Dear Abby: I'm 17 and so is my boyfriend. He is an only child, and all throughout his life, his parents have put a lot of pressure on him. Recently, they've been talking about him getting into an honors program in a college. Abby, his parents act like if he doesn't get in, they won't be proud of him. He always feels like he's disappointing them because they never give him any words of encouragement or let him know he's on the right track.
It seems to me that he just wants to know that they're proud of him. It's hard for me to constantly try to support him through this because he needs his parents' approval, and I can't give that to him. Is there any way I can help him? He refuses to talk it out with his parents, but I just want them to be on the same page. Can I help without getting too involved with their family dynamics? — There For Him in Dallas
Dear There For Him: Much as you would like to help your boyfriend, if you approach his parents about the way they are raising their son, it won't help the situation. The odds are great that it will cause them to resent you. However, if your boyfriend would discuss this with a counselor at school or a teacher he trusts, that person — an educator who is a contemporary of your boyfriend's parents — might suggest that their son needs positive reinforcement to reach his full potential.
Dear Abby: I was married for many years to my ex-wife. I met another woman, wound up divorced, and I am now with this other woman.
The problem is, my ex is disabled. Somebody stays with her during the week and cooks for her and such. Sundays are different, and I usually bring food to her, which takes about an hour.
My new lady friend is having a fit about this to the point that we may break up over it. Am I wrong for helping my ex, who has very little family and no children? — Good Deed Punished in Mississippi
Dear Good Deed: You are a kind and caring individual. That your new lady friend cannot recognize this for what it is, an act of compassion, and realize that you would do the same for her if she needed it, is sad. You are not wrong for helping your ex, since there is no one else who seems willing. If this woman is so threatened that she can't cut you some slack one hour a week, perhaps breaking up would be best for both of you.
Dear Abby: I am biting my tongue all the way through at work. One co-worker regularly brings her breakfast to eat. The other, even worse, comes in with wet hair and uses a curling iron at her computer station — in shared space! Am I too old-fashioned? — Biting My Tongue
Dear Biting: Many people bring their breakfast to work. Unless there is a rule against it, I see nothing wrong with it.
As to your other co-worker, I agree what she's doing is inappropriate. She'd probably do a better job if she groomed herself in the restroom or at home before work. Is your supervisor or boss aware she's doing it? If not, the person should be informed. If so, then MYOB.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.