Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: My youngest son, "Steve," is 20 and had a few struggles in his teenage years. These included some depression, a little alcohol, some marijuana and ADD. We raised our kids in a loving, solid and good home, but my relationship with Steve became strained as I tried to help him (or, in his opinion, "interfere") in his life. He now works in another town, but was visiting the other day. His dad had received a new coat, which he had hung over the back of the chair. I lifted the coat to hang it up properly, and felt and heard something in the pocket. I reached inside and found a prescription bottle for my son. I realized that it was my son's coat, not my husband's new coat. I looked up the pill description online and found it is medicine for an STD. What scared me most is that it had been filled three weeks earlier and he hadn't taken the pills. With his ADD, he forgets things, loses things, etc. I want to encourage him to take the medicine, but he will know I looked in his coat and will think I was snooping. The point, however, is that I am concerned for his health and future. Is this something I should ignore? Can you give me the right words to say if and when I approach him with this touchy and awkward topic?
-- Worried Mom
DEAR MOM: Sometimes silence is the answer.
Think it through. Are you going to follow your son through life, metaphorically checking his pockets and reminding him to get out of bed and go to work, helping him locate his car keys, prompting him to pay his bills, etc.? No doubt you've been doing this quite a bit to compensate for his ADD, but he is going to have to come up with strategies to deal with these things on his own.
If you choose to say something to him, you should at the minimum admit that you were snooping (because you were) and that you are "interfering," (because you are). Then say, "I saw you had a medication bottle in your pocket. I worry about your health. Are you OK?" After that, accept any explanation he offers and move on.
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