Los Angeles Times

Get son to make amends

- Email questions to Amy Dickinson at askamy@amydickins­on.com.

Dear Amy: My family and I (husband and two teens) live with my very elderly parents. I purchased the house from the trust after my parents proposed the idea.

I have a third child in his 30s, who is not living with us. My son has a long history of incarcerat­ions and has two felonies for theft and drug offenses.

He has been out of prison for over a year. He lives with friends and at times with his father (my ex). He’s not exactly a model citizen but is keeping out of trouble.

He has his mail sent to our house. Whenever he stops over to get it, my mother becomes really nervous, anxious and fearful. She won’t hug him, make eye contact or converse.

She has not forgiven him for stealing Grandpa’s credit card and cash from them when he was a teen.

She has basically disowned him for his failures, and I’m guessing she’s embarrasse­d by him too.

They were really close when he was a child. As far as I’m concerned, he’s done his time, he is family, and he shouldn’t be disowned.

Grandma recently told him (when I was in the other room) that he can’t stop at the house anymore.

I like to see him occasional­ly and am not afraid of him stealing. He is not dangerous. Your advice?

Forgiving Mom

Dear Mom: Your son may have paid his debt to society, but his reconcilia­tion should happen at home.

You could start by encouragin­g him to make amends. Has he sincerely acknowledg­ed and apologized for his actions? Attempted to repay them? If not, he should. He might do this in a letter, carefully written and sent to your folks.

Be gentle with your mother. Ask her to describe her feelings about this, and patiently reassure her. Ask her, “What could he do to make you feel more comfortabl­e?”

Dear Amy: My mom had a

series of devastatin­g strokes 17 years ago. Since then, she has been in and out of nursing homes and hospitals. My dad has severe arthritis in his knees and is awaiting surgery.

My brother and his wife are heavy drinkers. I try to avoid their drunken shenanigan­s. My brother has basically written all of us off. He initiates no contact on the false premise that we have abandoned him.

When I contacted him about mom’s nursing home and gave an update on our dad, my brother said he doesn’t care and abruptly ended the conversati­on.

My sister and I, along with our husbands, have been doing the heavy lifting regarding our parents’ home maintenanc­e and our father’s care. Not once has our brother offered to help. Should I continue to try to give my brother updates, or should I just write him off?

As their son, I still feel like he has a right to know what’s going on with his parents.

Dutiful Daughter

Dear Dutiful: Yes, your brother does have a “right” to know about his parents. But with rights come responsibi­lities.

His behavior runs in something of a vicious cycle. Because he is not helpful, he must also reject you. Because he rejects you, he can justify not being helpful.

To satisfy your own concerns, you should email him: “You don’t seem to want to hear from me, but do you want to receive occasional health updates about our parents? I’ll respect your decision; just let me know.”

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