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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Maybe timeout at sister’s will help

Marcy Sugar and Kathy Mitchell Creators Syndicate

Dear Annie: My father has always been especially unkind to my sister, “Portia.” She always has had behavioral problems, not to mention she is a bit paranoid and has a ferocious temper. Portia also drinks too much and continues to contact her abusive ex-boyfriend.

My older sister and I try to show Portia lots of love, but Dad usually deals with her problems with anger, insults and general vitriol. Though he has occasionally shown her support over the years, he usually singles her out as the “problem” child. There have been times when he has screamed and even intervened physically when my sisters have fought, always pinning the blame on Portia.

Recently, Dad’s anger has grown and he reacts testily to every comment or question Portia makes. He even reacts poorly to my mother, and is now talking about moving in with his sister in another state until his depression and anxiety subside.

Dad’s behavior seems really disturbing to me and borders on abuse. Yet my mother submits over and over to his anger. What should we do? – Afraid of Escalation

Dear Afraid: There’s not much you can do for your mother, who doesn’t see this as a serious problem. She is accustomed to Dad’s moods and prefers to avoid confrontation. Would your father see a doctor about his depression and anxiety instead of waiting for them to “subside” on their own? Portia’s issues may be genetically linked to her father’s, and she also is likely to benefit from both medical intervention and therapy.

If your father wishes to move in with his sister for a while, then that will provide an opportunity for everyone to calm down. Dad obviously recognizes that he has a problem and that a little distance can help. Perhaps his sister will convince him to talk to his doctor.

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