When parents fight, this teen's a referee

Posted: July 01, 2013

D EAR ABBY: I'm 13. My parents fight a lot. When they fight, I try to get in between them and keep it down. It's not very effective, though. I don't want their fighting to leak out. Therapy doesn't seem possible.

Do you have some tips to keep them from fighting with each other? I'm an only child and don't have any relatives who live nearby.

- The Referee

DEAR REFEREE: Parents fight for many reasons, none of them having to do with you. The problems could be lack of money, job stress or something in their relationship with each other that isn't working.

If it were possible for you to fix their marriage, I would advise you how to do it, but the only people who can do that are your parents themselves - if they are willing. If their fighting escalates to violence, rather than put yourself in the middle, you should call the police.

DEAR ABBY: I finished college a year ago and officially moved out of my parents' house. I then moved across the country for a job.

For the past three months I have been dating this great guy, and while I talk to my parents frequently on the phone, I have yet to mention him because I'm shy about it and don't know how they would react to me dating.

I don't want the relationship to go on for months and not tell them because I feel like they will treat it as if I'm a teenager dating for the first time. This is a serious adult relationship and not like a teen's first boyfriend. How do I tell them?

- Adult Relationship in Arizona

DEAR ADULT: While you're not experienced, you're no teenager. Your parents can minimize the importance of your relationship only if you allow them to. The longer you keep this a secret, the harder it will be for you to open up.

One way to introduce the subject would be to start saying "we" when you talk about where you're going and what you're doing. If they ask who the "we" is, you can then tell them you met someone, that you are seeing him, etc. Be prepared for questions and don't be defensive. They should be overjoyed at the news you are dating.

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