Dear Amy: I’m a 29-year-old, still living at home. I want to go back to school and get my master’s degree.
It would be cheaper to attend classes online, but if I lived on campus I could get my own apartment and have more privacy. I believe my mental health would improve because my parents drive me crazy.
However, I probably won’t be able to afford to go on vacations since my financial aid will go mostly to room and board.
What should I do?
Dear Wondering: Vacations? What are they, again? Why are you worrying about vacations? (And yes, your financial aid must go toward your educational expenses, not vacations.)
Vacations are excursions that parents take their children on, or experiences that hard-working people save for and look forward to.
You’re grown, now, and the “vacation” phase of your life is in the past – and the future.
As a learning and laboring graduate student, you will have time off from work and school, but you should not necessarily expect to go on vacations during these breaks.
So, yes, you should invest in living on or near campus as you move into this impressive and exciting new phase of life.
In addition to your financial aid, you should leap at any opportunities to serve as a TA for an undergraduate course, or work on-campus at a lab or the library.
Your breaks between semesters might be “staycations,” where you go to the movies every day for a week, eat takeout sitting on the couch with friends, or take mini-trips to local museums.
Later on, once you’ve earned your degree and started working in your profession, taking vacations will become possible – and important – again.
Dear Amy: I recently reached out to my estranged father to inquire about any life changes he may have had recently, because I was going through the federal security clearance process.
When asked if he was still married, his response was, “Theoretically yes, but I haven’t had contact with her for over six years and have no intention of renewing contact.”
Knowing my father, I am unsurprised that he is currently married to someone whom he has no contact with and is unwilling to divorce.
However, I am mad at him for once again treating marriage as a trivial affair he can walk away from with no consequences. I pity his partner and sometimes wonder if I should convince her to divorce him and take her fair share.
While I understand that this is between him and his “technical wife” (using his terms), I feel like this is a matter that does involve me from a legal perspective. I do not want to fight a legal battle regarding powers of attorney or probates 20 years down the line. (I am an only child.)
I want to share my concerns, but I feel like my efforts would be futile knowing how his emotional immaturity leads to avoidance and broken promises.
I have located the woman through Facebook. At the very least, I do want to hear her side of the story.
Is this something that does not concern me and would cause more distress for everyone? Or is this something I should pursue to find some kind of conclusion?
I would appreciate any feedback from you.
Dear Bee: Other than your own curiosity, I’m not sure why you are motivated to contact your father’s estranged wife in order to hear “her side of the story.” Doing so would entangle you in a situation between a stranger (the wife) and an unreliable person you don’t seem to know well (your father).
You should research the inheritance laws of the state where your father resides and try to head off problems by encouraging him to focus on some estate planning. Given how avoidant he is, he might duck and weave; you should take this in discrete stages (not confronting him with a possibly overwhelming bundle of issues all at once).
Based on answers he provides and how he behaves, you can then decide whether to contact your father’s “technical” wife in order to clarify their emotional and legal status.
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