Ask Amy

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - by Amy Dickinson

Our el­derly par­ents have al­ways had a blind spot for our brother, who is in and out of re­hab for al­co­hol and drug abuse, le­gal prob­lems, and fi­nan­cial crises of his own mak­ing. Now it ap­pears that he has aban­doned his kids, who live hun­dreds of miles away.

He makes him­self out to be the vic­tim of un­fair bosses, a bad em­ploy­ment mar­ket, an un­sta­ble wife, evil in-laws, etc.

He is in his mid-50s and has been liv­ing with my par­ents on and off over the last two years. He helps them out at his con­ve­nience, but oth­er­wise does what­ever he wants.

My par­ents are older and I’d like to have a re­la­tion­ship with them, but their world seems to re­volve around their de­pen­dent son.

We live in the same town and he is con­stantly with them. (He lost his li­cense.) When I tried to ex­press con­cern about their en­abling him, my mom got an­gry and de­fen­sive. They claim they’re “stay­ing out of it” by not dis­cussing his on­go­ing ad­dic­tion, fi­nan­cial trou­bles, fam­ily is­sues, etc., but as long as my brother is liv­ing a com­fort­able and en­abled life with them, his prob­lems are their prob­lems.

I don’t want to be around this, so I avoid them, but I feel guilty. Any sug­ges­tions? — Way­ward Daugh­ter

Dear Daugh­ter: You are ob­vi­ously very up­set with your brother and are judg­men­tal about his ad­dic­tion and fi­nan­cial and work prob­lems, as well as his re­la­tion­ships with his chil­dren and your par­ents. You should share your frank and hon­est views of how his be­hav­ior is af­fect­ing you, di­rectly with him.

Your par­ents are free to make their own choices, in­clud­ing the choice to pos­si­bly im­pede your brother’s progress by en­abling him. How­ever, if he is cur­rently sober, this fairly sta­ble and low-stress life with your par­ents might be help­ing him to stay sober. If he is cur­rently drink­ing, then this life­style might be en­abling his ad­dic­tion.

You and your sis­ters should all read up on ad­dic­tion and at­tend Al-anon meet­ings (Al-anon.org). What you will learn is that while you have a right to your own anger and re­sent­ment, you, too, must sur­ren­der to oth­ers’ rights to make ter­ri­ble choices. If you think your par­ents are be­ing co­erced, forced, or abused, you should act to pro­tect them. Oth­er­wise, ac­cept­ing some sim­ple re­al­i­ties may lib­er­ate you from your anger.

Dear Amy: Our son is go­ing to get mar­ried. What are typ­i­cal ex­penses a groom’s par­ents should plan on cov­er­ing? We have been sav­ing up and are look­ing for­ward to the ex­pe­ri­ence. I’m guess­ing that some of this de­pends on what we are asked to pro­vide. The wed­ding will be lo­cal, which helps tremen­dously. — Par­ents of the Groom

Dear Par­ents: Tra­di­tion­ally, the bride’s par­ents have been ex­pected to cover the ma­jor­ity of the costs of the wed­ding and re­cep­tion, with the groom’s par­ents host­ing the “re­hearsal” din­ner, the night be­fore the wed­ding.

How­ever, tra­di­tion needn’t dic­tate the way your son and his fu­ture spouse han­dle their wed­ding. I’m of the firm view that the cou­ple should be in charge of their own wed­ding, and that in­cludes fi­nanc­ing it. This means that the cou­ple may use their own sav­ings to pay for their wed­ding, or they may go to each fam­ily and ask them to help de­fray the cost.

You might of­fer the cou­ple a set amount, which they could use for their wed­ding, hon­ey­moon, or to put to­ward a down pay­ment on a house. If they would like for you to host the re­hearsal din­ner, you could deduct that cost from the to­tal, and give them the rest.

Dear Amy: “T” re­ported feel­ing be­trayed when her work­place crush re­vealed he had a girl­friend.

The woman had “Pho­to­shopped” her work-mate into her fu­ture. When things took a sur­pris­ing turn, she jumped to the con­clu­sion that she is des­tined to be alone. She was run­ning a video in her head, and he could not read, nor see, the sub­ti­tles. — Ex­pe­ri­enced

Dear Ex­pe­ri­enced: It is also pos­si­ble that “T’s” work mate de­lib­er­ately led her on.

Dear Amy: I am one of three sis­ters who live rel­a­tively sta­ble and pro­duc­tive lives after some rough patches grow­ing up.

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