Dear Abby: As busy mom avoids social media, friends call her ‘antisocial’

Woman prefers to isolate when caring for special needs teen and elderly dad becomes too stressful.

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DEAR ABBY: I am a single, stay-at-home mom of a special needs 14-year-old. I also take care of my elderly father. When life starts to overwhelm me, I tend to isolate myself to focus on taking care of my son and Dad and taking care of my mental health.

I haven’t even been on social media in three years. Because of it I have lost touch with many friends and family members. I’m now being called “antisocial” and a few other not-so-nice names. How can I get people to understand that this is how I handle stress and it has nothing to do with them? — STRESSED-OUT IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR STRESSED-OUT: Explain, as you have to me, that when you become stressed, your coping mechanism is to isolate yourself, and your silence is not meant to be offensive. If you are told your silence was hurtful, apologize and point out that because you are stretched thin, sometimes you are overwhelmed and need to quietly recharge. Many people cope with stress the way you do. If it works for you, more power to you.

DEAR ABBY: I’m an 11th-grader. My parents have been putting massive amounts of pressure on me about college, and it’s stressing me into oblivion. When I try to talk to them about it, they tell me I should be, and already should have been, more involved in my college applications process, academics and preparing for college. They say those should be my top priorities right now, and have gone so far as to restrict what I can do — getting a job, hanging out, extracurriculars, etc. How do I get them to lay off? — BURNED-OUT IN SOUTH CAROLINA

DEAR BURNED-OUT: A way to do that would be to show your parents the extent to which you ARE working on your college applications as well as your grade point average. They are trying to make you focus because they fear you won’t be accepted if you don’t. If the pressure is really too much for you, discuss this with a counselor at school, so that person can intercede for you.

DEAR ABBY: My younger daughter, “Bree,” recently moved back into my home after her graduation from university. She’s very opinionated and wants things her way. My other daughter, “Tami,” will be visiting and would like to bring along her new Yorkie, which is fully housebroken. I don’t mind as long as the dog stays off the furniture.

Bree doesn’t like animals indoors (because of negative experiences with a prior roommate’s dog) and has forbidden it. I let her know that this is MY home and she may not “forbid” anything. It blew up into a huge thing, and now Tami has second thoughts about her visit and wants to cancel. Help! — FUR BABY FIASCO IN NEW MEXICO

DEAR FIASCO: Inform Bree, whose sense of entitlement is eyebrow-raising, that she owes her sister an apology for the way she behaved. Reiterate that this is YOUR home and you, not she, will decide who may visit. Then set a realistic date after which Bree should be living independently, because if you don’t, she may wind up ruling your roost.

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 www.DearAbby.com 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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