My heart breaks when jokes are made about older children, especially sons, who still live at home. My son "Nick" has his own area of the house and cares for himself. His rent helps us greatly. My parents also live in another part of the house, and he helps with their needs sometimes.

Why does everyone make fun of these people without knowing the situation? Nick has a college degree and a good job, but the wages aren't what they were in relation to the cost of living. We both work full time, and so I rarely see him. He also travels for his job and can be gone for two weeks at a time. He used to own a home, but sold it to move out of state for work. When he came back, we set up this arrangement to benefit all of us.

People need to look at the whole picture before making a judgment. Abby, do you think this is an unacceptable arrangement?

- Family Extended in Kansas

DEAR FAMILY EXTENDED: Unacceptable? Not at all, if it's working for you and your family. In recent years it's become more common for adult children to live with their parents. People shouldn't rush to judgment if they don't have all of the facts.

Husband's illness has her thinking


My husband has an extensive list of health issues, both mental and physical. His family has a history of cancer. Last week, we were given the news that he may have pancreatic cancer. He watched his brother die from the same disease, so we know that if he is diagnosed, he may not survive long. The doctors weren't able to make a definitive diagnosis, so there will be more testing. I love my husband with all my heart and have stood by him through everything.

My dilemma: After we got the news, I started thinking about what may happen to me after he dies. I thought about getting him more life insurance, selling the house, what to do with his belongings - even where I would bury him. Am I a terrible person? I feel guilty for doing it and would appreciate your opinion.

- Filled with All Sorts of Emotions

DEAR FILLED: Please stop beating yourself up. I can't think of a single reason why you should feel guilty for thinking rationally.

You and your husband are going through a traumatic health crisis right now. I hope his diagnosis of a terminal illness is premature and that you will enjoy many more happy years together. However, whatever lies ahead, the two of you are overdue for a conversation about what both of you would like to happen - including a review of each other's health care powers of attorney.

Shooting scares incoming student


I'm a student in eighth grade. In September we had a shooting at the high school in my district. Honestly, I have no clue what to think.

My dad always said that being in South Dakota, we are safer from the craziness that happens in cities. We have little to no bad/dangerous kids in our district, so I still can't wrap my mind around it. It feels surreal.

I'll be in high school next year, and I don't know how I'm going to cope with the idea that it could happen again.

- Scared in South Dakota

DEAR SCARED: The student who acted out so violently may have suffered from a severe mental illness that wasn't properly treated, or may have been angry because he was bullied, excluded or felt discriminated against. While no one is 100 percent safe from violence these days, the chances of it happening to you are less if you treat others with the same respect and kindness with which you would like to be treated.

If these concerns are preoccupying you, it's important that you continue to discuss them with your parents so they can give you the assurance you need.

Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.