DEAR HARRIETTE: For the past couple of years, I have always been put in the middle of my parents' disagreements. Whenever they butt heads, they each come to me and vent about how horrible the other is. Every time this happens, it makes me very uncomfortable since it puts me in the middle of their fights, making me feel as if I have to choose sides. I have tried to talk to my siblings about this, but I am the only one my parents do this with, so I was unable to get any help from them. How should I go about getting this to stop? I still live at home because I go to college nearby. I feel like I need to move out in order to have peace of mind, but I can't leave yet. -- Out of the Middle, Washington, D.C.
DEAR OUT OF THE MIDDLE: Sometimes when couples are going through difficulties, they aren't consciously aware of how their behavior affects their loved ones, particularly their children. Confront them about what they are doing. You can do it with them together or one on one. Choose a moment when they are not inflamed. It is very hard to hear when you are upset, especially if the message being delivered is somewhat critical. So wait until a neutral time, and then tell them that you need to talk about something serious. Point out that when they disagree about things, they talk badly about each other to you. Explain how awkward this makes you feel. Make it clear that you do not want to choose sides, nor do you want to know all of their issues. Ask them to keep their arguments to themselves.