DEAR ABBY: I am in my 30s. I have not lived at home for 10 years; however, my parents sold the family home a few months ago, and I got very depressed when the sale became final.

My parents are in excellent health and live nearby. I am grieving, but I don’t know why. My brothers and sisters and I grew up in that house, and we all feel a real sense of loss.

Maybe I’m having trouble getting used to the idea that time marches on and that all good things eventually end. Also, we’re not getting together as often as we used to when we gathered at the house.

Can you suggest anything that will help me move along with my life? I want to focus on positive things and not look back for something that is gone. – GRIEVING FOR THE HOUSE

The house was a symbol of your childhood. Now that it is gone, in a sense, so is your childhood. That may be a sad thought, but dwell on the positive. You have the rest of your life to live as an adult, with all the guaranteed rights and privileges that go along with it. If the family isn’t gathering as often as it used to, consider starting new family traditions. Perhaps it’s time for you and your siblings to trade off hosting holiday celebrations. Look at it this way: Nothing stays the same. Sometimes it gets better and better.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 24-year-old mother of a beautiful 5- year-old daughter, “Donna.” I was married to her father for a year. When we divorced, Donna and I relocated 600 miles away to move in with my new boyfriend. A year later, I realized that the relationship was going nowhere, so Donna and I returned to our hometown.

Four months later, I met “Gary.” We’ve been together for two years now. Gary loves Donna and she loves him. However, he recently told me he has no intention of marrying me. (And like an idiot, I continue to let him spend the night.)

Donna cries when Gary and I fight, and now I’m afraid that if I leave him, Donna will have major abandonment issues and not trust men when she is older.

I know I am not being fair to my daughter, and I worry about whether it’s too late to make things better for her. I don’t want to give up dating for good, but I feel hatred toward Gary every time I think about how easy it would be for him to pack up and never see us again. I hate the fact that I let this happen and that there’s nothing I can do to change it. I love Donna and would give my life for her, but I am confused because if I didn’t have her, I would have no problem with my relationship with Gary. It just seems so unfair.

Will my daughter resent me for the selfish decision I have made? – MIXED-UP MOM IN MISSISSIPPI

That remains to be seen. As it stands, you have had a flash of insight about your lifestyle and your responsibilities as a mother.

The time has come to start thinking like a mature adult. That means putting your daughter first and not rushing into intimate relationships. If I were you, I’d consider taking a sanity break from men for a while. When you resume, do not introduce your daughter to the people you’re dating until you are sure they are sincere and honorable.

P.S. Since Gary has no intention of guaranteeing a stable future for you and your child, end the relationship. This may seem harsh, but it will be less painful in the long run.

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.

Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: “Abby’s Favorite Recipes” and “More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby.” Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $10 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby – Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447.

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