College student at odds with mom over joining sorority



Dear Abby: I am a freshman at a Midwestern university, and I love it. I finished my first semester with straight A’s, and my second semester has been strong. I have a great group of friends and have already made plenty of memories. My problem is I have been having a disagreement with my mom. I would like to rush a sorority in the fall, and while my dad is fine with it, my mother won’t even entertain the topic.

I’ve never shared a lot with her regarding my social life because she has always been very strict (for instance, my dad knows I enjoy tailgating and partying as long as my grades are good). I am very responsible and always take care of everything that needs to be completed before I let myself have fun. Dad knows this and trusts me. However, I couldn’t fathom telling my mom about it.

I think part of the problem is she grew up abroad, and when she came to the U.S. for college in the 1990s, she faced a severe culture shock. We have always been very different people. Contrary to what she may think, my main reason for joining a sorority is not “to party.” It’s an attractive option for off-campus housing, and I think it would be an effective way to meet more people (especially at such a big school). If I don’t like how rush pans out for me, I have no issue with dropping out, but I think it would be worth a try.

I want to have an open conversation with Mom, but she is very close-minded. I don’t want to go behind her back, because I think that would only do more harm than good. How should I navigate this conversation?

— Going Greek?

Dear Going: As much as you dread it, you must have a sit-down, comprehensive conversation with your mother about this. Emphasize the benefits of being in a sorority. She may be concerned because in some Greek organizations there have been severe abuses of the pledges, some of which were so dangerous that students lost their lives. You may also want to research the compliance history of the Greek organizations on your campus before addressing the subject with your mother, so you can allay any concerns she has.

Dear Abby: My 27-year-old daughter has issues due to a bitter divorce between her father and me. She treats us poorly, blames her problems on us and feels she is justified. How do I handle this? I don’t think she respects either of us much. As for our relationship, we get along as long as things are going OK for her. But if she’s having a difficult day, I get the blame. Advice?

— Cold-shouldered in New York

Dear Cold-shouldered: Tolerating your daughter’s behavior isn’t healthy for either of you. Encourage her to seek professional help for her “issues,” and when she starts the blame game or being disrespectful, shorten the visit, end the phone call or otherwise distance yourself.

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


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