Despite unhappy past, girls resist parents' future divorce

DEAR ABBY: I am a 15-year-old boy who has known for as long as I can remember that my parents would eventually divorce. I can't remember a day in my life without their constant fighting. Dad has been out of the house for a year now, and our home situation is better.

My sisters, on the other hand, are torn apart. They cry at the mention of the word divorce, which has yet to happen. My older sister is having problems at school and self-esteem issues. My younger sister cries for things to be the way they were — even though everyone was unhappy.

My mother and I recognize that we are happier and are ready to make changes, like moving into a new house and proceeding with the divorce. But because of my sisters, she has asked me if my father should move back in. I desperately want progress, but feel it won't ever come. How can we all let go?

— TEEN IN STATEN ISLAND

DEAR TEEN: A mother should not be asking her 15-year-old son whether she should be giving her marriage another try. If she's ambivalent, she should make that decision with the help of a therapist — which might also be extremely helpful for you and your sisters.

All of you are experiencing the stress of the impending divorce, and you have my sympathy. But when a marriage is as dysfunctional as your parents' has been, sometimes the sanest answer for all concerned is that it come to an end.

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I agreed to help her sister and our niece by allowing them to stay with us in our home due to financial hardship on their part. They pay only their share of the utilities; no rent is included.

We have recently learned that they're not really having a financial problem. My sister-in-law lied to us about their situation. In fact, she makes more money than I do, and she's putting half her earnings into her retirement investment account. What is the right way to approach this problem?

— DECEIVED IN SACRAMENTO

DEAR DECEIVED: Your sister-in-law's behavior is reprehensible. As I see it, you have a couple of choices. You can take the indirect approach by clipping this letter, attaching it to a large piece of paper and printing on it, "You have three days to make other living arrangements," and leaving it on your sister-in-law's pillow. Or the direct one, which would be to tell her that the jig is up, she's no longer welcome under your roof, and you want her and her daughter to pack their bags immediately.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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