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Sandy Hook Tragedy: Teens Speak From the Heart Hey, Readers! Sometimes something happens in the world that is so overwhelmingly tragic that the attention of the nation turns to it and is affected by it. What happened at Sandy Hook Elementary is one of those tragedies: 26 people killed, including …Read more. Critter Litter Driving Her Crazy! Hey, Cherie! I have a problem with pets. It's not that I don't like animals. I love animals so much. The problem is my parents are crazy for animals, and everyone knows it. Like people who don't even know us know it. Well, we had two cats, Mittens …Read more. Girl Heartbroken Over Cat in the Hat Hey, Cherie! I'm 13, and I am the saddest girl ever. My cat, Dr. Seuss (I named him after the author who is famous and wrote "The Cat in the Hat") is my best friend. I got him from a shelter when he was just a little ball of black fur that …Read more. Years in Teen Purgatory: To Be Young and not Cute Hey, Cherie! What do you do when you are 15 years old and the funkiest-looking guy in the whole school? That's me. I can't even begin to tell you the nicknames that I have been called, so I will start by telling you about my appearance. I am …Read more.
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Dad Ditched, Now Mom Dating More Than Her Daughter


Hey, Cherie!

I'm a sophomore in high school, and this is the first year I'm allowed to go out on group dates. I was so excited to get to 10th grade because this was when my big sister Darby was allowed group dates, and I remember watching her get ready to go out with her friends and how much fun she had and how she got her first boyfriend in tenth grade.

But my family is different now than it was four years ago when Darby was my age. A year ago, my parents got divorced because my dad fell in love with my mom's best friend. I still can't believe it happened. Like, how could my mom's friend just do that behind my mom's back, and how could my dad do that to my mom? I am not speaking to my dad because what he did makes me sick.

But anyway, my mom was so sad and lonely for a while, and then she put herself on this online dating site. So then she started dating, and she loves to date! She got all happy and she dates just about every weekend and sometimes on a weeknight, too. She bought new clothes that are more revealing, like shorter skirts and high heels. She goes out a lot more than I do! She doesn't even ask about my group date if I go out with a bunch of kids to the movies. I feel like she doesn't even care. She used to wait up after Darby's dates so they could talk about it and drink hot chocolate. She never does that with me.

It is embarrassing to have a mom who is dating more than I am. It's like she's more popular and cuter, which is a weird way to think about my mom. But I feel awful to admit this because I want my mom to be happy. I remember how sad she was before, and I feel like a mean person when I have these bad thoughts. I don't want to feel bad and angry but deep inside, I do. Please tell me how to be a better person. Thank you. —Amanda P.

Hey, Amanda!

Say it loud and say it proud: AMANDA P. IS A GREAT PERSON! There is not one thing you said about anything you've done or anything you feel that is "bad." In fact, just the opposite: You're expressing great concern for your mom and compassion for what she went through. Adults messed up here, girlfriend, not you! If anyone should be feeling "bad", it's your dad and your mom's so-called "best friend." I often wonder at the selfishness of which people are capable, like what they want trumps how much it will hurt people they've vowed to love and care for.

In this entire equation, one of the people who has been hurt the most is ...

you. If you focus on your mom, you don't have to think about how sad you are. And your mom seems to have lost touch with how much love and attention you need right now. And someone needs to clue her in. You deserve those late-night hot chocolate sessions with your mom after your group dates, and, post-divorce, you probably need them even more than your sis did.

You are not not not being selfish. If you have a good relationship with Darby, confide how you feel to your big sister, and let your sis talk to your mom. I bet your mom doesn't even realize that she's not giving you the attention and time you need and deserve. In my humble opinion — and hey, it's my column (smiley face) — your mom needs to cut down on her new dating life by about 50 percent and put that energy into being with you and building you up

Hey, Cherie!

I'm just going to be totally blunt here: My parents are the cheapest people in the world. We aren't rich by a long shot but we aren't exactly poor either. Well, my parents act like we are poor. Our vacuum cleaner doesn't even work, like it hardly picks up anything. It's too far gone to get it fixed, but they refuse to buy a new one. We have three cats, and there is cat hair everywhere. I have to sweep our carpets! I'm the only one who cares. It is so gross. What do I do? —Cat Hair Girl

Hey, Cat Hair!

No vacuum ?? Can I just say: ewww? You can't sweep cat hair out of a carpet. But then you already know that. Try borrowing a vacuum from a friend, and Hoover the heck out of your carpet. I'm hoping that when your parents see how great the carpet looks, they'll want to own a vacuum. You can do some online research for affordable vacuums, and your parents can even pay the vacuum off monthly if they want. You could throw in something about lack of hygiene in your house without the carpet ever getting vacuumed or your personal mortification at going to school in a hair shirt. Whatever works.

