Q: I recently graduated from college and moved out of my parents’ house and in with my fiance. My parents have assumed most of the cost of our upcoming wedding after insisting we have a big formal one. I’m also still on their cellphone plan and car and health insurance policies.
I do not agree with my parents’ religious or political views, and they know that. However, my mother insists on connecting with me on social media and regularly sends me texts criticizing me for responding to family members’ negative comments about my very general and inoffensive status updates. She says she’s “disappointed,” and then she and Dad threaten to not pay for the wedding. After a recent argument, she threatened to drop me from their health and car insurance.
Abby, I’m tired of them holding these things over my head. Visiting has become awkward because of their threats. It feels like I’m not welcome in my own family. When I offer to take care of these things myself, my parents act as though I’m being ridiculous and retract their threats. I have threatened to elope with my fiance to alleviate these issues.
I don’t want to be estranged from my parents, but I can’t change who I am as a person and what I believe. How can I deal with this in a way that doesn’t make me as childish as they are? — I Am Who I Am in Minnesota
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A: I have often said that women should not marry until they are independent and can support themselves, because one day they may have to. Your parents treat you like a child they can still control because, financially, you are dependent.
If you didn’t want a big, expensive wedding, you should never have agreed to one. It would not be childish for you to find a job (if you don’t already have one) and buy your own health and car insurance.
It is also time for you and your fiance to tell your parents, in the most loving way possible, that while you are deeply grateful that they want to give you a big, expensive wedding, the two of you have decided to scale it back to something you can manage on your own. And this time don’t make it a threat. Act on it. If you do, you will then be free to think and say whatever you please.
Q: I have started seeing this guy who doesn’t want me to join the police force. I know he cares, but my dream has always been to be a part of the justice system. On the other hand, I don’t want to lose a great guy over this one decision. Do I choose the dream or the guy? — Dreamer in the USA
A: You are jumping the gun in thinking you must make a choice right now. You haven’t mentioned whether you have the qualifications to join law enforcement. If you do, then for you to sacrifice your dream for someone you have only started seeing would be a huge mistake, and I urge you not to do it.