Dear Harlan,

I knew it would be really hard when my daughter left for college – and boy, has it ever been. She started dating a longtime friend before she left, and now she has him to talk to, so she doesn’t call or text me. It has been a while, and I still just really miss her. When she does come home, she runs out to his house to see him. I know it sounds silly, but I feel so left out. I am starting to come around — I mean, this is what I always wanted for her, right? So why am I fighting it? I am happy that she is happy with this boy, I really am. But her being away at school and then with him leaves little time for me. I know, I know — that sounds so childish. But going from having some time with her every day for the past 18 years to nothing at all is hard. I know I need to keep busy and give myself time, but the truth is that I just really miss her, plain and simple. I am waiting for the day I wake up and just feel happy that she is happy. Right now I am, but I just want to share some of it. We fought really hard to have what I would say is a good and honest relationship, so I just hope we can keep it going. I think that macro class I flunked when I was in college was easier! — Missing My Daughter

Dear Missing Your Daughter,

She doesn’t need her mommy right now. But she will — oh, will she ever need you! And the more space you give her while showing her that you love her, the more she will reach out to you when she needs you. She’ll need you for wedding planning (if she gets married), the birth (if she has a child), birthday parties, in-law drama, career choices, baby-sitting, special moments, special occasions and other life transitions. She doesn’t even understand how much she will want you or need you. There are times when a daughter needs her mom. When you get sad and miss her, remind yourself that you will be needed. Gently, remind her that you love her. Bake her cookies and send them. Write a card and send it. Visit her (call first). Plan a special weekend away, just for girls, and do something she loves. In the meantime, be sad, be grateful and find things you want to do that will fill your time while she grows up. You are so needed. Just not as much right now.

Dear Harlan,

A lot of people I’m friendly with drink alcohol, but I’m not a drinker. If you don’t drink and don’t want to start drinking, how do you explain it to people so they don’t get turned off? What’s the best approach? — Sober

Dear Sober,

Don’t too much time worrying what drunk people think about you. Seriously, if someone is going to judge you because you don’t drink, you need to pick better friends. The best approach is to bring it up when it comes up. When someone asks if you want a drink, just say “no.” If someone asks why you don’t drink, you can explain that you’re not a drinker but you don’t have a problem hanging out with people who drink. If anything, you can volunteer to be the designated driver. The less attention you draw to not drinking, the less people will care.

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