DEAR ABBY: I am a 13-year-old girl with a serious problem and no one to turn to. A year ago, my world fell apart.
I live in a small town and my dad is a policeman. Last year, a 19-year-old girl came to work in his department and started riding with him in his patrol car. Everyone started talking about how Dad was having an affair with this teen-age girl who's just a few years older than me. After a few months, my dad moved out and started living with her. Mom wouldn't talk about it, and my grandparents were very upset. A few months later, he and my mom were divorced.
Mom began dating a guy a lot older than her. Neither of them seems to notice me anymore. I'm so confused.
I had no one to talk to, and I started seeing a guy who's 18. He understands how upset I am, but now people are telling me that he's just using me. I feel guilty about my relationship with him. I have terrible nightmares and can't keep from crying during the day. Why did my parents suddenly quit believing in everything they have taught me all my life? I have always been a good student, but this is affecting my grades.
I can't make myself like my mom's boyfriend or my dad's girlfriend. Should I try to force myself to? I can't discuss this with my parents or grandparents. I really need someone who can give me a mature answer. How can I accept my parents' behavior and get on with my life? -- FORGOTTEN DAUGHTER
DEAR DAUGHTER: You need more help than I can give you in my column. You desperately need support from -- and dialogue with -- an adult other than an 18-year-old man who may be sympathetic, but could be in trouble with the law if this relationship with you continues. Your father is behaving as if he's in his second adolescence, and your mother is trying so hard to replace him that it has affected her relationship with you.
This is a problem that's more than any 13-year-old girl is capable of handling on her own. I urge you to confide in a school counselor, your clergyperson or some other trusted adult. Do it immediately -- and please write again to let me know how you're doing. I care.