DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend, "Jeff," is a single parent. His daughter, "Nicole," is 14. Jeff is very soft-spoken and even-tempered. He hates conflict and shies away from it if it arises. We have been in a loving and caring relationship for nine years. We don't yell at each other or call each other names.
Over the last six months, Nicole's behavior toward her father has changed radically. She has become verbally abusive toward him. When she speaks to him she calls him names and uses ungodly language. I cringe when she starts screaming and cursing at him.
I moved out of the house because I can't be part of a household like that -- it made me sick. I have stated on more than one occasion that this kind of behavior is unacceptable and not normal. Jeff says he has read books that say that it is. It has driven a wedge between us. I'm concerned that if Nicole treats her father this way, how is she treating her peers, teachers or strangers? Have you any advice to offer? -- HEARTSICK IN FLORIDA
DEAR HEARTSICK: Nicole's behavior is neither normal nor acceptable. Your boyfriend should have asserted his authority the first time it happened. The longer he tolerates his daughter's outbursts, the more they will escalate.
I don't know what her problem is -- whether she has fallen in with the wrong crowd, is experimenting with drugs or having emotional difficulties. But the time to get to the root of it and put a stop to it is NOW. And if your boyfriend refuses to face that fact and act like a parent, he is shirking his responsibility to his daughter.