TEEN IS DETERMINED TO TURN VIRTUAL ROMANCE INTO MARRIAGEDEAR ABBY: My 17-year-old daughter, "Erica," is planning to marry her 24-year-old boyfriend. I use the term "boyfriend" loosely because their relationship consists entirely of texting, talking on the phone and the Internet. There has been no dating or getting to know each other in person. Erica is intent on marrying this man even though he has lied to her several times in addition to having lied to us. She is planning to attend a four-year college.
I'm not sure how to handle this. She hid the relationship from us for more than six months. I realize Erica needs to make her own mistakes, but I'm not sure how to make her understand my very real concern about this.
I have raised other children who went through various phases of teenage rebellion, but we were able to reach a general compromise on all types of behavior. However, she is unwilling to discuss the possibility of waiting. Any advice would be appreciated. -- NEEDS HELP IN VIRGINIA
DEAR NEEDS HELP: If Erica were my daughter, I'd suggest that because this relationship is so serious it's time you both paid a visit to her intended. Assuming her father is in the picture, he should be there, too. The subject of who will be paying for college should be discussed, and whether Erica will be able to continue her education if she should become pregnant. It may give her a glimpse of exactly what she's letting herself in for before the wedding.
Of course the three of you will want to meet as many of his family and friends as possible. Because Erica won't listen to reason, perhaps seeing will bring her back down to earth. This will also give you (all) a chance to find out what else her "boyfriend" may have been lying about, including his age.
I have told the kids that Dad is wrong and not to be like him, but I'm afraid eventually they may think it's OK to mistreat animals. What should I do? -- CALIFORNIA ANIMAL LOVER
DEAR ANIMAL LOVER: Find Miss Kitty a good home ASAP! Your husband appears to have sociopathic tendencies. Does he exhibit them in any other ways? A man who mistreats animals might also abuse children if they should get in his way or he is in a bad mood.
Of course, your children will be upset when you give their beloved pet away. Explain that it had to be done because she wasn't safe around their father.
Abby, I have never told anyone what to buy my kids, and I'm appalled by this new idea of a Christmas registry. I try very hard to buy great Christmas gifts that my loved ones will enjoy. Am I wrong to think this is rude? -- APPALLED SHOPPER
DEAR APPALLED: I agree your sister's request is presumptuous. But I suppose a Christmas registry is a natural progression from wedding and baby registries. There wouldn't be a Toys R Us registry if it wasn't a successful sales tool for people who don't like to shop. Because you are not one of them, and Christmas shopping brings you pleasure, I suggest you do as you wish.
P.S. Let's see how Sissy responds when you let her know you have adopted her idea and will register at Tiffany's on your next birthday.
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