I'm 21, living with my family, and in a two-year relationship with a guy I love for now and the future.
However, I have family problems - my parents fighting and talking about divorce; my sister, 19, who doesn't listen to anyone. They make me fed up and wanting to give up on my life and dreams.
Whenever something happens at home, I take it out on my boyfriend. I get jealous, don't believe anything he says, we get in frequent arguments.
I want to move out but feel guilty leaving it all behind and let the rest of them suffer.
My mom is having an affair, and she talks to me about it because I'm the only one that shows her understanding.
My dad is demanding; when he's angry he loses control of his actions.
I want to help my mom and support her but this is ruining me.
- Caught in Between!
Tell your Mom you love her but it's not your place to hear about her affair, and it's harming your own outlook. Urge her to go to counselling and make a decision whether she's staying and working on her marriage or not.
Do NOT feel guilty about backing away from this situation - Mom is troubled, but she's wrong to dump all this on your young shoulders.
You'd also benefit greatly from talking to a professional counsellor, too. Seek affordable help through a local community agency.
Also, your mother's example has left you with the mistaken belief that you, too, can toss unhappy feelings onto the next person's lap, in this case your boyfriend.
Time to learn right now that it's unfair, and a sure way to eventually frustrate him enough to want to stop listening and understanding… which is the same way you feel about your Mom's venting to you.
To get permanently out of the middle, start planning to be more independent, and work toward moving out.
I'm 27, and traditional. I've always believed in being a stay-at-home person, while my husband is working and providing for the family.
Most of my friends seem to think that this is a crazy idea, and that I should strive to be career-driven and independent.
Should I give in to pressure, and start looking for a job, or stick to my old-fashioned beliefs and stay at home?
The simple answer to give you is that it depends on the choice you and your husband make together, i.e., if you have one.
Since it's unclear whether this is a fact or you're dealing with theory, let me also give you the more complex answer: You never really know what life will bring, so it's wise to have a back-up plan, a set of skills and the ability to change your lifestyle when necessary.
So, if you end up marrying someone who's less traditional; or, if you face financial difficulties on one salary and want to afford more; or, if you're divorced, widowed or never marry, you'll likely need to be able to get a job and make the money needed to contribute to your own and possibly others' support.
This is about giving in to reality, not pressure.
I love my sister and fear for her well-being. She got married, and months later she ran off with the groom's friend to Europe for eight months. She then moved across the country and dumped the groom's friend. She now parties every night, and I've heard that she's occasionally using hard drugs.
When she came to visit last month she looked like she lost ten pounds, and her normal weight is only 110 lbs.
She said she came home to take a break from the party life, but when she flew back things are the same.
I'm worried about her heath and safety. Whenever I broach these topics she shuts down or overreacts, refusing to listen.
What can I do to help her?
- Worried Sister
Stay in touch, tell her of your concerns about her health and safety, but hold back on heavy judgment. You want to keep communication flowing, so that she knows the door is open for her to call or come back to visit when things get too hectic.
Also, get informed about substance abuse and STD's (sexually transmitted diseases), so that when the time comes that you feel she'll accept help, you can direct her where to get it.
Tip of the day:
When parents dump their marital problems on grown children, make them responsible for their own lives.