Dear Abby: I am 13 and have been homeschooled for a few years, but I hate it.

My parents recently got a divorce after many years of trying to. Although I was used to the idea of their divorce, I cried when it happened. Mom asked me what was wrong and I told her. Her reply was, "Oh, grow up. You're 13, not 5!" It showed me she doesn't care about my feelings.

I don't know why, but sometimes I think I'm the reason behind my parents' split. Also, I have no idea how to tell Mom I want to go to high school next year. I feel like my life is falling apart. What do I do?

- Tennessee Teen in Turmoil

Dear Tennessee Teen: Regardless of how old a person is, when parents divorce it can be shocking, even if you saw it coming. It's normal to be sad about it, but don't make your burden harder to bear by feeling in any way guilty about the split.

Children are seldom, if ever, the cause, or even a factor, in a divorce or separation. The circumstances that led your parents to separate are far more complex than they may appear on the surface. Your parents have probably been deeply hurt by each other. Rarely is one party entirely to blame. Do not feel sorry for yourself or ashamed. Divorce happens in the best of families.

Your mother's reaction to your tears was regrettable. It may have been she felt defensive. Divorce can be an emotional roller coaster, so be prepared for her to have mood swings and don't personalize it. (She may be having a bad day.)

As to your attending high school rather than being home-schooled, a way to approach a discussion would be to tell your mother you would like to try it "for a while." She may be more receptive than you think, because she may need to get a job or return to school to prepare for one.

Words hard to find

Dear Abby: I am a 22-year-old college student. My boyfriend, "Jay," and I have been together four years and plan to become engaged after school. The problem is, I have never told him my mom is a lesbian. She dresses like a man and wears her hair very short. I have always accepted her for who she is, or at least I thought so.

I have told Jay lies about my mom and dad being together when, in fact, they are not. My dad is deceased, and Mom has a girlfriend. I will graduate soon, and Jay will be there. So will Mom and her girlfriend.

I feel like I am losing my mind the closer that graduation comes. Jay is a wonderful person, but sometimes he can be judgmental. I have wanted to tell him the truth many times, but I'm afraid of what he will think of me or have second thoughts about our relationship. I can't seem to find the words to tell him even when I try. Please help.

- Keeping a Secret in Huntsville, Texas

Dear Keeping a Secret: Here are the words: "Jay, there is something I need to tell you - something I haven't been completely honest about." Then tell him everything and do it before graduation, so he will have time to forgive you for not trusting him and being truthful about your background.

He will probably be more upset about the deception than any impression your mother could make. If Jay loves you, the two of you will get past this. But if he's not up to it, then your relationship wasn't meant to be, and you'll have to accept it.

n o n

Good advice for everyone, teens to seniors, is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 to: Dear Abby - Anger Booklet, Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

Dear Abby is written by Jeanne Phillips for Universal Press Syndicate. Write to Dear Abby at or Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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