

I love my fiance, and I don't want to lose him, but it seems I can't have both him and my family.

Am I the problem, or are my kids overreacting?

What do you think of this mess?

Dear Crazy:

Let's look at it this way: If one of your children presented you with this scenario, what would you think?

I assume you would be very concerned and upset.

No one who really loves you would demand that you turn your life upside down and dump your family to be with him.

Your fiance is estranged from everyone but you. He is controlling your every move and isolating you from loved ones. He displays the classic signs of an abuser.

I hope you get ahold of yourself and come to your senses before it's too late.

Dear Amy: My oldest stepson is getting married.

I don't know what the evil, wicked, stepmother-of-the-groom is supposed to wear to the wedding.

My future daughter-in-law says that I can wear whatever I would like, but I don't want to step on any toes. Help!

Dear Stepmonster:

You'd be doing everyone a favor if you would dial down those "wicked stepmother" references.

You could check with the other mothers of this couple and try not to clash with their clothing choices. Otherwise, wear whatever you want.