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by Abigail Van Buren

Teen's Heart Aches for Young Cousin in Midst of Melodrama

DEAR ABBY: I am 18 and in my sophomore year of college. A month ago, my family went through some major hardships. It came out that "Uncle Mark" has been cheating on my aunt for years and is moving his mistress to our area. They have two children, a son in elementary school and a daughter, "Dana," 13.

I feel bad for my aunt, but I'm absolutely devastated for Dana. My Uncle Mark has skipped all of her school events in the wake of this mess, and I can't begin to imagine how disappointed Dana must feel. Uncle Mark is a sociopath. He feels no empathy, manipulates others and has a sadistic streak. Dana was not close to her dad, but since this mess began she's even less so.

Abby, I don't want my cousin to feel like she's alone. Since I'm an older teenager, she looks up to me. How can I be supportive, and not intrude in this delicate situation? -- SUPPORTIVE COUSIN IN MAINE

DEAR SUPPORTIVE: You are kind to want to help. Your cousin is probably experiencing a range of emotions because of the turmoil that's going on around her family. The kindest thing to do would be to spend time with her when your schedule permits and allow her to vent when she needs to, because she will.

Read more in: Teens | Family & Parenting