Q: I grew up in a poor family on a farm in the South. I worked very hard during my childhood. Throughout my childhood, I was told I was a “bad girl” who always did the wrong things or who would never stop talking. When I was 16, I moved more than 1,000 miles away. My mother happily drove me to the airport to go and live with my 21-year-old boyfriend.
I am 29 now and still live more than 1,000 miles away. To this day, when I try to discuss (with my mother) why she sent me away so young, she tells me I was “too difficult of a child” and that was what I wanted, so she signed me over at the end of 10th grade before summer break. I will never forget how happy she was to drop me off at the airport.
I wasn’t the greatest child, I know. I know I was bad. Can 16-year-olds choose where and with whom they live? Or should the parents make those decisions? Please help me. — Lost and Lonely
A: It’s a shame that when babies emerge they don’t bring with them a set of detailed instructions. You appear to be the daughter of a woman who didn’t know how to be a good mother.
Children who receive positive reinforcement for good behavior are usually better behaved than those who have it drilled into them from a young age that they are “bad.” When that happens, a child begins to believe what the parent is saying and act on it.
While some 16-year-olds are mature enough to decide where and with whom they want to live, it is usually with a relative or qualified guardian and not a boyfriend. However, from reading your letter, I can’t escape the feeling that what’s really bothering you is the idea that, by giving in to your wishes, your mother rejected you. To work that through, you may need the help of a licensed therapist.
Q: I am a girl in my junior year of high school. My boyfriend of three years is very good to me, affectionate, attentive and very good looking. I don’t think he cheats on me, but he does have serious flatulence. He thinks it’s hilarious and does it in public just to embarrass me to death. He also does it at the end of lovemaking, which I think is gross and he thinks is the funniest thing in the world.
Abby, he’s the only serious boyfriend I have ever had. Are all guys this gross and inappropriate? It’s putting a serious damper on how I feel about him. Please help me to save our relationship. — Tired of Natural Gas in Florida
A: Your boyfriend’s problem isn’t his flatulence; it’s his immaturity. Young children think flatulence is fall-down funny, but they usually outgrow the kind of humor you describe by the time they reach his age.
Tell him what he’s doing isn’t funny to you, that it is making you think less of him and will be a deal-breaker if he doesn’t stop. If you do, it may save the relationship, unless you want to continue being the girlfriend of the class clown. (Or should I say, “NO-class clown”?)
Write Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.