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DEAR HARRIETTE: My parents are feuding and have been for quite some time. I usually duck out of the room when they start in on each other, but things have escalated of late. I am living at home this year because I haven’t found a job yet after graduating from college during the pandemic. I feel horrible that I am not yet independent and worse that I am stuck in the middle of a firestorm between my parents. I often just hide out in my room. But the constant arguing is driving me nuts and making it hard for me to get motivated to do anything positive for myself. How can I get out of this rut and also stay out of their business? They regularly try to get me to take sides. I don’t want to be part of their drama at all. — Get Out
DEAR GET OUT: You need to make a plan for your life with a timeline. Focus all of your energies on setting yourself up for success. Let your planning support your ability to live through the negative energy you are witnessing between your parents. Figure out what you want to do now and long-term. What kind of job can you get right this minute that will generate cash to put toward your independent life? What jobs are available in your field of interest? What are apartment rates like in your area? Do you know anyone who might be a good roommate? Work hard to answer these questions so that you can be prepared to make a move. Check in with yourself each month to evaluate your progress. When you reach the deadline you have set, do something.
Meanwhile, be kind to both of your parents. Do not offer your opinion about either of their positions or behaviors. You can let them know that their constant arguing is making you feel uncomfortable. Otherwise, stay out of it.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My friends and I all have children around the same age. So many of their experiences are similar. I have noticed that whenever one of the kids is not doing well, one parent is quick to tell us what his “perfect” son did that ours could emulate. It is nauseating. Before this guy joined the conversation (we share a group text), we all felt pretty comfortable sharing our concerns and situations. Nobody was judging or bragging about their kids. We were genuinely helping each other through tough difficult times. This guy and his puffed-up ego are wrecking our friend group. How can we get our core group back? — Kick Him Out
DEAR KICK HIM OUT: This may sound cold, but you can decide as a group to create a new text group and not include him. It really is that simple. If the rest of your group feels the same — that this man is being disruptive and has negatively impacted the intimacy of the group — take him out of it. You don’t have to say anything to him at all. Just deactivate that group and create a new one.
Understand that someone in the group may say something to him. That’s fine, too. Perhaps he should know that his egotistical way of engaging the group rubbed folks the wrong way.