Cherie Bennett is a best-selling author of books for teens and young adults. Visit her website at To find out more about Cherie Bennett and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



11 Comments | Post Comment
@Cherie -- just so you know, in some regions of the U.S., "sweeping a carpet" means "vacuuming a carpet." My guess is Cat Hair Girl isn't trying to use a broom to get the cat hair out of the carpet -- she is using the broken vacuum and because she's the one who uses the vacuum, she's the one most acutely aware of the fact that it doesn't work well. Don't get me wrong, the rest of your advice is good, I just wanted to point out that the LW is almost certainly using the vacuum, it's just not doing a good job since "it hardly picks up anything."
Comment: #1
Posted by: Lisa
Thu Dec 6, 2012 9:08 AM
One other point -- why do I have a feeling that this girl is going to be almost as mortified about asking to borrow a friend's vacuum as she is about the cat hair everywhere?
Comment: #2
Posted by: Lisa
Thu Dec 6, 2012 9:10 AM
Cherie, if you read BTL, I just wanted to say that I like the way you advise young people. Keep up the good work!
Comment: #3
Posted by: Danielle
Thu Dec 6, 2012 10:42 AM
Cat hair: How do you know the vacuum can't be fixed?
One thing possible is there is something stuck in the hose that leads into the vacuum learner. Use a flashlight to look through the hose to see if anything's there. You can straighten a wire hanger and put it through the hose to get out anything stuck.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Hi there
Fri Dec 7, 2012 6:21 AM
I could be a clog. It could also be as simple as a broken belt. That's a cheap repair.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Carla
Fri Dec 7, 2012 6:57 AM
Um, Cherie...Major blunder here with your advice. How on earth could you suggest that big sis talk to mom on the girl's behalf before first uggesting the girl talk to mom herself?? Based on what LW1 says in her letter, it doesn't sound like she's even attempted to speak to her mother about her concerns or tell mom what she wants or that she misses her mom or needs her. LW1 needs to talk to her mom and tell her what she wants in a serious way, and not expect big sis to do it.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Paul W
Fri Dec 7, 2012 8:18 AM
Paul, sometimes someone else is needed to help teenage girl to communicate something to her mother for one reason or another. Mother could blow off her daughter's concerns or feelings without someone else getting though to her. Girl is shy or not sure how to tell her mother.

Lisa, if the vacuum doesn't work then I'm thinking the girl is really using broom.

Regardless of folks saying how the vacuum can be fixed or little fix it advice, the problem is the parents don't seem to care to help fix the vacuum for the girl to help clean the house which only she cares about. Perhaps it is truly piece of garbage since the girl says her parents don't like to spend money on getting it fixed or buying new one or perhaps even buying anything for the home and the whole house has items that need replacing.
Comment: #7
Posted by: Kath
Fri Dec 7, 2012 10:12 AM
@Kath -- it's certainly possible that the vacuum has completely stopped working and that she is using a broom. I was just pointing out that I know a number of people who talk about "sweeping" when they are, in fact, using a vacuum -- it's a pretty common "dialect," if you will. And she says that it "hardly picks up anything," which, almost by definition, means that it is still picking up SOMETHING (just not much -- and clearly not nearly enough!). I also know that some teens (not all) can be a bit prone to exaggerate, so I assumed (perhaps incorrectly) that she is still using the vacuum, but it's not working well, which in turn means the job is much harder and takes longer (and isn't really getting done, because it would be awfully hard to do a good job with a vacuum that barely picks anything up). I also know that many teens (not all) probably wouldn't have any way of knowing whether a vacuum really can be fixed or not, or whether it would be cheaper to buy a new one than to try to fix it, etc. I don't mean to minimize what's going on here or make it sound like I think she's just a whiny teen who doesn't know any better or anything like that -- I'm just saying there's a decent possibility here that she actually still is using the nearly useless vacuum.

But I certainly agree with you that:

1) It's totally possible that the vacuum no longer works at all and she is literally sweeping with a broom.
2) It's totally possible that the vacuum cannot be fixed (or would be more expensive to fix than to buy a new one)
3) The real problem seems to be that her parents simply don't care enough to do anything about the vacuum.

It's just that it is equally possible that:

1) she's actually still using the vacuum, it just doesn't do a good job at all
2) the vacuum can be easily fixed
3) Her parents care, but their financial situation is a whole lot worse than this girl realizes -- they would hardly be the first parents to successfully keep from their children just how dire their straits really are.
Comment: #8
Posted by: Lisa
Fri Dec 7, 2012 2:02 PM
Re: When my vacuum cleaner stops picking up, I change the bag. Has anyone thought of that?
Comment: #9
Posted by: LouisaFinnell
Fri Dec 7, 2012 9:30 PM
Oh, for goodness' sake, there's one MORE possibility:

LW actually IS "sweeping" carpeted flooring using a manual carpet sweeper -- not a broom, but the kind of device that's often used in restaurants to silently clean up crumbs on the floor during business hours, when a vacuum would be disruptive.

These sell for about $20 to $60 -- cheaper than a vacuum, and reviews on Amazon indicate that some of them ARE effective on pet hair, at least in the beginning. I've not used one, so I can't say HOW effective, for how long, or what they require in the way of maintenance, but it might be an option for LW to suggest to her parents if a new vacuum isn't in the budget.
Comment: #10
Posted by: hedgehog
Sun Dec 9, 2012 6:59 PM
LW1: You need to stop comparing everything or you're going to be a miserable person who is too stupid to figure out how to be happy. Boyfriends aren't prizes - they're people so "getting" one shouldn't be a goal. Stop writing strangers for advice. You need to be talking to your mom about this. Also, research self-esteem and then take steps to find it.

LW2: Stop cleaning and stop spending so much time at home if it's that gross. You can't change other people - you can only work around them.
Comment: #11
Posted by: Diana
Mon Dec 10, 2012 8:13 AM
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