Ask Amy: Teenager takes on the burden of his childhood

Dear Amy: I am a 16-year-old boy. I have lived with my grandparents for the last six years.

I used to live with my parents, but gradually spent more time at my grandparents’ house.

This eventually evolved into spending entire weeks at my grandparents’, and later bringing my belongings there. I have two older siblings.

I now believe that I basically ran away from home, and I don’t feel content with this decision I made when I was only 10 years old.

It’s hard to identify if my relationship with my mother was abusive, as she never broke any laws; still, I never felt comfortable living with her, and my dad would exhaust himself at work every day and wouldn’t get home until very late at night.

My mom and dad are now divorced and live in separate homes. My mom has a new boyfriend. She seems happier and more stable than when she had to deal with three children. Now I feel even more regretful for running away.

I will not move back in with my mother or father because my grandparents have made me feel like I belong, certainly more than my mother ever did.

I forgive my mom, but I don’t know how to have a conversation with her about our past or our future, because when I try to talk about our past, she denies everything and dismisses the conversation.

So I am asking you, Amy, how I should discuss the past with my mother and try to rebuild our strained relationship for the future?

— The Runaway

Dear Runaway: I’d like to applaud your bravery at finding a safe way to leave your household so that you could live in a more stable and healthier environment. To me, this does not seem like running away — at all! — but more like the behavior of a survivor who, at only 10 years old, figured out how to secure a better home life.

The fact that your parents let you move to your grandparents’ house should tell you that they also believed that you were doing the right thing.

You are such a responsible teenager, and yet like many survivors you are trying to rebuild something that you did not break. You did nothing wrong. Your mother will continue to deny her role in your story (she’s protecting herself).

You are the strong one, here — but understand that every person longs for loving acceptance; many kids are denied that by abusive or neglectful parents. If you want to spend time with your mom, only you can decide if contact is a good idea for you right now.

You don’t mention trying to discuss this with your grandparents. I think you should. They know you, they know your folks, and I think they would probably appreciate the opportunity to talk to you and comfort you. Your school counselor should also be able to hook you up with someone to talk to about this very important aspect of your life.

I highly recommend author and illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka’s graphic novel, “Hey Kiddo: How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt with Family Addiction” (2018, Graphix).

This memoir is about the author’s own challenging childhood, when he lived with his grandparents and dealt with some issues that might be similar to yours. Like you, the author started piecing things together when he was a teen. He found creative ways to express his pain and confusion.

Dear Amy: I have been contacted a couple of times recently by friends who want to “take” me to lunch.

I never have initiated these invites.

I am on a low fixed income, so I don’t dine out very much.

Apparently to them, “taking” me to lunch means that I am buying my own lunch.

Two times now, with two separate friends, they have asked for separate checks and I have been left scrambling to pay.

Your thoughts?

— Scrambling

Dear Scrambling: I’m with you! When someone asks to “take” you to lunch, they are inviting you to lunch — and they should be picking up the check.

Dear Amy: My heart went out to the 32-year-old who was in “Early Retirement” due to the fact that they had moved into a retirement community with parents.

If this person is looking for social interactions, they might try Meetup. I had to rebuild my social circle after divorce, and it’s been a reliable resource for making friends.

— Restored

Dear Restored: is a great way to connect with others and enjoy some new experiences and adventures.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

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