DEAR ABBY: When I was in my teens, I was kicked out of the house multiple times by my parent. Mind you, I hadn’t done anything wrong. To this day, I’m still trying to figure out what I did to deserve it because it happened so many times.
My parent would get mad, tell me to leave and then beg me to come back home — all within a three-day time span. Luckily, other family members took me in when these episodes occurred.
The same thing is now happening to my younger siblings, and it pains me to see them go through what I did. I try to defend and protect them. Our parent has never been verbally or physically abusive. It is just the kicking out that throws us off.
I’ve mentioned counseling to my parent, but it’s not an option. I love my parent, and I forgave. But I can’t speak for my siblings. — DISCARDED IN SOUTH CAROLINA
DEAR DISCARDED: If a child is a minor, what your parent has been doing is considered child abandonment. IT IS AGAINST THE LAW. Although you have been able to forgive your parent for their abuse (that’s what it was), your younger siblings may not be so generous. Because you are their self-appointed defender, you may have to assume responsibility for them until they become independent — either by taking them in yourself or by arranging for other relatives to do it for longer than three days.
It goes without saying that your parent’s behavior is irresponsible and erratic. If a neighbor or an administrator of your siblings’ school should get wind of this, they would be required by law to report it to the authorities. Counseling is available in many communities on a sliding financial scale. Perhaps if your parent is reminded that there are penalties for what has been going on, they will seek the help they need.
DEAR ABBY: My 14-year-old son, “Jeff,” received word that one of his friends was killed in a tragic ATV accident a week ago. His only experience with death before this was a sick great-grandparent we were able to say goodbye to.
Jeff and I are close, and I have let him know that however he needs to grieve is OK. He says he’s “good.” I am concerned that my son is taking the loss harder than he lets on.
Jeff and his friend loved team sports and were in the same group for summer workouts. Jeff has been to only one workout since his friend’s death. I know this is recent and he needs time, but I also know the physical activity and the camaraderie would be good for him.
I’m trying not to smother him or project my own grief onto him (we are a tight sports community), but I’m unsure what to do. Can you offer some advice on how I can best support him? — GRIEVING, TOO, IN OREGON
DEAR GRIEVING, TOO: When a tragedy happens to someone in a teenager’s circle, the friends sometimes pull together to support each other. Contact the coach of the team to which your son and his late friend belonged. The surviving team members may need help and possibly grief counseling. If that isn’t necessary, the coach may be able to offer the boys other constructive outlets for their grief or provide you with suggestions.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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