Abby: Opposing parenting styles cause family fracture

Dear Abby
Jeanne Phillips

Dear Abby: My husband’s sister, “Cassie,” and I got along well until we had kids. Our children are months apart in age, and parenting has brought out the differences in our beliefs in a way that has made it hard for us to get along.

I’m a proponent of Western medicine. My kids are vaccinated. We take them to the doctor, give them antibiotics when their doctor prescribes them and emphasize a balanced diet.

Cassie is a proponent of alternative medicine. She doesn’t vaccinate her kids, keeps a vegan house and uses homeopathic remedies and meditation to combat illness.

This difference has resulted in heated arguments about what’s best for kids, and we have not been able to “agree to disagree.”

Recently she sent me a large, and probably expensive, set of herbal remedies as a “gift.” If it were from someone else, I’d thank her and give the set to someone who would use it. But in light of our ongoing “debates,” this feels like a passive-aggressive dig at my values. It would be like me sending her a grass-fed steak and a wheel of Brie.

How should I respond?

Different Medical Beliefs

Dear D.M.B.: Don’t overreact. Write Cassie a sweet note thanking her for her “thoughtfulness” and give the unwanted gift to someone who might use it or toss it. Do NOT let this degenerate into another argument. And let’s hope that her children continue to enjoy good health.

Dear Abby: I am a senior in high school in Texas. Everyone has decided which college they want to go to and what they want to be. I have no clue. It is frustrating, because when adults ask what my plans for the future are and I say I don’t know, they look at me like I’m stupid.

I feel 18 years isn’t long enough to figure all that out. I am an introvert, and I would really like to open up a cute little cafe in New York when I am older. But every time I tell someone this is what I’d like to do, they ask how I’m going to make money at it. They’re right — I can’t make a living off a coffee shop, especially with the high cost of living in New York.

I’m lost and don’t know what to do. I have less than a year to figure things out, and it’s starting to stress me.

Please give me some advice. I need a friend.

Lost in Texas

Dear Lost: You not only need a friend, you also need a counselor to help you find direction. If there isn’t one at your school, consider discussing this with a career counselor at a nearby university or community college. Some courses in business administration would be valuable for you, so you can learn the nuts and bolts about running a business and avoid common mistakes that might cause yours to fail.

Some classes in commercial cooking would also be helpful. If there isn’t a trade school nearby that offers them, consider working for a year or two in the restaurant industry to see how it functions. Many of the best chefs in the world started out that way, and you will learn quickly if this is something you really want to pursue.

P.S. Being an introvert doesn’t have to stop you, if you partner with someone who’s a people person to work the front of the shop and teach you the art of “schmoozing.”

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