DEAR ABBY: I am a 14-year-old girl living with my grandmother. My mom died when I was 7 and my father is now remarried. He and my stepmom have two children together.
My problem is my stepmother and I don't get along. I try to be friendly, but she hardly speaks to me or my grandmother. I understand that some people are quiet by nature and I am one of them, but my grandmother and I agree that her behavior is rude -- especially because we have done nothing to provoke it.
I sometimes get the feeling my stepmother doesn't want me to see my father. Every time he comes to visit at my grandmother's she calls, and then he has to leave.
My grandmother and I love their two children and they have come to recognize us. However, we don't get to see them very often. I believe my stepmother may be the reason for this as well.
What can we do to improve the situation? My grandmother has spoken to Dad, but things haven't gotten any better. I'm afraid to say anything because I know things could be worse. What's your advice? -- SILENT TEEN IN NORTH CAROLINA
DEAR SILENT TEEN: If your grandmother has already spoken to your dad, there is nothing you can do to improve the situation. The ball is in your father's court.
The problem isn't you or anything you have or haven't done. Your father married a woman who appears to be possessive, insecure and unable to empathize with anyone she can't control. You are a reminder that your father had a wife and a life before she came into it, and she views that as a threat. Your father could straighten her out -- but it appears she holds the power in their relationship.
It's time you spoke to him about your feelings directly. Hearing it from you may have more impact than what your grandmother is able to convey. If that doesn't work, you have my sympathy.
DEAR ABBY: My daughter, "Cassie," who is 23, moved out to live with her fiance. My house is now truly empty. I have two sons who have been on their own for a while. Cassie was the last to fly the coop.
I am so sad. I can't bear to even go into her room. It is so quiet. We didn't exactly have the closest relationship. I tried, but she wanted her independence. It hurt, but isn't that what a parent has to do with her kids?
Now that Cassie's gone, she won't answer calls or messages -- nothing. I saw her at her place of work the other day and she barely acknowledged me. She claims she is "happy now" and really doesn't miss me. She says hurtful things and makes fun of me because I am so sappy and emotional.
How do parents handle these situations? I don't work because I'm not able to. I know I should go out and do volunteer work. I do go to the gym, but I'm much younger than the crowd there. I don't have many close friends. What do empty-nester moms do? I know Cassie is insensitive, but talking it out with her won't help. She is who she is. -- HURTING IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR HURTING: OK, you say you don't have many close friends and can't work -- but you are well enough that you can go to a gym and volunteer. Now it's time for you to "fly the coop."
The way your daughter is treating you is beyond insensitive -- it's cruel. Instead of being afraid to go into her room you should paint it, redecorate it and rent it. Get out, volunteer, take dancing lessons, join whatever social groups there are in a 50-mile radius. The less time you spend at home the less time you will have to grieve.
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