Question: What can I do about my 20-year-old son wanting to get married to an 18-year-old girl? They are both nice kids, but that's the problem: they're kids. I've spoken to them both at length about waiting. They just won't listen. I know it won't last because they are not mature enough. They still both expect their parents to pay for school and other things. What should we do?
- Dallas, Texas
Dr. Laura: I think it is fair to explain that marriage is adult time. And, as adults, they are expected to take responsibility for their lives, plans, decisions, wants and pleasures. Calmly explain that you do not expect to subsidize or support an adult, married son. Instead of complaining to him about how he is not yet ready to take on the responsibilities of marriage, help him see what he needs to do to get there. That will either make a strong impression and they'll back off, or help him to get prepared and they'll do better.
Question: I overheard some strangers (all guys) in a restaurant talking about what I think was the bachelor party of the husband of a friend of mine. From what I heard, there was naughty stuff going on at that party that I don't know if my friend ever knew about. I think I should tell her what may have transpired. She has the right to know. What do you think?
- Syracuse, N.Y.
Dr. Laura: I think you would not be very happy, nor think I was being fair, if I overheard strangers use your first name in a conversation about a prostitution ring madam - and then called the police to report you. This is precisely why hearsay is not permitted in courts of law. What one thinks one heard, or interprets from the conversations of others, may or may not be related to the truth.
When guys are hanging out talking about exploits, exaggeration and fabrication are not unusual and are for bragging and entertainment's sake. Furthermore, you can't be certain they were talking about your friend's husband simply because the name and the timing seemed reasonable. To destroy domestic tranquillity on the basis of gossip is malicious. I suggest you make an effort in the future not to eavesdrop. I also suggest you not share the specious information with anyone, including your friend.
Question: My mother-in-law has been acting differently over the past six months. We are thinking about cutting her off. She is always complaining about how little time we take for her. Also, she comments about how we show off our things and try to make her feel less important. We don't do any of that and we do spend enough time with her. I am getting annoyed with her and tired of her complaints. Am I justified in cutting her out of our lives?
- Wichita, Kan.
Dr. Laura: No. When someone's behavior changes dramatically, something is wrong and the situation deserves attention and compassion - not rejection and dis-miss-al. Although I think it is always true that a person's complaints in a relationship have some basis in truth (no matter how min-ute), it is also likely that the complaints are a window to a personal, deep problem.
If she is indeed feeling worthless and alone, those are signs of depression. She may be having serious emotional turmoil due to physiological problems - the two are often interrelated. It would be wise to have her assessed by a physician and by a psychiatrist. Depending on her age, we may be looking at menopausal problems. If you believe that she wouldn't trust you or your spouse, talk to someone else who is close to her and solicit their assistance in getting her the proper attention.
Question: I am a 44-year-old woman who is getting worried about menopause. I keep hearing such terrible things about emotional swings, sweats and other physical problems. I am still menstruating on time, but I've been feeling different lately. I don't know how much is in my mind or my body. Any suggestions?
- Denver, Colo.
Dr. Laura: Your concerns and feelings are normal - and so are the changes in your body. What scares women the most is the sense of things happening to them over which they have no control. To some extent, we have to accept reality. However, knowledge gives you a tremendous amount of power - not to change the inevitable, but to be able to handle it better.
You need to learn more about the physiological changes your body is going through, and what nutrition, exercise and possibly hormone therapies can do to help you. In my opinion, the best book available to get you up to speed is Dr. Judith Reichman's "I'm Too Young to Get Old," (Random House, 1996). It is a fabulous book about health care for women after 40, dealing with all the changes and issues of mature women.