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home : columns : dear harriette October 22, 2020

7/9/2020 4:20:00 PM
College student must choose parent to live with

DEAR HARRIETTE: My parents are getting divorced. They announced it to me, their only child, after we were already hunkered down at their house during quarantine. Now I'm faced with a decision I don't need right now. My dad is moving out of our family home and into his own house. I love both my parents so much, and I don't want to pick sides in this fight. But I am now faced with having to make a decision as to where I will live. I am still in college, but I would have the summer off anyway. Because of the coronavirus, I don't have any idea when I will physically go back to school, so I will be living with my parents indefinitely. How do I decide who I am going to live with? -- Split Decision

DEAR SPLIT DECISION: Divorce is always hard on a family. Divorce in the midst of this pandemic exacerbates an already difficult situation. It is good that you do not want to take sides. Make that clear to your parents. Tell them how much you love them both and do not want to get caught up in their pain.

Realize, too, that you will need to figure out how to balance your time between them. At your age, you are in a position to choose where you want to live. Consider the classic relationship -- splitting your time between the two of them. You may want to help your dad move out and into his new home, since that is a big job. That means in the early days, you may end up living with him as you help him set up his home. Ideally, you should set up a rotating schedule so that you manage expectations. Good luck.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My twin sister is always showing me up. When we were children, she was always the more vocal sister. She would often use my clothes without asking and steal my ideas. Though we are very close and I know that she meant no harm when we were kids, this pattern has continued in more subtle ways now that we are older. For example, she will usually choose where we go for our birthday celebration, which we enjoy doing together. She usually forgets the importance of my input in the decision. I've also seen trends like this seep into much more important decisions and family conflicts. We are home from college during quarantine, and now that we are older and spending so much time together, I feel like it's the perfect time to talk to her about how her actions sometimes hurt me. Is this really the right time, considering we're all locked up together? And how should I approach this? -- Twin Time

DEAR TWIN TIME: Now is the time for you to gather up your courage to stand up to your sister. You have allowed her to be the leader since you were children. She may not realize that you want to be more of an equal participant in your relationship. You need to tell her. Yes, use this time at home to have a serious conversation with her about your relationship -- including how much you love each other and how important it is for you to have a voice. Be brave.

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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