Dear Mom and Dad, you’ve taught me about bullies in school and what to do if I ever run into one. And you’ve always told me to be honest and to not be afraid to tell you things.

Well, I run into bullies every day. Two of them. The two of you. No, you don’t push me around or threaten to beat me up. But it hurts me to watch you hurt each other every day. I don’t mean like hit each other, because I’ve never seen you do that. It’s when you do those other things that hurt each other.

You have big arguments about small things. Like Dad leaving his socks on the bedroom floor or Mom’s stuff taking up the whole counter in the bathroom. I don’t think you’re really arguing about those things. I think you’re mad about other things and you’re just trying to get back at each other. Like I did when my friend got that new bike and I was jealous so I said those mean things.

Sometimes, it seems like you fight without fighting. You don’t say a word to each other, but then Dad yells at us about little things. Mom, you don’t yell, but you sure slam a lot of doors and push the kitchen drawers in so hard I think something is going to break. Is that why your favorite picture fell off the wall? And then you disappear for an hour or two and I don’t know where you’re at. At least when Dad goes to hide in the garage to drink beer and get away, I know where he is. But can’t you just try talking to each other?

You both think sarcasm is funny. It isn’t. Sarcasm is mean things that just pretend to be funny. Dad, when you call Mom fat, you’re not teasing her. You’re really trying to hurt her and hiding behind sarcasm. Mom, you do the same thing when you make those mean jokes about Dad drinking.

And Mom, I get so scared when I hear you say you’re going to pack up and leave, or Dad, when you start talking about getting a divorce. I have friends at school whose parents got divorced and I don’t want that to happen to our family. Do you really mean those things, or are you just trying to hurt each other?

Here’s why I’m really scared. When I grow up, I’m probably going to fall in love with someone and marry them. I’m sure they’ll be a wonderful person, but will I know how to treat them the right way? There aren’t any classes in school about that, so the only way I can learn what to do is by watching the adults around me, and yours is the marriage I see the most. I know you don’t want me to end up in an unhappy marriage, but unless you start treating each other with real love and respect, how will I know better?

Please stop bullying each other. And if you can’t do it on your own, there are people in a place called Care to Change that can show you better ways to communicate. If you don’t do it for the sake of your own marriage, please do it for the sake of mine.

Love, your child.

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