Dear Abby: I grew up in a poor family on a farm in the South. I worked very hard during my childhood. Throughout my childhood, I was told I was a “bad girl” who always did the wrong things or who would never stop talking. When I was 16, I moved more than 1,000 miles away. My mother happily drove me to the airport to go and live with my 21-year-old boyfriend.
I am 29 now, and still live more than 1,000 miles away. To this day when I try to discuss (with my mother) why she sent me away so young, she tells me I was “too difficult of a child” and that was what I wanted, so she signed me over at the end of 10th grade before summer break. I will never forget how happy she was to drop me off at the airport. I wasn’t the greatest child, I know. I know I was bad. Can 16-year-olds choose where and with whom they live? Or should the parents make those decisions? Please help me. — Lost and Lonely
Dear Lost and Lonely: It’s a shame that when babies emerge they don’t bring with them a set of detailed instructions. You appear to be the daughter of a woman who didn’t know how to be a good mother. Children who receive positive reinforcement for good behavior are usually better behaved than those who have it drilled into them from a young age that they are “bad.” When that happens, a child begins to believe what the parent is saying and act on it.
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