Ask Amy

The Denver Post - - FEATURES - by Amy Dickinson

Dear Amy: My cousin’s daugh­ter, who has al­ways been like a niece to me, slipped into an ad­dic­tion to pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tion two years ago. Dur­ing the pe­riod of time when she was ad­dicted, she was work­ing for me and my hus­band as a house cleaner.

Not sur­pris­ingly, money, my hus­band’s pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tions and other items went miss­ing from our house. When this was dis­cov­ered, we were very up­set. We had just hosted her and her chil­dren on an all-ex­penses-paid va­ca­tion. She got help, got sober and started work­ing the “steps” of her pro­gram.

Al­though she has apol­o­gized to both of us, she seems to have the ex­pec­ta­tion that this is all that is nec­es­sary to make amends. She is be­hav­ing as if our re­la­tion­ship should now go on as be­fore. This in­cludes ask­ing us for fi­nan­cial help.

My hus­band is never wants to have any­thing to do with her, ever again.

My cur­rent con­tact with her is very cir­cum­scribed by my de­sire to re­spect my hus­band’s wishes. We do not live in the same city any longer, so op­por­tu­ni­ties to see her are ex­tremely limited.

I miss her and her chil­dren. In light of my re­la­tion­ship with her go­ing back to her child­hood, I strug­gle with the is­sue of whether I am be­ing com­pletely fair to her and her chil­dren by putting my hus­band’s feel­ings and needs first. — An­other Fam­ily Up­ended by Ad­dic­tion

Dear An­other Fam­ily: Your hus­band isn’t re­ally de­scrib­ing a need. He is sim­ply declar­ing that his re­la­tion­ship with your cousin is over.

He has ev­ery right to in­sist that some­one who has stolen from your house­hold should stay away from the house­hold. But this woman is your rel­a­tive, and he doesn’t get to dic­tate the course of your re­la­tion­ship with her and her chil­dren.

You cousin’s re­cov­ery over her ad­dic­tion is fairly re­cent, and if she needs to do more than sim­ply apol­o­gize to you, you should let her know. The con­cept of mak­ing amends is an im­por­tant one in re­cov­ery. She needs to work on this. The flip side of amends is for­give­ness. This is some­thing for you and your hus­band to work on.

She should not be hit­ting you up for money. And if she is able and will­ing to have a re­la­tion­ship with you with­out the prom­ise of money, then you should con­sider ways to do


Dear Amy: I’m 62 and have two older sis­ters. Old­est Sis­ter and I have al­ways had a close re­la­tion­ship, while our re­la­tion­ships with Mid­dle Sis­ter have been strained for most of our lives.

About two years be­fore our mother died, Mid­dle Sis­ter, who had med­i­cal power of at­tor­ney, made ar­range­ments in con­flict with our mother’s wishes. I ended up hir­ing a lawyer to stop it. Be­cause of this ac­tion, Mid­dle Sis­ter and her daugh­ters dis­owned me. They also dis­owned Old­est Sis­ter, be­cause she and I are close.

Fast-for­ward three years. Pok­ing around Face­book, I found cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence in­di­cat­ing that Mid­dle Sis­ter’s old­est daugh­ter had a baby last year.

My dilemma is whether to share this in­for­ma­tion with Old­est Sis­ter, who doesn’t use so­cial me­dia.

On the one hand, I think Old­est Sis­ter would like to know about the ex­is­tence of this new mem­ber of the fam­ily; on the other hand, she’ll be up­set that she didn’t re­ceive a birth an­nounce­ment or phone call with the news. — Ousted Aunt

Dear Ousted: Yes, you should tell her. It sounds as if this en­tire sit­u­a­tion is al­ready up­set­ting; but your sis­ter should know what­ever nuggets of in­for­ma­tion you know.

A new child in the fam­ily rep­re­sents an op­por­tu­nity for you both to reach out to the child’s par­ents, which might help to thaw this dif­fi­cult freeze, at least be­tween you and the younger gen­er­a­tion.

Dear Amy: “Feel­ing Pro­tec­tive” was wor­ried about leav­ing her 3- and 5-year-old chil­dren with their el­derly grand­par­ents, who were stay­ing in a place with a pool. Amy, those chil­dren should take swim­ming lessons. It is ex­tremely im­por­tant that young chil­dren learn to swim. — Con­cerned

Dear Con­cerned: I agree, but even with lessons, these two chil­dren are too young to be left near wa­ter with­out con­stant su­per­vi­sion.

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