DEAR ABBY: I read your column every day, and I disagree with the advice you gave the 13-year-old girl who signed herself "Angry Daughter/Sister in Kansas." You recommended she confront her mother for tolerating her husband's abusive ranting.
From years of professional experience, I predict that if the mother does leave her probably alcoholic husband, unless SHE gets treatment for herself and her co-dependence issues, she'll only pick another abusive addict she'll need to control. I have seen too many sequential relationships where the co-dependent spouse picked one addicted person after another -- each more abusive than the last.
That child needs her own support group. At 13, she can contact Alateen, where she will learn she is not responsible for "fixing" her parents. -- THERAPIST IN BELLEFONTE, PA.
DEAR THERAPIST: You have a point. Mea culpa. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: Whoa! You advised a 13-year-old to basically "solve" the crisis in her alcoholic family system. Regardless of when or if the alcoholic gets treatment, the entire family needs help to avoid lifelong behaviors that are not healthy. School counselors, community agencies and national hotlines can steer that young girl to family recovery programs. She can certainly let her mother know that she is hurting, and that she is taking action to find help for herself. Her mother may not be ready for that step, but will probably be tacitly supportive.
As a retired school counselor and alcohol/drug prevention specialist, I ran groups for children of alcoholics. Young people are resilient. They can make healthy life decisions with little guidance. If she reaches out for help, it may cause positive changes at home. Even if it doesn't happen immediately, that girl will have established a lifeline. -- JUDY F., TROY, OHIO
DEAR JUDY F.: Let's hold a good thought. Helping herself should be the first step.
DEAR ABBY: I was in a similar situation with three children. A friend suggested I go to Al-Anon. There I learned that alcoholism is a family disease, and that all members are affected by living with an alcoholic.
When I got help, my children also got better, and my husband eventually went for help. He has been sober for 20 years, and we have a great relationship. We just celebrated 40 years of marriage and we still attend the 12-step programs. They saved our marriage. -- GRATEFUL AL-ANON MEMBER IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR GRATEFUL: Congratulations on your anniversary. Readers, the phone number for Alateen and Al-Anon should be listed in your local telephone directory. If it's not, the toll-free number in the United States and Canada is (888) 4AL-ANON (425-2666).