DEAR AMY: I moved out five months ago (at the age of 19) during my parents' lengthy, emotionally challenging divorce. They have admitted to taking their frustrations out on me. When I left, they were furious and offended. They accused me of walking out on the family, and constantly reminded me that I ruined my opportunity to succeed in life. I have done better on my own than I expected and it has made me a mature, independent young adult. My parents are texting/calling me every day. They beg me to come over for regular visits. This would be tolerable except they remain bitter and pessimistic. They corner me and interrogate me on how much money I have, how I'm doing in school and how many times a week my boyfriend sleeps over. They pressure me to move back home. I have a job, a car and I go to university and pay my bills on time. Amy, I'm not going to let them continue to use me as a punching bag for their emotional troubles. How can we have a relationship?

-- Ramen Girl

DEAR RAMEN: The answer to how you can have a relationship with your folks is . . . very carefully. Basically, you will have to teach them how to treat you. If their negativity and emotional demands are too much for you, you should limit the amount of time you spend with them, and every time you visit you should make sure you have an escape hatch.

If you have siblings, try to be a presence in their lives, but you are not responsible for your parents.

DEAR AMY: "Not the Perfect Wife" complained that her husband "wouldn't let her" call a plumber to fix a persistently leaking faucet. "Wouldn't let her" call a plumber? What's that about?

-- Wondering

DEAR WONDERING: Many readers picked up on this. But I think this husband was passively controlling his wife through making promises: "Don't call a plumber because I'll get to it."


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