Worried about her friends’ kids
DEAR AMY >> How should I respond to parents of troubled offspring? These not-so-young adults seem set on destroying themselves or going to jail. Some have committed unspeakable acts and endangered others.
These parents and their sons and daughters have been my friends for many years. I saw nothing but love in their homes. I am not a parent, so I don’t trust my feelings here.
In some cases, I am so furious with the offenders that I don’t think I can be in a room with them without going into a rage. They don’t seem to realize how much their actions impact the lives of the people around them.
When I have a catch-up with my parent friends, I wait to see if they mention their wayward progeny.
I’m afraid to ask, and yet I feel it seems like I don’t care if I don’t ask. Can you guide me?
— Miss My Friends
DEAR MISS MY FRIENDS >> Your question is whether you should ask your friends about their adult children, in the polite way that people do. The answer is “yes.”
You simply ask, “How is ‘Marta’ doing right now?” The friend can either answer in detail, or give you a noncommittal brush back. If you sense tension, you can say, “Are you OK with me asking? I don’t want to upset you, but I want you to know that I care.”
There is no need for you to spend time with offenders, if it makes you uncomfortable or fills you with rage. But when communicating with these parents, leave your harsh judgment behind.
DEAR AMY >> My wife and I have a blended family. We both have adult children from previous marriages, and these children have children of their own.
Food seems to be our only issue. The children have mixed nutritional wants: One won’t eat meat, another fish, one is vegetarian and another family is vegan. Their children seem to be omnivores. During family gatherings at our home, we try and accommodate everyone’s preference.
However, when we visit their homes, they serve only what they eat and do not take into consideration our preferences. If they are vegan, we eat vegan.
Do you have any suggestions on how to keep everyone happy? Or, is this not possible?
— Not Quite Nourished
DEAR NOT QUITE NOURISHED >> Confronting this shouldn’t be an insurmountable challenge, except that you are going to have to abandon the idea of keeping everyone happy.
The simplest solution is for you to offer a vegan meal to all during these group meals. This is the most restrictive diet, and everyone can eat vegan food (certainly for one meal).
Otherwise, assign dishes. Send an email to all of the offspring: “We’re having trouble keeping up with everyone’s diets. So we’ll provide meat (and/or fish), roasted potatoes and beverages. Candace, can you bring a vegan dish and a fruit salad to share? Victoria, can you bring a vegetarian or vegan casserole? Bradley, please bring dessert?”