"My Teenage Daughter Is Ruining Our Marriage"

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Her Turn, Continued

"And it's not all her fault. John is a 'because-I-said-so' parent, whereas I try to explain my position and listen to the kids' side. John thinks I'm a pushover, that I'm too nice with them. Well, I've been told I'm too nice my entire life. I don't know any other way to be. I was an only child; my mother was a nurse and my father, who was an alcoholic, owned a dry-cleaning business. I spent most of my childhood trying to make my mother happy, without much success. She finally divorced my dad when I was in college.

"Now I feel like I'm headed for another divorce. Things really fell apart last Friday. I was still at the office -- I'm a bookkeeper at a software firm -- when John called, furious. Ali had been on the phone for three hours, ignoring the call-waiting signal so the auto mechanic he needed to speak to couldn't get through. Excuse me? He interrupts me at work to complain about the commonest teen behavior imaginable?

"When I got home John started yelling at me, which set me off. It was surreal -- the two of us in this face-off, getting madder by the minute. And we never used to even raise our voices to each other.

"Then, as Ali was leaving to meet a friend, I noticed she was wearing her sister's necklace. Cara was at soccer practice and couldn't have given Ali permission to wear it, so I asked her to take it off. She refused and shoved me out of the way, knocking my head against the banister. John grabbed Ali's arm and she erupted like a volcano, racing to the phone and calling the police. Two police cars roared up to the house and an officer took her statement. Fortunately, she had calmed down somewhat and the police concluded that it was a false alarm. But after they left, John looked me in the eye, said, 'When she makes it to Broadway, give me a call,' and stomped out. I spent two hours in tears before he came back. He apologized, but I just feel so hopeless, like I'm losing my daughter and my marriage."

Continued on page 3:  His Turn


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