Los Angeles Times

Talk to traumatize­d son

- Send questions to Amy Dickinson by email to ask amy@amydickins­on.com.

Dear Amy: I am a mom with two grown children, “Charlie,” 26, and “Liza,” 23.

Liza recently let me know that she and her brother were molested for many years throughout their childhood by my sister-inlaw.

I am terribly sad that my children thought they could not come to me and tell me this when it was happening. My heart breaks for them that they endured this alone.

My daughter has been in therapy for a while now and is dealing with it. My son, however, has been using hard drugs for several years now.

I would like to tell him that I know what happened and offer to get him help.

I am torn, because this is obviously something that he does not want me to know. Should I respect his privacy, or should I tell him that his sister told me?

I am afraid if I say the wrong thing his drug use may spiral out of control again.

Heartbroke­n Mama

Dear Heartbroke­n: You should be honest with your son. Please do not let his addiction control your willingnes­s to face this heartbreak­ing challenge openly. You cannot control how he will respond, but I hope you will hold fast and stay in his corner.

Holding onto this secret must have been excruciati­ng for both of your children.

You don’t mention any consequenc­es for the adult who abused these children. I hope your daughter will permit you to attend a session with her therapist to discuss next steps, including going to the police.

Male victims of sexual violence are an underrepor­ted demographi­c, and your son deserves to tell his story, to be believed, and to receive help. Malesurviv­or.org isa resource dedicated to male survivors and those who love them. You and your son can be connected with other survivors and with counselors.

Dear Amy: I have a family member who lives out of town. She has two children under the age of 4.

They are completely out of control, screaming, crying, running and climbing on everything in sight.

I work in early childhood education and have seen a gamut of behaviors, but these two are off the charts.

My grown children have informed me that if this family is present for the holidays, they won’t be coming.

What is the answer to this situation? Tired

Dear Tired: If you’ve worked as a childhood educator, surely you have seen other parents whose behavior or reactions amplified, rather than mollified, their children.

There are ways to offer fellowship and support, where you can piggyback some gentle “coaching” onto your compassion in order to offer these overwhelme­d parents some commonsens­e advice.

If you are able to catch a quiet moment with these parents, you could start by simply asking them how things are going.

You can say, ”Well, I’ve worked with a lot of kids, and I can see that your two are very active. It’s a lot! Let me know if you’d be interested in some tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years. I also have a couple of books I could recommend, if you’re interested.”

Watching you interactin­g calmly and appropriat­ely with these children might make the lightbulb go on for the parents.

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