Par­ents mull daugh­ter’s prison con­tact

Orlando Sentinel - - Comics / Puzzles -

Dear Amy: My hus­band and I have raised our grand­daugh­ter, “Al­lie,” since she was 3 years old. We adopted her a few years ago. She is now 13. Her bi­o­log­i­cal mother (our daugh­ter) got into drugs, al­co­hol and steal­ing to sup­port her habit. She has stolen and be­trayed us and other fam­ily mem­bers, has been in jail many times and is cur­rently in prison for the sec­ond time. When she is in­car­cer­ated, she al­ways writes let­ters to us say­ing how badly she has messed up, how ter­ri­ble her life is and ask­ing for for­give­ness — but the main point is to ask us to send money and items to make her time eas­ier.

Each time she is re­leased, she quickly falls back into her old cy­cle. This has been go­ing on for 20 years.

Her last let­ter also con­tained a let­ter for Al­lie — ask­ing her to write and send pic­tures.

I did not show this to Al­lie, but now I’m won­der­ing if I should. I have tried to spare her the sor­did de­tails and say that her mom has men­tal prob­lems.

Al­lie is well-ad­justed, has friends and does well in school. She oc­ca­sion­ally be­comes very tear­ful and sad that she doesn’t have a “nor­mal” mom (her fa­ther has never been in the pic­ture).

I thought we would let her de­cide what kind of re­la­tion­ship she wants with her par­ents when she’s old enough. But how do I know when she is old enough? We’ve told her mom that she can­not visit with Al­lie un­til she is clean and sober for at least six months.

Dear Won­der­ing: I think it’s time to level with “Al­lie.” Keeping all of this a se­cret might cre­ate more prob­lems than it would solve. How­ever, I think it’s vi­tal that you also find a qual­i­fied coun­selor who can meet with all of you in or­der to guide fam­ily con­ver­sa­tions and serve as a sup­port­ive neu­tral party for Al­lie to com­mu­ni­cate with, as she tries to nav­i­gate this chal­leng­ing is­sue.

You should be hon­est with Al­lie about the depth of her mother’s prob­lems. Do not paint her as a bad per­son, but as some­one who has an ad­dic­tion dis­or­der and makes ter­ri­ble and de­struc­tive choices, over and over again.

Give Al­lie the let­ter from her mother. Tell her that you will help if she wants to con­tact her mother. I think it’s also im­por­tant that you con­tinue to read and mon­i­tor any let­ters sent to Al­lie, in or­der to make sure that she is not be­ing ma­nip­u­lated or asked to send money.

Al­lie’s at­ti­tude re­gard­ing this will cy­cle as she grows older. You want to be the steady, un­flap­pable peo­ple in her cor­ner — al­ways avail­able, hon­est and pro­tec­tive.

Dear Amy: We are three sis­ters. I am the old­est, my sis­ter “C” is a year younger, and our third sis­ter, “A,” is 10 years younger than us. “C” and “A” are both artists.

A is cur­rently liv­ing over­seas. Re­cently, she sent me a small arty gift from an art sup­ply out­let. There was no spe­cial oc­ca­sion; we had been en­joy­ing our email com­mu­ni­ca­tions, and maybe she sent it to help me get through the pan­demic iso­la­tion.

I men­tioned the gift to my mid­dle sis­ter, C, who then said that A had sent her the same thing but mi­nus the paint and the roller.

I said, “A prob­a­bly didn’t send you the paint and the roller be­cause she fig­ured you al­ready had some.”

I thought this since both are artists, this ex­pla­na­tion made sense.

C was of­fended and felt slighted. Now I’m sorry I men­tioned it. What is the best way to han­dle this?

Dear M: This mat­ter is al­most de­light­fully triv­ial. Dur­ing these dark days ... well, what can I say? It’s a re­lief to see that sis­ters are still do­ing the sis­ter-thing.

And as one of three sis­ters my­self, I get it.

Please — you have done noth­ing wrong. Let these two artists paint them­selves out of this cor­ner.

Dear Amy: In re­sponse to “Tired Ears,” I had a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion with my niece. She would call and talk non­stop. Mostly she wanted to rant about her mother (my sis­ter) and how her mother al­ways hated her, etc. So not true!

Fi­nally, I’d had it. I said to her, “Do not talk about my sis­ter any­more.”

She was shocked, but it worked.

We have been in a lov­ing re­la­tion­ship ever since.

Dear Worked: Boundaries: They work!

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