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Parents’ silence not golden

Posted: June 7, 2012 2:22 p.m.
Updated: June 8, 2012 5:00 a.m.

Dear Annie: I am an 18-year-old guy, and my parents are splitting up. I don’t know the full story, but things are getting somewhat awkward around the house. We try to live normally, but the silence hurts. I’m trying to deal with it and put up a good front until graduation, but it’s hard.

When I am with both of my parents in the same room, it’s too quiet. One of us will try to initiate a conversation, but it cuts off after a few minutes. My father is military and will be deploying shortly after I graduate. Everyone right now seems to be on edge. I have no way to talk about this with anyone.

I’ve heard it’s always worse before it gets better, but it seems that there is no end to the silence. How do I associate with both of my parents and not have any “divorce talk”? — Tom

Dear Tom: Your parents may believe they are making it easier for you by not discussing the situation. Or they may fear that talking about it will create a cascade of bitter words, arguing and crying, and they are hoping to spare you. But you do need to talk to someone. It would help enormously. Do you have a favorite teacher, coach, neighbor or friend’s parent? What about a grandparent, aunt or uncle? The military also offers counseling for family members. Try Military One Source (militaryonesource.mil) and ask for help.

Dear Annie: I’ve been dating “Ben” for five years, and I consider it a serious relationship. We see each other often and are in touch by phone daily.

Ben likes to ride his motorcycle and frequently stays out quite late on Saturday nights. I often don’t figure this out until 9:00 p.m. or later, when he hasn’t returned any calls or texts. He claims he doesn’t hear the phone while riding, which I understand, but why can’t he return my call when he takes a break? Or tell me before he goes that he won’t be back earlier?

It’s not that we make specific plans for Saturday night, but there’s usually a casual “call me and we’ll do something later” plan. It upsets me that he doesn’t include me on these Saturday night jaunts, doesn’t communicate to me what he’s doing and doesn’t seem to care that I sit home alone on a Saturday night because it’s too late to make other arrangements.
I’ve talked to him about it, but it makes no difference. I admit that it wouldn’t bother me as much if he did this on Monday nights. Am I overreacting? — An Avid Reader

Dear Avid: Unless there are definite plans, you should assume Ben is not coming. There’s no point sitting alone at home waiting for someone else to call. Arrange to do something with your friends on Saturday nights. It will keep you occupied, and Ben will probably find you much more interesting if you aren’t waiting around for him.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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