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Dear Abby

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FOOD - Abi­gail Van Buren Dear Abby is writ­ten by Abi­gail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. For an ex­cel­lent guide to be­com­ing a bet­ter con­ver­sa­tion­al­ist and a more so­cia­ble per­son, or­der “How to Be Pop­u­lar

Read­ers de­fend par­ents who dis­ap­prove of co­hab­i­ta­tion.

DEAR READ­ERS: On May 5, I printed a let­ter from a par­ent, “Against the Tide in New Jersey.” He said his “in­de­pen­dent, in­tel­li­gent, lov­ing” daugh­ters (both in their late 20s) have dated their boyfriends for five years and had re­cently moved in with them. The man also said he and his wife ap­prove of the young men.

One daugh­ter is plan­ning to have an open house and in­vited her par­ents. The writer said his daugh­ter is up­set be­cause he and his wife refuse to at­tend be­cause co­hab­i­ta­tion is against their be­liefs. He said he and his wife “un­der­stand her de­ci­sion,” but their daugh­ter doesn’t ap­pear to re­spect theirs. He asked, “Are we wrong?”

I re­sponded yes, be­cause it’s no longer un­usual for cou­ples to co­habit be­fore mar­riage. I asked how long they plan to con­tinue pun­ish­ing the daugh­ter and said I don’t think they have any­thing to gain by do­ing so. Thou­sands of an­gry read­ers wrote to com­ment. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: Co­hab­i­ta­tion is NOT a sub­sti­tute for mat­ri­mony. I re­al­ize it is “not un­usual for cou­ples to­day to live to­gether.” How­ever, you must cer­tainly be aware that many re­li­gious peo­ple re­gard do­ing so as a sin against God. Should the par­ents com­pro­mise their be­liefs to at­tend, sim­ply be­cause their daugh­ter’s re­la­tion­ship is “pro­gress­ing nicely”? Why do you feel that stand­ing up for their be­liefs is “pun­ish­ing” their daugh­ter and her live-in? I wish you would ad­dress this again. – DIANNE IN LUB­BOCK, TEXAS

DEAR DIANNE: I try to deal with things as they are, and not as some peo­ple think they ought to be. To­day many cou­ples have cho­sen to live to­gether be­fore mar­riage. Some are try­ing to avoid the un­hap­pi­ness they saw in their par­ents’ mar­riages. Oth­ers re­al­ize that you don’t re­ally know some­one un­til you have lived with him or her. Di­vorce is messy, not to men­tion ex­pen­sive on many lev­els, and they want to avoid the pain if pos­si­ble – although few sep­a­ra­tions are pain­less.

I be­lieve that par­ents should choose their bat­tles care­fully af­ter their chil­dren be­come adults. What these par­ents are do­ing may even­tu­ally iso­late them from their daugh­ters. Act­ing as they are, there may be other happy oc­ca­sions they’ll be skip­ping. This one is just the first.

DEAR ABBY: If the let­ter writer and his wife ac­cept an in­vi­ta­tion to some­one’s house, do they check first to make sure their hosts share their “val­ues,” that they vote the same way, are against gay mar­riage, have the same re­li­gious be­liefs? If they don’t take that same care with ev­ery­one they know, they are be­ing un­fair to their daugh­ters.

For five years they were ap­par­ently com­fort­able with the daugh­ters liv­ing at home or in their own apart­ments and hav­ing sex with their boyfriends on the sly. Now that the young women are hon­estly ac­knowl­edg­ing the sex­ual re­la­tion­ship and for­mal­iz­ing it by liv­ing to­gether openly, sud­denly there’s a prob­lem. There’s a stench of hypocrisy here. – ONLINE DEAR ABBY READER

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