Dear Amy: My parents have been fighting a lot. It scares me because I love them so much and I don’t know what I would do without either one of them.
I have tried to talk to both of them privately, but they act like everything is fine, when I know it isn’t. I know that times are tough for all of us and maybe we could all just use some time by ourselves, but I really don’t know what to do. Should I also act like everything is all right, or should I try to talk to them about it again, when I know they will say that it doesn’t concern me and that I shouldn’t worry about it?
— Scared Teen
Dear Scared: First this: Your folks have done a great job, raising a sensitive, concerned, and empathetic child.
Your folks are feeling the stress — and so are you. You may be noticing a dynamic between them that has actually been going on for a while (because you are all spending more time together), or they are feeling financial, workplace, or family worries that you aren’t aware of.
You have already spoken to each of your parents, but you deserve more reassurance, and so you should try to speak with both of them, together.
You cannot solve their problems for them, but you have the right to speak your own truth, and so you should try to tell them how their actions affect you.
Use “I statements”: “I’m worried because you seem to be arguing a lot.” “When you fight it makes me feel …” (anxious, upset, afraid).
It might help for you to write down your thoughts in advance, and if you don’t believe you can have this conversation with both of them together, you can give them both a copy of your written thoughts. I hope your concern inspires them to behave differently — for everyone’s sake.
If you find yourself overwhelmed by this — and other stresses in your life — please reach out for help. Crisis Text Line has a round-the-clock staff of empathetic and helpful counselors, all available via text. Store this number in your phone: 741-741 (I have it in mine), and text if you need to talk.
Dear Amy: I am a regular reader of your column. Thank you for being up to date on the coronavirus situation. I am being as careful as I can possibly be in terms of protecting myself, and since March 15 I have secluded myself in my apartment.
I am 91 years old and very active. Before this secluded period, most days I would be out and about somewhere in my new car every day.
The other day, a friend of mine delivered some groceries to my outside deck and I went to the sliding glass doors and went out onto the deck while she stood out on the lawn and we conversed.
I had on a mask but pulled it down with my rubber gloves (which I had just sanitized), to talk to her.
She phoned afterward to say that she was concerned that I had touched my mask with my soiled hands.
Amy, why do people do this? And how should I respond?
— Air Hugs in Nebraska
Dear Air Hugs: People do this because they are anxious and afraid. All of us are trying, in a variety of ways, to control something that is invisible and unpredictable.
This friend has been making efforts to take care of you. The response from you should be — “Thank you for everything you are doing, and thank you for your concern. I’m doing well. I’m feeling great, and grateful.”
Once you say these things, you can hang up the phone, take a deep breath, make yourself a cup of tea, and daydream about cruising in your new car. It will happen.
Dear Amy: Thank you for calling out the couple signing their letter “Too Close.” They were excessively selfish for insisting that their friends needed to immediately attend to their needs, regardless of the current health crisis, which places everyone at risk.