DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I want to move out badly. Since my stepmother and her sons moved in, my sister and I have hated living at home and my sister moved. My stepmom isn't the brightest bulb in the tanning bed, and Dad grows increasingly frustrated. Her "boys" are to blame for a lot of the tension. They're early 20s, sexist, loud, inconsiderate, filthy, lazy, self-absorbed "boys" who treat their mom with complete disrespect. I'm in my early 20s and just graduated. My dad and I are constantly picking up after the boys and fixing things they have dismantled or broken. When my dad tries to talk with my stepmom about their behaviour, she becomes very frustrated and angry, and has gone so far once to kick a hole in the wall. My dad is worried about how much a second divorce will cost him. I told him his happiness matters more. He told me to never get married, and that marriage is hard. -- S.O.S. Girl, Winnipeg
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: This is your dad's problem, and you're helping him to stay. By being there to listen to his complaints it takes the urgency out of his need to move. By cleaning up after the stepbrothers, it decreases the annoyance that would help him make a move. He may even think he has to stay to continue to provide a roof over your head. You've already graduated high school and college of some kind. You need a job of ANY kind -- and to live with friends your age. You also need to tell your dad honestly what you think of his situation. Also, tell your dad NOT to put a curse on your love life by saying you shouldn't marry because he makes bad choices. Your dad doesn't have the analytic mind that you obviously do, so feel free to go ahead and make a good choice and marry the right man one day.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I had to respond when I read the letter to you about "some pot use" being OK for teens. I'm a nurse and work with addictions. There are some dangers that weren't pointed out. Since marijuana use is illegal, you're associating with criminals (drug dealers) who are often associated with gangs. Because it's unregulated, you don't know exactly what you're smoking, and there can be harder drugs in there. Also, a dealer may say one weekend, "I don't have any weed right now, but if you really want to party, try this crystal." Another important point is that while a young person's brain is still forming -- which is up to the age of 25 -- even light marijuana use will affect their IQ and short-term memory. Most importantly, even occasional marijuana use in a teen may be a sign that they are using it to cope with difficult teenage struggles. Escape is not a healthy coping mechanism in the long term. -- Nurse Who Cares, Winnipeg
Dear Nurse: Thank you for writing in with these additional points. People who are reading this -- both young and old -- also need to know that, aside from everything you said, use of the drug can cause symptoms of paranoia along with a deep lethargy that keeps users from having the ambition and ability to work hard enough to attain all their dreams.
Questions or comments? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or send letters c/o Miss Lonelyhearts, 1355 Mountain Ave. Winnipeg R2X 3B6