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by Abigail Van Buren

Troubled Teen Wants Escape From Unhappy Life at Home

DEAR ABBY: I am 13 and have been home-schooled for a few years, but I hate it.

My parents recently got a divorce after many years of trying to. Although I was used to the idea of their divorce, I cried when it happened. Mom asked me what was wrong and I told her. Her reply was, "Oh, grow up. You're 13, not 5!" It showed me she doesn't care about my feelings.

I don't know why, but sometimes I think I'm the reason behind my parents' split. Also, I have no idea how to tell Mom I want to go to high school next year. I feel like my life is falling apart. What do I do? -- TENNESSEE TEEN IN TURMOIL

DEAR TENNESSEE TEEN: Regardless of how old a person is, when parents divorce it can be shocking -- even if you saw it coming. It's normal to be sad about it, but don't make your burden harder to bear by feeling in any way guilty about the split.

Children are seldom, if ever, the cause -- or even a factor -- in a divorce or separation. The circumstances that led your parents to separate are far more complex than they may appear on the surface. Your parents have probably been deeply hurt by each other. Rarely is one party entirely to blame. Do not feel sorry for yourself or ashamed. Divorce happens in the best of families.

Your mother's reaction to your tears was regrettable. It may have been she felt defensive. Divorce can be an emotional roller coaster -- so be prepared for her to have mood swings and don't personalize it. (She may be having a bad day.)

As to your attending high school rather than being home-schooled --- a way to approach a discussion would be to tell your mother you would like to try it for "a while." She may be more receptive than you think, because she may need to get a job or return to school to prepare for one.