Dear Abby: Sending teen to her dream school a tall order for parents deeply in debt

While her father says family can’t afford its share of the tuition, mother wants girl to follow her dreams.

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DEAR ABBY: My daughter was accepted at a college of her choice in Pennsylvania that offered loads of grant money. Our out-of-pocket is about $6,000 if she gets a Stafford loan or works this summer to help with the $4,500 that would be the loan. My husband is insisting on a community college, which she doesn’t want to attend. He constantly cites the fact that our house is in foreclosure and that he owes money to the IRS for his business, which is why things can’t be.

I think our children should be able to do things if they’re workable. I encouraged them all through school to do their best and follow their dreams. My husband offered no assistance with homework or anything else. Any compliments they got for extracurricular involvement and excellent grades, he’d always say it was because of me — and rightly so, but it was also them.

Incidentally, our firstborn wanted to go to a particular college, but his father convinced him to go to the community college by promising he’d pay for it and get him a car. He never even taught the poor kid to drive. I offered professional driving lessons, but my son declined.

Now my husband is using the same tactics on my daughter. Should I send her to follow her dreams against his wishes? You can’t stifle them forever. — ENCOURAGING MOM IN NEW YORK

DEAR MOM: With the house in foreclosure and money owed to the IRS, your husband is right to be concerned. Sometimes the best-laid plans go awry because of circumstances beyond our control, specifically the volatile economic climate we have been experiencing.

That said, I think you may be overdue to have a frank talk with your daughter about what she may have to do in order to supplement the grants being offered by the college of her choice. If she is willing to work over the summer and possibly beyond — and considers taking out a student loan of her own — she should be given the chance to live her dream.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been together 15 years. We used to be inseparable. He was my best friend.

Ever since our daughter was born nine years ago, we rarely spend time together. Most of his free time is spent in the basement doing woodworking; I spend my time upstairs or outside. I don’t think he enjoys my company anymore.

I have told him this, and he says it’s not intentional, and he loves me more now than ever. But it feels to me like we are growing apart, and I am very lonely. Because my daughter is who I spend most of my time with, she is the one who suffers my moods when I’m sad and upset with him. What can we do to be friends again instead of just parents? — MISSING IT IN OHIO

DEAR MISSING: Explain to your husband that you are lonely and need more of him than you have been getting since your daughter was born. Start exploring child care options and then schedule some adults-only date nights for just the two of you. This works for many other couples, and it may help the two of you renew some of the excitement that was there when you were child-free.

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 everything you need to know about wedding planning, order “How to Have a Lovely Wedding.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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