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Your older sister just slammed the door and said that she is leaving to spend the weekend with her boyfriend. Your parents blame each other for your sister’s problems. They also argue about money. When they yell, you want to cover your ears and disappear into the floor. You worry about your parents and sister all day at school and it is beginning to affect your grades.
Oddly enough, YOU are the one who gets noticed. Your teacher sees your falling grades. She is concerned that you look worried and you sleep during class. The teacher and guidance counselor call in your parents and recommend that you see a therapist. Wait a minute!
Your parents tell you to “open up” to this lady you never met before. The therapist talks to you, and then the whole story spills out. It’s a relief to tell someone all the things you kept inside. She asks your permission to discuss your worries with your parents. You are afraid that your parents and sister will be mad because you spilled the beans about private family matters. The therapist reminds you that your parents gave you permission to talk to her about anything at all. So it’s O.K.
She meets with your parents. They talk about their arguments with each other and with your sister. The next week, the therapist sits down with you and your parents. Your sister is refusing to come. The therapist helps you tell your parents how the yelling frightens you. You all talk about how your family can make you feel safer. In the second part of the session, the therapist asks you to sit in the waiting room while she talks to your parents. She tells you that your parents will deal with some husband and wife issues privately. That’s a relief.
After a while, your sister starts coming to sessions with the rest of the family. Sometimes, she yells and curses in the sessions. Now that you know that the family is working on the problems, it is easier to listen to her anger. One week, you stay home while your sister brings her boyfriend in to talk with your parents.
Your grades improve and you don’t worry about your family all day. Things aren’t perfect – your parents still have disagreements, and your sister hasn’t broken up with her boyfriend. Now nobody yells. You can sit down together at home and talk out the problems.