Dear Abby: I’m turning 17 and live with my dad and his girlfriend. They have broken up four times, causing my dad and me to retreat to the basement where we live the peaceful, happy life we did before he met her.
When they first started dating, she was very nice, and I liked her. However, because my mom is gone, she decided to assume the role of “mother” after they moved in together. I don’t think she has the right to make decisions about me just because I no longer have a mother.
Dad has told me repeatedly that he doesn’t want to continue a relationship with her, but she always manipulates him into getting back together. She treats him terribly, and it breaks my heart. I know he deserves better. His personality changes when he’s with her. He gets mean and blames their problems on me because that’s what she does.
I know I’m not responsible for this situation, but she makes me feel that way. I need stability, and I just want my dad back. What should I do?
— Teen in Turmoil
Dear Teen: What’s going on is not your fault. You should not assume responsibility for their problems because you can’t fix them.
Talk with your father about how you are being made to feel. That he and this woman have broken up four times should have given him a clue that his relationship with her isn’t a healthy one — for him or for you. Your father is the adult in the family, and it is up to him to deal with this — not you. Hiding in the basement isn’t the answer.