DEAR ABBY: I am 38, a mother of three, and my husband and I have been married 16 years. I’m an only child. Daddy passed away 10 years ago.

Now my mother, who is 74 but in good health (according to her doctor, whom I talk to regularly), insists that she “must” come and live with me. My husband has made it clear that she’s not welcome. Mamma has caused untold trouble with virtually every family member over the span of her lifetime, and is cruel and verbally abusive. Her presence in our home would not be positive for our children because she is critical, demanding and impossible to please. I talk to her daily (we live seven hours apart), and every day she tells me how “mean” I am because I won’t allow her to come and live with us.

Abby, I am currently working on my MBA. I would not be where I am without the love and support of my husband and three children. I cannot ask them to bear the burden of my mother, but her constant nagging is making me physically ill. What do I do? I would deeply appreciate and respect your advice. – TORN APART IN TENNESSEE

DEAR TORN APART: For the sake of your family, do not allow yourself to be guilted into letting your mother move in. Offer to help her find a nice residence for active seniors or an assisted living facility if she feels she needs one. (Her doctor might be able to recommend some good ones.) Your mother appears to be a master at guilt and manipulation, and you may need professional help to fend her off. You are both adults, so stop letting her treat you like a naughty child. If necessary, make an appointment with a psychologist to help you through this difficult period.

P.S. Daily phone calls seem excessive. You will feel better if you do not talk to your mother as often as you have been.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 14-year-old girl, and for almost three months I have been e-mailing a 16-year-old boy I’ll call Derek. Derek tells me how much he likes me and how much he would love to date me. I feel the same way, but when I talked to my parents about it, they did not approve.

The reason is Derek’s sexual past. He was having sex in his last relationship, which lasted a little over a year. My parents are concerned that he will expect that from me.

I explained to Derek that if we were to date, I would not go that far. He respected that and promised that he would never force me to do anything I wasn’t comfortable with. I explained this to my parents, but they still don’t trust him.

What can I do to show them I’m trustworthy enough to date an older guy and I can make good decisions for myself? NOT A CHILD IN CASCADE, MONT.

DEAR NOT A CHILD: Your parents know you are not a child, and their concern is not that you are untrustworthy. They are concerned about Derek’s trustworthiness, and whether he is mature enough to make the right decisions regarding his relationship with you in light of the fact that he was having sex with his former girlfriend for more than a year.

Although it is nice that Derek wouldn’t force you to do anything you weren’t comfortable with – which could be regarded as rape, by the way – you should ask yourself if you would both be ready to deal with the consequences if you did “get comfortable.” At 14, you might be ready to socialize as part of a group, but not one-on-one. And one way to earn your parents’ trust is to put some trust in their decisions.

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.

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