Stay-at-home mom seeks adult contact by giving art lessons

DEAR ABBY: I am a shy, 30-year-old woman. I stay at home with our 10-month-old, primarily because of our family’s financial situation.

I am gifted in the visual arts, but because I don’t have an art degree, I’m unable to pursue a professional job in the arts. Instead, I have been advertising to teach private art lessons at home. One month in, I have one student.

The past months have been lonely, and I am aching for friendship. My husband doesn’t seem to understand this. We know one family, but we are not close. I am considering offering free lessons to their kindergartner because it would not only help me to develop professionally, but also give me some adult interaction, which I desperately need. Again, my husband doesn’t understand this, and doesn’t want me to teach this child for free. How can I make him see? — UNFULFILLED ARTIST IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR ARTIST: Your husband appears to be unusually controlling. Have you told him the reason you want to give the family free art lessons is so you can have some much-needed adult interaction? If you haven’t, you should, rather than keep silent.

He should not be isolating you the way he appears to be, which strikes me as worrisome. Is his motivation for keeping you in the house and away from others the money or something else?

I think you should try doing what you have in mind and see how it works out. And if there are other young mothers in your area who gather so their children can socialize, perhaps you could attend and make some friendships there. If your husband continues to be as possessive as he appears to be, consider calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233 for suggestions.

P.S. I encourage you to go for that degree as soon as you are financially able.

DEAR ABBY: My grandson is 16, a good student, a great athlete and popular. We are very proud of him. The problem is, he has terrible acne and picks at his face constantly.

His mother, my daughter-in-law, is a nurse practitioner and a germaphobe. I’m constantly surprised that she doesn’t take him to a dermatologist and remind him to keep his hands away from the sores on his face. I know it isn’t my place to correct him or suggest a dermatologist. She certainly is aware that he has a problem, but she acts like it doesn’t bother her.

While I realize this is a stage many teenagers go through and it will pass, his constant picking keeps his face red and looking irritated. Is there anything I can say or do to help without intruding in their space? — CARING GRANDMA IN TEXAS

DEAR GRANDMA: Yes. Your grandson would not be picking at the pimples if they didn’t bother HIM. Point out to your daughter-in-law that while your grandson’s acne may be “just a phase,” there are things that can be done to clear it up, and the solution is to consult a dermatologist before he gives himself scars that may last a lifetime. This would not be intruding. It would be acting like the loving, caring grandparent that you are.


DEAR ABBY: I’m 17 and don’t know what I want to do with my life. When I was younger, I was sure I wanted to go into the field of law. It was something my parents also wanted me to do.

I go to a very rigorous high school that’s known for being challenging, and haven’t been doing well grade-wise since I started. I used to be a straight-A student but have been getting B’s and C’s lately. This year in particular has been difficult because my parents are getting divorced.

I’m not sure if I want to be a lawyer anymore or even continue my education after college. When I talked with my parents about it, they got very mad and insisted I finish my education, become a lawyer and get a job. They don’t want to give me any other option. Can you give me some suggestions about how I can not be so confused anymore? — CONFUSED IN MICHIGAN

DEAR CONFUSED: This is something you should discuss with a counselor at your school. While I concur with your parents that it is important to complete your education, there are other ways to do it rather than become a lawyer. I say this because in some states there is a glut of law school graduates who, after all their effort and accrued student loan debt, cannot find jobs because there are no openings available for them.

EDITOR’S NOTE: 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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.