I’ve been following your column for a long time, and your advice is very helpful (in fact, you answered a previous question of mine quite insightfully; I ended up not seeing that particular gentleman any more, but learned something about myself in the process).What’s troubling me right now is that I feel like a nonentity in my family. In some families, money or professional success is the means of getting respect; in my family, it appears to be a sound marriage and one or several children. I am 28, reasonably successful, self-supporting for the most part) for nearly six years, and have goals for the future.However, I feel like an outcast in my family; I went to college out of town, moved an hour away from my family, had one long-term relationship that ended painfully a year ago and a string of aborted short-term episodes, not to mention that I have manic-depression (which has not prevented me from working, thankfully).Since there are no prospects for a husband on the horizon (all the men I meet are predatory or seeking a mother-figure/free therapist), it seems the only way to earn any kind of respect in my family would be to have a baby, with or without the biological father ‘s support. I even have a candidate in mind; he’s 25, healthy and good-looking, and he would have no objection if I told him all I wanted was his name on the birth certificate.I make a decent salary and can find reasonably priced day care. I want someone to love so badly, and it seems this is my only option.Signed,Ticking Away
Glad to hear from you again and glad that I was able to help you the last time around. You are experiencing a value conflict between you and your family. They put a high value on marriage and children and don’t highly value your success in other areas. It’s as if the stork dropped you down the wrong chimney!I know what your parents want, but it isn’t clear what you want for yourself. You are only 28, which is rather young to be giving up on finding a good life partner. I am worried that you would be having a child just to please your parents, and that surely isn’t the right reason to be doing so.If you can say to me that you want a child with or without a life partner, then the decision to be impregnated by this 25 year old stud would be right. If, on the contrary, you are making this decision in order to adhere to your parents’ expectations and values, then don’t do it. You can surely survive their disappointment, especially if you surround yourself with people like me who believe in you and are proud of you.I am sorry to hear that your family makes you feel like an outcast. Instead of their casting you out, it’s time for you to think about casting them out. In other words, take action on your own behalf rather than allow them to act upon you. I am not saying to cut them off or cut them out. I am saying that you can begin to mentally and emotionally cast their dictates out of your mind and heart.You can begin to separate from their ‘craziness’ and make a life for yourself in which your values are what count, not theirs. Becoming a member of a therapy group will provide you with a new, second chance family that accepts you for who and what you are. This experience will help you to emotionally distance yourself from your family so that they can no longer have a damaging effect.