My mom’s boyfriend wants to spend time with my 16-year-old sister and take her places all the time. He wants to cuddle with both of us whenever we sit on the couch and gets really upset when we don’t want to. He’s my biological father, but I have known him only for a year because he left my mom when she was pregnant with me.
Now he wants to play “dad” when I already have had a dad all my life. (Mom was married for 11 years to another man.) I’m 14.
He yells and swears all the time and takes things away from us if we don’t do what he wants. He isn’t physically abusive yet, but the cuddling freaks me out and I don’t think it’s right. I told my school counselor. She said to get over it, that it wasn’t a big deal.
Abby, what can I do? I think he is grooming my sister for sex since he told us he likes young girls and was used to them before Mom. Mom has problems with depression and reality and won’t listen to us. Help us, please. Where can I go? — HELPLESS IN THE MIDWEST
DEAR HELPLESS: Because your father’s overtures make you uncomfortable, and he “punishes” you if you don’t accept them — it IS a “big deal.” Before this goes any further, you should call Childhelp and describe what’s happening. The toll-free number is 800-422-4453. The person who answers the phone can refer you to help in your state. Please don’t wait. Your safety and that of your sister could depend on it.
DEAR ABBY: I am romantically attracted to a girl, “Jade.” We have known each other ever since we were in diapers. She’s bubbly, vivacious and beautiful. We flirted with puppy love about 10 years ago, but it never went beyond writing love letters and ended quickly. It was so disappointingly brief that I have never regarded it as a true relationship. I consider her my first love.
Jade goes through boyfriends like a chain-smoker goes through cigarettes. It seems as if every time I ask her, “So, how is your current boyfriend?” that she has a new one. Her mother is the same way, truth be told, and never found a good father figure for Jade. The men her mother dated were abusive. Consequently, Jade isn’t the best judge of men, either.
My parents have suggested that she may view me as a friend because I’m the only decent guy in her life, and she’s afraid we wouldn’t be friends if our romantic relationship ended. I want to tell her that I’d like to date her the next time her current relationship ends. At the same time, I want her to know I’d rather have her as a friend than nothing at all. Thanks to the wonder of social media, I will know when her next relationship ends. Should I wait till then? If not, how long? — FIRST LOVE IN THE SOUTH
DEAR FIRST LOVE: You seem to have a lot of insight about Jade. Because she was raised by a mother who was involved in one abusive relationship after another, she may feel that unless there is pain and drama, that what she’s experiencing is boring and not really “love.” Until she realizes that the criteria she’s using in choosing men are flawed, and is willing to get help to straighten out her thinking, her pattern will continue to repeat itself.
As you hover over your keyboard waiting for news of her next romantic failure, I suggest that rather than “pounce,” you keep her as a friend until she’s ready for a mature relationship. If you don’t, you will only suffer more disappointment.
Dear Abby is written by Jeanne Phillips. The column was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.