Re­luc­tant col­lege stu­dent may ben­e­fit from tak­ing a gap year

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - PROFILES - ABI­GAIL VAN BUREN

DEAR ABBY: My 18-year-old daugh­ter has just grad­u­ated from high school. She has now in­formed me that she’s not go­ing on to col­lege, like we had pre­vi­ously dis­cussed, and be­comes up­set when we try to talk to her. My ques­tion is, should we let her make her own de­ci­sion about this — and pay for it for the rest of her life — or con­tinue to push her into some kind of life skill set? — Life skills in

Mis­souri DEAR LIFE SKILLS: Your daugh­ter may be burned out from study­ing. Rather than “push” her into do­ing some­thing she is sure to re­sent, con­sider al­low­ing her to take a gap year.

This does not mean it should be spent rest­ing on her lau­rels or her fanny. She might ben­e­fit from get­ting a job and learn­ing what the real world is like. It would give her time to ma­ture and, af­ter spend­ing a year in a lower-pay­ing job, she may be­gin to ap­pre­ci­ate the wis­dom of fur­ther­ing her ed­u­ca­tion for the fi­nan­cial ben­e­fit it brings.

DEAR ABBY: I have had a weight prob­lem all my life. What makes it harder is that I have a sis­ter a year younger who can’t gain a pound. She has al­ways been the “hot one” and the cen­ter of at­ten­tion. Peo­ple she has in­tro­duced me to have ac­tu­ally said, “I can’t be­lieve you’re sis­ters” in­stead of “Nice to meet you.”

Of course, my sis­ter is mar­ried, while I am still sin­gle. I hate be­ing around her be­cause I feel like a slug. I’m more phys­i­cally ac­tive than she is, and I eat health­ier. I’m not ugly, but I feel that way around her. Do you have any ad­vice on han­dling this?

— In her shadow in

Mary­land DEAR IN HER SHADOW: For starters, stop com­par­ing your­self to your sis­ter. You are over­due for re­view­ing your own as­sets as an in­di­vid­ual.

You may not be as “metabol­i­cally blessed” as your slen­der sis­ter, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have im­por­tant qual­i­ties that she doesn’t share. Fig­ure out what those are, “pol­ish” them, and you will dis­cover you are a suc­cess­ful per­son in your own right.

If you think your not be­ing mar­ried is a draw­back, it’s time you un­der­stood that mar­riage isn’t a goal; it is only a be­gin­ning. It’s a part­ner­ship, hope­fully a suc­cess­ful one, but it’s not a guar­an­tee of suc­cess in any area.

DEAR ABBY: My son vol­un­teers teach­ing classes at a com­mu­nity cen­ter and is gen­er­ous about as­sist­ing any­one with any­thing he is ca­pa­ble of. But when it comes to help­ing his wife and fam­ily, he never has time be­cause he’s al­ways help­ing strangers. I be­lieve his giv­ing should be­gin at home. How can we get him to see the light?

— Do-gooder’s mom DEAR DO-GOODER’S MOM: While I agree that char­ity should be­gin at home, your daugh­ter-in-law should ad­dress this with your son, not you. Sug­gest she be­gin by ask­ing him why the psy­chic grat­i­fi­ca­tion he re­ceives from help­ing strangers seems to be greater than what he feels from help­ing fam­ily. His an­swer should be an in­ter­est­ing jump­ing-off place for the dis­cus­sion that en­sues. Ev­ery­body needs to feel im­por­tant, and strangers may be more in­clined to ex­press their grat­i­tude. 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 P.O. Box 69440, Los An­ge­les, CA 90069 or visit

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