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Dear Abby: I am 39 and have been at my job for 15 years. I don’t enjoy it and haven’t since Day One. The work is stressful and doesn’t bring me one single ounce of gratification. I have always wanted to be an elementary school teacher, but now I’m afraid that ship has sailed.

I’m currently back in college for business (my job helps to pay my tuition) and feel like I’m not being fair to myself. I don’t like finance, and I was never good at math. I get paid well and am well-invested in my retirement plan, but I’m miserable every minute I must sit in my little cubicle. I consider it my jail cell. I need advice on where to take my career because I’m not getting any younger. Or is it too late?

– Over The Hill in New Jersey

Dear O.T.H.: You are not incarcerated, and you are only as trapped as you choose to make yourself. Most colleges have career counseling services, and you should avail yourself of them.

If teaching children is your heart’s desire, you will have to take the time to prepare for it, know ahead of time what opportunities are available and what the compensation is. Make it your business to find out before making any drastic changes. You’ll be glad you did.

A rift beyond fixing?

Dear Abby: I fervently want to help my daughter and her father (my ex) fix their relationship. They are a lot alike – bullheaded and stubborn. They can’t see how much they hurt each other.

My daughter feels he has chosen his “new” family (wife and stepchildren) over her because she isn’t invited to family game nights, dinners out, etc. He feels she doesn’t appreciate what he does for her.

She’s expecting a baby (our first grandchild) in December, and I think they should try to mend fences before the birth occurs. We lost our son (her brother) three years ago, and I know this figures into the family dynamic as well. I just don’t want to see them hurt each other anymore. Can you help me fix this?

– Anxious in Colorado

Dear Anxious: I wish you had clarified what your ex “does” do for his daughter, because from your description it appears he has done the minimum and little else. Having been excluded from “family game nights and dinners out,” it’s natural that she would feel her father made a new family and left her in the dust.

While I admire your impulse to be the peacemaker, I don’t think you can fix this. Family counseling might be able to mend the rift, but only if all parties are willing.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 60069.