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Dear Abby 4/13

Young man won't stop moping after losing love of his life

DEAR ABBY: One of my sons, "Clayton," is in his early 20s — tall, slim, handsome and intelligent. He dated a girl in high school, "Julie," who was the love of his life. They broke up and got back together several times, until she finally moved on and married a nice young man.
    Clayton graduated from college and has a well-paying job. The problem is, all he does is go to work and stay in his room watching TV (yes, he's still at home with my wife and me) until it's time to go back to work. Rarely does he even eat dinner with us.
    He does go to church on Sunday mornings, but speaks to no one, even though people try to talk to him. Several people his age, male and female, have approached him trying to strike up a conversation, but he is rude to them and won't even say hello.
    He refuses to go to restaurants with us because he "might see someone" he knows. He says that Julie was the only girl for him, and if it's not Julie then he isn't interested in anyone — ever.
    Any suggestions? We don't necessarily want him to date if he doesn't want to, just to have some friends, male or female, and get a life. -- DISTURBED DAD IN SOUTH CAROLINA
    DEAR DISTURBED DAD: I do have one. Your son needs some professional counseling in order to get on with his life. The behavior you have described is not normal. Clayton could be chronically depressed or even mentally ill. Please don't let the status quo continue any longer. See that he gets the help he needs.
    DEAR ABBY: I am a single, 32-year-old woman with an older sister who has 12 grandchildren from her three kids. No matter how hard I try to be fair to all the kids, their parents and grandmother get angry at me for splitting the children into groups and not taking them all together all the time.
    I try to split up the outings into age-appropriate activities, but that apparently isn't good enough. They insist that I am not being entirely fair to the group.
    Abby, I admit I sometimes ask the older children, particularly the three soon-to-be-teenage girls, over for slumber parties a little more often than I do the others — but that's because they are growing too old to want to spend time with their aunt, and I want to take advantage of whatever precious time I have left with them. The little ones will have their turn as pre-teens, too.
    Is there something wrong with splitting them up into smaller groups so I can spend quality time with each instead of simply baby sitting or playing referee? Am I asking too much to expect the parents of the younger children (ages 7 and under) to explain to them that they are just too little to go some places, with the promise of an outing just for them later?
    If you think I'm being unfair, I'll have to stop all the slumber parties because I just can't handle all the kids all the time. But if you agree with me, how do I get their parents to chill out? -- FRUSTRATED AUNT IN INDIANA
    DEAR FRUSTRATED AUNT: There's an old saying, "There are none so blind as those who will not see." In other words, you can't force people to accept something they would rather ignore. You don't need to be sorry for your "shortcomings," which seem perfectly reasonable to me. Entertain the number of kids you are comfortable with, and stop apologizing. From where I'm sitting, you are a loving and attentive aunt, and the children are lucky to have you in their lives.

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