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Grown-Up Child Still Wonders What Halted Parents' Divorce

DEAR ABBY: During my childhood, my parents fought loudly and often. When I was 12, they spoke to my sister and me about getting a divorce. I was heartbroken and fought back.

Like any kid in that situation, I was upset and scared. I told them they were being selfish and irresponsible for breaking up our family when they were the ones who chose to have children in the first place. They ended up staying together and never mentioned the D-word again.

It's 15 years later; they have now been married for 40 years. When I'm around, I still hear them squabble, but nothing like when I was young. They obviously care about one another.

As an adult, I am plagued by guilt. Had I been older and wiser when they first contemplated divorce, I would have agreed that they were probably not a good match, and told them to do whatever they needed to be happy.

Did I do the wrong thing when I was young? Should I say something now or leave well enough alone? I feel I may have kept my parents in a loveless relationship, and while I'm happy they're still together, I can't help but wonder if I should have kept my mouth shut. I'd appreciate your opinion. -- REMORSEFUL IN THE SOUTH

DEAR REMORSEFUL: What you said when you were 12 may have affected your parents' decision about divorcing, but it was not the deciding factor. It may have slowed them down and made them think that as long as their children were minors, they should make a greater effort to keep the family intact. By the time you became an adult nine years ago they appear to have made peace and patched up their major differences. As you stated, "They obviously care about one another."

Because you carry feelings of guilt over this, if you feel comfortable enough to do so, talk to your parents about it. If not, then discuss it with a counselor because blaming yourself for reacting as any 12-year-old would is wrong.

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