Dear Abby: Advice to anxious moms just seems like nonsense

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DEAR ABBY: Why is there so much angst today over raising children, especially in young mothers? I don’t remember my mother or my friends’ mothers being so concerned about whether or not they were doing a good job, and I certainly didn’t gather with my daughters’ friends’ moms to bemoan whether I was a bad mother.

Now there are all these blogs and workshops, etc. on how to be the “best” mom, and all these lifestyle gurus who constantly tell them not to worry, they’re doing a great job. It just seems like a bunch of nonsense to me.

I think it’s because a generation or so back, moms began to elevate their children to top priority in the family over their husbands. What’s your take? — PUZZLED GRANDMA IN THE SOUTH

DEAR PUZZLED: The world is different today. Many women feel torn because they want or need to work, while at the same time they feel pressured to help their children succeed in an increasingly competitive world. (Is the child academically prepared for kindergarten? Is the child able to work cooperatively with others? Is the school highly rated enough? What and how many extracurricular activities will boost her child’s chances of excelling?)

While it may seem like nonsense to you, I assure you it does not seem like nonsense to them. Women of your generation didn’t second-guess themselves because parenting a generation ago was simpler. If children seem to be the No. 1 priority these days it may be because both parents feel driven to succeed and are determined that their children will, too.

DEAR ABBY: I have been married to my husband for 11 years. We are financially and emotionally stable.

We recently became friendly with another couple who are newly married and not as financially secure as we are. They spend frivolously.

When we go on vacation, they invite themselves along and assume they are staying in our travel trailer without asking (they have their own trailer they could bring). They don’t offer to help pay for gas.

The last trip we took, the wife cooked only one meal, while I prepared the rest for a three-day trip. This upcoming trip, they haven’t offered to bring anything.

We don’t mind sharing what we have and helping our friends out, but what we are starting to resent is the assumption that because we make more money, we’ll pick up the tab for everything. Are we wrong to feel this way? My husband and I both see this the same way. — STARTING TO RESENT THEM

DEAR STARTING TO RESENT THEM: It’s not wrong to not want to be taken advantage of. This wouldn’t be happening if you had established some rules in the beginning, but it isn’t too late to do it now.

Call the wife. Tell her what you expect her and her husband to bring on the next trip, and what chores they will be expected to perform.

It isn’t fair that you are doing all the work and paying for everything while they are on your vacation. They should provide — or pay for — half the groceries, half the gas, and share any housekeeping responsibilities. Ditto if you go to a restaurant.

And the next time they tell you they are coming with you on your vacation, don’t hesitate or feel guilty when you reply, “We’d like some privacy this time, so it will just be the two of us.”

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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order “How to Be Popular.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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