DEAR ABBY: My sister “Thea” has distanced herself from the family. I understand why she did. Our parents were mentally, physically and emotionally abusive while we were growing up, with one who instigated the issues and the other taking it out on us kids.

I feel stuck in the middle of chaos. My parents have started to work on their behaviors and make amends for past conduct. It comes a bit too late for apologies, even for me, but I decided to give them a second chance since they seem sincere. Thea told them she wants nothing to do with them.

Recently, she contacted me asking me to suggest that my parents help out a family member who was in dire straits. I told Thea I would suggest it, but I couldn’t guarantee what their response would be. Their response was that if she wanted something from them, she needed to ask them herself and not through an intermediary.

I’m at a loss as to how to tell both sides that I’m tired of being the middleman, as this has become an emotional thing between all parties involved. I’m also not sure how to open the discussion for them to air their differences whether they reconcile or not. Help! — STUCK IN THE MIDDLE

DEAR STUCK: Thea has cut herself off from your parents for good reason. You are no more “in the middle” than you want to be. Tell your sister that if a family member is in trouble, THAT person should approach your parents and ask for help, not do it through you or another intermediary.

DEAR ABBY: I have a 27-year-old son, “Bobby.” He was living with me and his grandma, and two years ago he got a puppy, which I took care of, potty-trained and fed. “Champ” even slept with me. Needless to say, he became a family dog, and my 83-year-old mom became quite attached to him.

Bobby started dating a gal. After four months, they decided to move in together, and he took Champ with him. My mom has been crying every day for our pet.

Because they both work, they leave Champ home alone all day, and he howls until they get home. I asked Bobby if we could have visitation once a week because we miss Champ so much. His girlfriend got involved and told me Champ is their dog and they are not sharing him. I was very upset since he was our dog for two years.

I no longer have a relationship with my son over the dog and girlfriend, and my mother has a broken heart. Am I wrong here? — CANINE WAR IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR WAR: You weren’t wrong to be upset. Your mistake was letting the disagreement cause an estrangement from your son. If Champ’s incessant howling causes a problem for Bobby’s neighbors, he and his girlfriend might be receptive to letting you and Grandma take him while they are working. However, if they cannot see the logic, consider adopting a rescue dog to ease your mother’s aching heart and give her something else to love other than Champ.

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