DEAR AMY: My mother is 89 years old. At 85, she declined to renew her driver’s license, acknowledging that it was time she stopped driving. However, she still has access to two cars and drives each around the block once a week to keep them running. My siblings and I have told her that her behavior is irresponsible, illegal and dangerous, but she ignores it. She has developed contacts (friends, relatives, Uber) to transport her to activities, but last week she told one of my siblings, “I’m still driving the car around the block, and you’re not the boss of me.” What is the best way to handle this? Since she has no license, the DMV will be no help. We have tried reasoning with her, but that hasn’t worked. Should I call the police and report her?
DEAR DAUGHTER: Do you know for certain that your mother is driving around the block? Or is she merely telling you and your siblings that she is doing this, in order to remind you that she is still in charge of her own life?
It is illegal for unlicensed drivers to drive — even around the block. Your mother knows this, and in some sense, her choice to do this proves that she isn’t being a very good boss to herself. This choice shows poor judgment.
Is your mother keeping up the registration and insurance on two cars? This seems a needless expense.
You and your siblings have told her what to do — probably repeatedly. But have you asked her substantial and open-ended questions lately, and listened carefully to her answers?
Say, “This choice of yours doesn’t seem logical, and so I’m wondering — can you tell me why you are still driving?” Sit quietly and listen to her response. And then sit quietly and listen to the next three (or 10) things she says. Just hear her out.
When she is done, respond compassionately: “I’m really so sorry, Mom. I can tell this is hard. You were always the wheels in the family! When I think of all those soccer practices and family vacations...”
I’m asking you to help her let go.
Don’t threaten, wag your finger, or tsk tsk her. You are not an 89-year-old woman. You don’t know what it feels like. Be humble enough to recognize this.
After you have this calmer and more compassionate encounter with your mother, you’ll have to use your own judgment regarding what to do. If you place a non-emergency call to the local police station, an officer might be willing to swing by to check on her and confirm that she is not driving — even around the block — without a license.
DEAR AMY: I have a dilemma. My daughter, who is 22, confided in me that one of her best friends from high school smokes pot. My daughter does not hang out with her because they attend different colleges. I was very close to this girl when she was growing up. She was at my house all the time. Her mom and I are still very good friends. My daughter says to stay out of it and to not tell her mom. I was very disappointed to hear this about my daughter’s friend. I’m not sure what I should do. What do you think? Should I tell the mother what the daughter is doing?
DEAR WORRIED: I don’t think you should do anything. Would you report back to this mother if her (legal age) daughter had a cocktail?
Marijuana is quickly attaining legal status; the jury seems to be out on how casual and occasional marijuana use affects people over time.
Unless this young woman has health problems or serious risk factors relating to her marijuana use, you have no cause to report it to her mommy.
Plus — it’s simply none of your business.
DEAR AMY: Amy, I thought you must have been napping when you answered the letter from “Worried Friend,” the man who “by an absolutely bizarre twist of fate” somehow “discovered” that their young family friend had a very active side career as a porn actress. He wondered how this would impact her life and career, and whether he should speak to her or her parents. Although I mostly agreed with your advice to this person, I was hoping that you would speculate on the “bizarre twist of fate” that had this man stumbling onto this. Where was your wit?!
DEAR DISAPPOINTED: Sorry, but I’ve got nothing.