DEAR ABBY: I’m a 15-year-old girl who has two younger brothers. My parents are good people, but they can be extremely harsh and cruel. They curse us out and scream at us for petty things almost every day. I told my best friend about it and she said that it is emotional abuse. I disagree.
I have always been told that every parent yells at their kids. Maybe not every day, but regardless, everyone gets mad sometimes. I honestly didn’t even think there was such a thing as emotional abuse.
I don’t know what to do. I have been suffering this almost my entire life. I didn’t think that it was abuse. AM I being emotionally abused? I would appreciate your help. — Tired of the Tirades
DEAR TIRED: The answer to your question is yes, your friend is correct. Because your parents have been doing this on a regular basis, it qualifies as verbal/emotional abuse. Be glad you now recognize it, because their lack of control isn’t normal.
Their anger and frustration may have nothing to do with you and your siblings. The problem with this kind of abuse, as opposed to physical abuse, is that although it is damaging, it is often not taken seriously.
If there are family members or close friends who can intervene, help your parents to see how damaging their lack of control is and convince them to get help, you should confide in them. It might be a good idea for you and your brothers to spend as much time with friends in healthier families as you can. This will get you out of the line of fire and enable you all to see what normal family interactions are like.
DEAR ABBY: I have been dating a divorced man, “Chris,” for four years. He has a son who is 16. On the weekends Chris has his son, I become the “invisible girlfriend.” Sometimes the three of us will go to a movie or out to eat, but I am NEVER welcome to spend the night.
Chris and I have talked about living together, but never in depth. Unless I bring it up, he never says anything about it. When Valentine’s Day came around, Chris asked if we could celebrate it a few days late because he was scheduled to have his son that night. I was heartbroken because even a Valentine dinner for the three of us was out.
I am beginning to think there is no future with Chris. He seems fine just dating and seeing me every other weekend as someone to hang out with, but not to commit to. Suggestions? — Dismissed in Denver
DEAR DISMISSED: When you started dating Chris, his son was 12. It seems to me that what he has done is put his parenting responsibilities before anything else, and I respect that.
If romance and marriage are what you’re looking for, I suggest you stop asking Chris about living together and ask instead about whether the two of you have a future. Chris has been treating you like a friend with benefits for four years. The pattern is set and it isn’t likely to change by itself.