DEAR AMY: My parents are in their late 60s and early 70s, and to say they "bicker like an old married couple" would be a huge understatement. Every little thing either does annoys the other to the point of yelling and screaming. My father is disabled, and I, 23, still live at home to help him with day-to-day stuff, taking care of the house, etc. I've tried telling them it's both of their faults, that if one isn't starting something, it's the other. But that just leads to more yelling and finger-pointing. Both have made the empty threat of wanting to move out. They've never been physically abusive to each other, but the yelling and name-calling is there constantly. How can I stop this mutual abuse and bring some peace into our house?
DEAR DESPERATE: I am so sorry your home life is like this. It sounds truly terrible, and I think you should move out. There is no way that you -- at age 23 -- can possibly effectively mediate between your parents to change this dynamic in a lasting way. I assume that you are a loving, caring young adult, but this is poisonous, potentially dangerous, and it is bad for you -- for all of you.
A book I believe you will find very helpful is, "Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life," by Susan Forward and Craig Buck (2002, Bantam).
You should research other solutions in terms of whatever benefits your parents might qualify for. Your local Office on Aging and Department of Social Services could help set them up with alternative housing and home care. Please do your best to enlist a social worker to help.
DEAR AMY: A new TV was installed in the break room of the office where I work. I stare at a computer screen for eight hours every day, and I look forward to a one-hour break from looking at a screen during my lunch. The problem is that during lunch the TV is always on. I can eat outside some days, but it is extremely hot where I live, so eating outside every day is not an option. I have to take my lunch at the same time as everyone else. How do I ask for a TV compromise that won't ruffle too many feathers?
Tired of Screens
DEAR TIRED: You should speak with your supervisor about this. This TV was recently installed, and you should assume that they are interested in feedback from employees. The pitch you should make is that you believe the TV will impede morale and productivity.
I agree with you that the last thing most of us need during a break is more noise, more screens and more trash.