Friend wor­ries about her friends’ trou­bled kids

The Expositor (Brantford) - - LIFE - ASK AMY AMY DICK­IN­SON

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. I’m re­luc­tant to make a con­nec­tion for fear they think I’m be­ing snoopy. I just want to hang out with my old bud­dies! Can you guide me? — MISS MY FRIENDS Dear Miss My Friends: The way you present this, you are sur­rounded — or feel sur­rounded — by friends and their felo­nious off­spring. I truly hope this is not the case.

Your ques­tion is whether you should ask your friends about their adult chil­dren, in the po­lite way that peo­ple do. The an­swer is “yes.”

It doesn’t seem like snoop­ing if 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. Re­gard­less of how you may feel, you should as­sume that they con­tinue to love and care about their chil­dren.

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, but it can be dif­fi­cult, as no one is will­ing to budge off their own diet.

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.

It seems to be a one-way food street, with us try­ing to go in both di­rec­tions. It can get frus­trat­ing, to say the least.

I’d like to say some­thing to ev­ery­one in­volved, but I don’t know how with­out caus­ing dis­cord. 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. These adults are re­spon­si­ble for their own happiness. You only need to rus­tle up some chow.

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?”

And then yes, when you are at their house, you should eat what they serve. If you need or want to eat meat at the ve­gan or veg­e­tar­ian fam­ily’s house, then you can bring a dish to sup­ple­ment what they are of­fer­ing.

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