DEAR ABBY: I'm 15, and my parents have fought constantly for years. Dad is an alcoholic. I guess you could say I have kind of given up on him. I'm involved in many sports, but rarely does he show up to support me, unlike my mom who is there at every game.
Dad has now left us. He still calls Mom just about every day, and he stops by the house to "check up" on things about three times a week.
Mom forced me to send him a "Happy Birthday" text. She wants me to start talking to him again and to build a relationship with him, but I think he has missed out on too much of my life already. (He even missed my first prom!) I don't feel I need him in my life, or that he deserves me in his. What should I do? -- LET DOWN BY DAD IN KANSAS
DEAR LET DOWN: Because you are close to your mother, you need to have her explain to you why she feels it is important for you to include your father in your life. If he is trying to quit drinking, she may have good reasons for wanting you to.
While I understand and sympathize with the fact that your father has disappointed you and that you are angry about it, carrying that kind of anger can be more destructive to you than it is to him. That's why it could be helpful to you to check out a support group called Alateen. It was started especially to help young people whose lives have been affected by the compulsive drinking of a family member or a friend. It offers a booklet titled "Al-Anon Faces Alcoholism 2011," which can be read on the Al-Anon website at � HYPERLINK "http://www.Al-AnonFamilyGroups.org" ��www.Al-AnonFamilyGroups.org�. If you would like to order a postage-paid free copy, direct your request to � HYPERLINK "mailto:wso@Al-AnonFamilyGroups.org" ��wso@Al-AnonFamilyGroups.org�, or mail a request to Al-Anon Family Groups, 1600 Corporate Landing Parkway, Virginia Beach, VA 23454-5617.
DEAR ABBY: I have been dating "Harper" for two months. He now involves me in his family dinners and events on a weekly basis. I feel weird going to family functions that include his mom, dad, brother, sister, and their spouses and kids. Sometimes even extended family members and friends attend.
Harper loves including me, but it's overwhelming because it feels too soon to spend so much time with them. My anxiety has me in a panic during nearly every visit. I'm having a hard time saying no because it's all so normal for Harper. I dread going to his family's for dinner for fear that it will turn into "card night."
Harper's ex-girlfriend was fine with being included in everything. I feel like I'm stepping into her shoes, and I don't like how it feels. Harper never forces me to go, but I have to find a way to tell him it's not necessary for me to accompany him every week. I don't want to offend him or his family. Help! -- TOO MUCH, TOO SOON
DEAR TOO MUCH, TOO SOON: You need to recognize that Harper is extremely close to his family and that his idea of a good time is seeing and interacting with them. If you continue to date him, you will have to accept that his family -- including extended family, friends and card nights -- will be a large part of the package.
Many women might welcome being wrapped in the embrace of a large, warm family, but because you feel otherwise, it's time to level with him and tell him that you're finding this overwhelming.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)