Fam­ily never learns to let up on crit­i­cism of ca­reer choice

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - YOUR DAILY BREAK -

I grew up the third of four chil­dren. Both my older broth­ers chose to go into en­gi­neer­ing (the field my fa­ther is in). I rocked the boat and opted to go into ed­u­ca­tion. All dur­ing col­lege and af­ter, my par­ents con­tin­ued to tell me I had cho­sen the wrong ca­reer and would never have any money.

Ten years later, I’m still get­ting con­stant com­ments about my ca­reer choice and fi­nan­cial sta­tus. They make lit­tle jabs like, “... but we know you can’t af­ford it,” and, “Is this too ex­pen­sive for you?” which echo at fam­ily gath­er­ings to the point that nei­ther my hus­band nor I want to be there.

We both work hard and, while we might strug­gle, we never ask for fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance. How can I get my fam­ily to stop these com­ments? They’re hurt­ful. — Ed­u­ca­tor in the Mid­west

DEAR ED­U­CA­TOR >> You are be­ing picked on not only be­cause of your ca­reer choice and its salary level, but also the fact that you didn’t fall into line as your sib­lings did and do what your par­ents wanted.

Much as we might wish to, we can­not dic­tate the be­hav­ior of oth­ers. If you have told your fam­ily their com­ments bother you and they per­sist, you will have to fo­cus on the im­por­tance of the field you chose and the con­tri­bu­tion to so­ci­ety you are mak­ing. And at­tend those fam­ily gath­er­ings less of­ten.

DEAR ABBY >> “Lonely Widow in Ft. My­ers, Fla.” (May 16) asked why friends ig­nore a wo­man when she be­comes a widow. I ex­pe­ri­enced the same thing when I was wid­owed at 50.

There are sev­eral rea­sons why friends drop you when your spouse dies. One is fear of their own mor­tal­ity. An­other is per­haps the hus­band (or wife) was the so­cial one. Or the women are afraid you are go­ing to steal their hus­band.

I was hurt at first, but then I re­al­ized they were not true friends. I now have new friends who are wid­owed, di­vorced or mar­ried, and I’m en­joy­ing ev­ery minute we share. — Joy in Ne­vada

DEAR JOY >> I am glad for you. Many read­ers wrote to share their ex­pe­ri­ences and their thoughts on that let­ter. Some sug­gested that friends may not in­vite the wo­man be­cause they don’t want her to feel like a “third wheel,” but ad­vised “Lonely” to speak up and tell them that, in­deed, she WOULD like to be in­cluded. Oth­ers thought peo­ple as­sume a widow is emo­tion­ally needy, so they don’t want to be in­volved with her.

Some read­ers also wondered how of­ten “Lonely” and her hus­band had in­vited sin­gle women to join them for a meal, week­end out­ing or evening event while he was still alive. The an­swer to that ques­tion could pro­vide in­sight.

A ma­jor­ity of those who wrote agreed with me that it’s im­por­tant that “Lonely” cul­ti­vate new in­ter­ests, and along with them, new friends. One reader’s church formed a group for widows that in­cludes monthly lunch out­ings at dif­fer­ent restau­rants. An­other sug­gested that “Lonely’s” se­nior cen­ter friends should start invit­ing each other out for var­i­ous en­ter­tain­ment op­tions. She should also be en­cour­aged to meet peo­ple in dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions, or even con­sider mov­ing for a fresh start.

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.

Dear Abby

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