Dear Margo: This past year has been amazing for me. I successfully passed my first semester in college with a 4.0 while juggling friends and a job. I have a very goal-oriented boyfriend who is compassionate to boot! We have a lot in common and attend the same nerdy clubs at our university.
My problem is my mother. While I love and respect her for struggling to raise my siblings and me as a single mom for 17 years, she has a problem with my changing friends. In high school, I was a recluse who clung to two friends who weren't exactly the best people to hang around with. One used me each time her drug addict friends bailed on her, but my mother thought she was a perfect angel. My other friend (a guy) would constantly berate me about my fashion sense and tore down my self-confidence in order to keep me from having other friends. Mom thinks of them as role models I should keep in my life forever.
Since graduating, however, I have found a group of friends that makes me feel comfortable and accepted. They're nerds like me who enjoy talking about philosophy and social problems, sometimes into the wee hours of the morning. My mother always asks about my old deadbeat friends, and because I live at home, she has a curfew for me — but she didn't for my brother, who, by the way, washed out of college. What can I do? I know I live under her roof and should follow her rules, but I feel as if I deserve a break every now and then. — G.M.
Dear G.: Hats off to you for finding your way, basically on your own. No offense, but your mother does not sound very sensible. If at all feasible, I would try not to live at home. This may not be possible now, so what I would suggest is that you remind your mother of your brother's no-curfew rules relative to his college career, and I'd explain the problems with the friends she "approved of" for you. As they say in surgery, "all bleeding stops," and this tug of war with your mother will not go on forever. — Margo, futuristically
The Chatterbox Family
Dear Margo: I am part of a large family (we are from Hungary) of which my brother and I and our cousins are the first ones to be born in this country. We, of course, are more Americanized than our extended family. One thing I believe has to do with "the old country" is that our parents, aunts and uncles are constantly telling one another what's going on with us. They call us "the younger generation," and our doings seem to provide no end of fascination for them. Is there any way we could tone down all this chatter? I don't really know what to say to my folks. — Seeking Privacy
Dear Seek: If only you were from Russia, I could sympathize with you about the blabbers Karamazov. (Sorry, couldn't resist. That is actually a chapter title from a "literary" advice book called "Much Ado About Loving.") In any case, I kind of understand the old folks' involvement in their children's affairs, don't you, a little? If you feel there is too much information out there, you might try to let your parents know that those of you under 35 wish there was reduced discussion about your personal lives. You also might try telling them less. What you don't know you can't pass on. — Margo, proactively
Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers' daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at www.creators.com/dearmargo. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.