DEAR ABBY: I am a single mother with two young daughters and a 21-year-old son, “Billy,” who dropped out of high school during his senior year. When it happened, I was very upset. I told him if he wanted to continue to live at home, he would have to get a full-time job and pay rent. Billy didn’t like that idea, so he went to live with his girlfriend and her parents, who didn’t seem to care that he had no job.

About a year ago, Billy’s girlfriend broke up with him. Since he had no place to go, I told him he could stay with me temporarily. He has been sleeping on my couch ever since. Billy has only a part-time job. He says that’s all he can find. I’m tired of supporting him and I think he should be out on his own by now, but if I kick him out, he’ll have nowhere to go. His father is no help. Billy rarely sees him. I’m at my wit’s end. Please tell me what I should do. – FED-UP MOM IN MASSACHUSETTS

Your son may have trouble finding full-time employment because he lacks a high school diploma. His first priority should be to contact his high school and find out how to get his GED. Then he must start studying again and pick up where he left off when he dropped out.

I know it’s frustrating, but be patient a little longer. I don’t know what Billy’s talents are, but if he isn’t college material, he should consider going to a trade school and learning a marketable skill. The job market is difficult right now, so accept the fact that a part-time job and getting his equivalency diploma may be all Billy can manage for a while.

As long as your son is willing to work toward success, you should be willing to compromise. However, if he isn’t willing to go to trade school or get a GED, he should get a full-time job. There are jobs at fast-food places, movie theaters, supermarkets, etc., that don’t require skills and/or diplomas. At 21, your son is too old to be supported. Be prepared to be firm with him, because if you aren’t, he may never learn to fly on his own.

DEAR ABBY: I need advice. I am a woman in my mid-30s, married more than 10 years, and the mother of two children. My husband, “Howard,” is a good father and has an important job with a six-figure income. I don’t have to work. I buy whatever I want and Howard doesn’t mind.

My problem is, I don’t think I’m in love with Howard. He has an extremely low sex drive. We haven’t been intimate in years. In fact, out of frustration, I moved out of the bedroom last year. I have tried talking to him about our problem to no avail. He refuses to go to counseling.

To complicate matters, three years ago I began an affair with a married man. Although he and his wife have children, they are divorcing. We want to be together, but I don’t know if I can leave Howard. My lover earns less than half of what Howard makes, plus he will have to pay child support. I don’t know if I can manage on his salary. Please understand, I don’t work because I don’t want to put my kids in day care.

As I see it, I have three choices:

(1) Continue the affair and hope nobody finds out.

(2) Leave Howard and hope my lover and I can make it on his small salary.

(3) End the affair.

If we end the affair, I think one of us would have to move. We live in a small town and travel in the same social circles. This whole thing is driving me crazy. What should I do? – FRUSTRATED IN FLORIDA

In a nutshell, it comes down to this: Which is more important to you – sex or money? Both are powerful motivators, but only you can answer that question.

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.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in “What Every Teen Should Know.” To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.