Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Teen Agers' Risky Habits Frighten Lifelong Friend

DEAR ABBY: I am in my late 20s, the eldest of five children. (The youngest is 10.) My parents have been married 35 years.

A few months ago, my younger brother and mother discovered evidence that my father was having an affair. Dad denied everything. My mother is bitter and refuses to get counseling. She makes remarks about my father such as, "I couldn't care less about him, but divorce is out of the question because I need the money." She's also said, "I just wish he would die."

I understand that Mother is hurt and frustrated, but Dad is still my father and Mom's attitude hurts me as well.

Since this happened, I broke my engagement to a wonderful man I was to marry this month. Now I'm wondering if I called it off because of my parents' problems. I feel as though I am the parent to them, Abby.

My family reads your column, so I'm asking you to please advise us. -- MY PARENTS' PARENT IN WISCONSIN

DEAR PARENTS' PARENT: I cannot advise your parents, because they didn't ask me for advice. However, your life is just beginning, and you must live it for yourself. You need counseling to help you emotionally separate from your parents and their marital problems, which only they can resolve.

Now, pick up the phone and call your former fiance. It may not be too late to get your relationship back on track.