Parents still worry about kids even after they've grown up

DEAR ABBY: At least “Renee in Oregon” (Sept. 10), who asked her adult daughters for their friends’ phone numbers, cares enough to want someone to call if her adult children don’t respond. I didn’t regard her request as nosy or overbearing, simply so she’d have a “just in case” number. Renee’s daughters sound like ungrateful brats who don’t care anything about worrying their parents.

I’m thankful my four adult children will text me in response to my call to let me know they are OK. I have never had a problem getting a contact number from them for a neighbor or friend. Two of them offered the information without my asking.

I have only had to call a contact once. Thank goodness it was only a matter of a stolen phone, not a sick or injured child. I’m blessed my kids understand that it’s not to get in their business, but a logical safety issue. — LUCKY DAD IN KENTUCKY

DEAR LUCKY DAD: I’m glad for you. The response from readers about Renee’s letter was varied, and it was informative to read their perspectives:

DEAR ABBY: Thanks for your answer to Renee. It validated my whole life as a daughter of a domineering mother.

She is 92. I’m 62 and live 40 miles from her. I have a full-time job, take care of a small farm and still, after my weekly visit, have to call her to let her know I got home OK.

She also asks for my friends’ phone numbers. I give her inaccurate ones so she can’t pester them. My office knows to not put her calls through. I have asked her to call my cell, leave a message and I’ll call her back when I am on break.

When I was younger, if she couldn’t reach me by phone, she would call the police and the ERs, send my poor father to my house to look for me, or call my veterinarian to have him make a farm call just to be sure I hadn’t been ax-murdered.

The negative effect this has had on our relationship is profound. I have tried repeatedly to explain it to her, but she has never “gotten it,” so I have created barriers in order to maintain boundaries. She has a number she can call for her in-home care providers, so if her need is real, she can get help and there’s always 911. I refuse to exist just for her to engulf. PURPOSELY CHILDLESS IN MISSOURI

DEAR ABBY: Sometimes parents do need a contact person for emergencies. At what point should a person have to contact the police?

Years ago, parents here in Northern California didn’t hear from their adult son for a week or two. They thought he was with his live-in girlfriend. She thought he had gone to see them. Sadly, his body was found stuffed in an irrigation pipe weeks later. He had been robbed and murdered.

Hopefully, Renee’s three daughters are close enough to have regular contact with each other and can call their parents on a regular timetable to check in and assure them all is well. CALIFORNIA MOM

DEAR ABBY: Telling Renee she was the reason her daughters moved so far away and don’t answer her calls was unnecessarily hurtful. You have no idea why her daughters are so distant.

A better option would have been to suggest she approach her kids because she is concerned as their mother and they live so far from her. Rather than a list of their friends, she should ask each of them if there’s someone close to them she might use as an emergency contact. ANGIE IN MICHIGAN

DEAR ABBY: I have two daughters. If I asked them for this information, they wouldn’t hesitate to hand it over. I think that’s because my approach with my girls has always been, the more I stay out of their lives, the more they tell me. I empathize with Renee and sincerely hope she learns to back off. NO PROBLEMS HERE

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Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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Good advice for everyone — teens to seniors — is in “The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It.” To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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