DEAR ABBY: My parents divorced when I was in third grade, and my sister and I lived with my mother. When I was 16, Mom met a man online, quit her job and moved across the country to be with him. My sister and I begged her to let us finish school first, but she was adamant about moving. She gave us a choice — move with her to another state or move in with our father. We chose the latter.

Since then, my mother has not been a part of my life. I invited her to my wedding, but she didn't attend. When I think of my mother, I associate her with feelings of abandonment and unhappiness.

Mom called me last week, and frankly it was upsetting. I have heard from others how unhappy she is with her life and the choices she made, although she hasn't said it to me directly. I find it painful to hear her say she loves me, because there's a difference between saying it and living it.

Is there a moral obligation to allow her back into my life? I believe you can't help what happens in your childhood, but you can decide how you let it affect you. Or is it OK to stay on the path I have chosen and keep my distance from her?

— Morally Perplexed in Texas

DEAR PERPLEXED: If a closer relationship with your mother would be dangerous for you emotionally, then you shouldn't risk it. It is not your fault that the life she chose didn't turn out to be a happy one for her. After years of being treated with indifference by her, if you choose to keep your distance, I support your decision. n