DEAR ABBY: We are a middle-class family with a 20-year-old son and a 16-year-old daughter. Our problem is the girl -- "Karen." She's been going with the same boy, "Mark," for a year and a half. He's 17, and they are so wrapped up in each other, it's terrible.
Karen was always a happy, outgoing girl, but now she's secretive and quiet. She used to confide in me. She doesn't go places with her girlfriends like she used to; they don't even call her anymore. Her grades have plunged this year, so she has to go to summer school to make up some credits.
I have tried to reason with her. We have restricted her to seeing Mark only once a week because they were getting too thick. (She says she "loves" him.) We have talked until we are blue in the face about doing something besides waiting for Mark to call, but she can't -- or won't -- see the light. What can we do? -- KAREN'S PARENTS
DEAR PARENTS: Your daughter has a bad case of lovesickness. She needs someone she can talk to honestly about her feelings. Unfortunately, there is now little communication between you and Karen. So, family counseling might bring you closer together.
Karen needs to see you as loving parents, which is what you are, instead of "the enemy" -- using your parental power to keep her from seeing the boy she loves. (Don't ridicule her; although she is only 16, her love is genuine.)
Ask your family doctor to recommend a family therapist. If money is tight, your YWCA may be the answer. And hats off to you for seeking help.