Thursday, July 27, 2006
Dear Annie: I am 23 years old and the youngest of five children. Today, I found out that my father has been having an affair. My mother caught him. Dad admitted to having a relationship with a younger woman and said he wants a divorce.
I grew up with my parents always yelling at each other. Our home was in constant turmoil, so this situation does not surprise me. However, I am confused about my feelings and want to avoid taking sides. I worry how my mother will get through this, if there's a wicked stepmother in my future, and how we will manage. Part of me is upset with my father, but another part feels sorry for him. I know my mother hasn't been the best wife. I realize this doesn't excuse the affair, but still.
My older siblings are concerned about me since I'm the youngest and I still live with my parents. However, I just purchased my own home and will be moving out in a few weeks.
I feel like my world has been turned upside down. Even though I'm an adult and will soon be completely independent, I don't know how to behave. Please help. No Need For a Name
Dear No Need: When parents divorce, it is hard on the kids, no matter what age they are. It is important for you to remain neutral and refuse to get involved in their disputes. You can sympathize with Mom without trashing your father. You can be friendly with Dad without letting him excoriate your mother. If they try to force you into the middle, tell them, "Sorry, I'm not going to do that." You can find help and resources online through Adult Children of Divorce (acod.net).
Dear Annie: I am 12 years old. I don't have a big bra size, and I have a flat butt. The way I look never really bothered me until this year. "Benny," a kid in my class, constantly makes fun of me and says I'm flat-chested. His remarks are lowering my self-confidence a lot.
My mom says he does it because he likes me, but I beg to differ. I've asked him to stop, but then he makes fun of me even more. What should I do? Confused in Illinois
Dear Confused: First of all, you are not finished growing, and that includes your chest and your butt. In a couple of years, Benny will have to find something else to tease you about -- and he will, because he is very interested in getting your attention. In the meantime, put a big smile on your face and tell him that, right now, you are putting all your effort into expanding your brain. Suggest he do the same.
Dear Annie: I would like to respond to "Midwest Mom," whose ex-husband is receiving their kid's sports-related permission slips. She was baffled about this, since she receives other information from the school in a timely fashion.
At the elementary level, most notices and information are distributed through the classroom teacher. However, extracurricular notices are sometimes distributed by Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) members, coaches or others who make incorrect assumptions about who gets the information.
I suggest "Midwest Mom" send a letter to the principal, requesting that both she and her ex-husband receive copies of all permission slips. Indicate that payments are her responsibility, but she wants both parents to be aware of upcoming events. Enclose a set of self-addressed, stamped, legal-sized envelopes, and ask the principal to share your request with office staff, PTO officers and coaches. This way, she will appear to be looking out for the best interests of her child and not involved in a power struggle with her ex. Third- Grade Teacher in Indiana
Dear Indiana: We hope parents in this situation will take the time to follow your advice, but in this day and age, people ought to know better than to make such assumptions.
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