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LifestyleColumnistsAsk Amy

Mother’s drinking causes problems for her kids

DEAR AMY: My children are friends with a set of siblings. The kids enjoy spending time together, and their mother has even baby-sat for me on occasion. She publicly announced on social media that my husband and I were great parents and my kids were very well behaved. Her daughter had a birthday party a couple weeks ago. My kids spent the night. My son, who is 10, had his older brother’s phone with him that night. I guess at some point my son showed to the other children a video of me in a drunken state. I had no idea that the video existed, and I was completely embarrassed that my older son had taken this video and was taunting me in it. I am not mad at my child for being a kid and thinking that the video was funny, yet the mother of the other children thought that it was a huge deal. I have a tendency to overindulge in alcohol at times. I admit that. But this woman has completely cut off contact with us and will not allow even our daughters (who had nothing to do with this) to be friends any longer. I am having the hardest time letting this go, because I feel she is being petty and unfair to our children. I also cannot stop feeling embarrassed and self-critical because the taping occurred right in front of my face, but I cannot remember it. I am a hardworking mother of three with a lot of stress, and yes I do drink to unwind after a long day at work. How can I get past this emotionally for my well-being, and how do I explain to my children that they can no longer hang with their best buds?

Upset

DEAR UPSET: Alcohol makes it harder, not easier, for you to cope with stress. Your claim that you drink to “unwind” because you’re such a hardworking and busy mom is nothing more than an excuse to paper over your drinking problem.

This episode is a gift, wrapped in a crisis. You are focused on your own embarrassment, but you should also consider how confusing and embarrassing this is for your children.

Start untangling this by owning your drinking problem and working hard, starting now, to do something about it. Alcoholism is a progressive disease. You have probably spent years working up to this moment.

There are a number of techniques to try, including yoga, meditation, nutrition, and 12-step programs; if you cannot control this on your own, a counselor could mentor you.

This other mother seems to be punishing your children because of your behavior, but surely you understand that she would not be comfortable having her children at your house. I hope you can communicate calmly with her to work this out, so your kids can continue to be friends.

DEAR AMY: I have a nephew who is 9 years old. My brother left him and his mother shortly after he was born. I have felt bad about it ever since. My nephew has an older brother from his mom’s first marriage. When they were little and I would send my blood nephew birthday and Christmas cards, I would also send them to his brother. His brother calls me “Auntie,” too, and I did not want to hurt his feelings. I lost contact with them for a few years, but found the mother again on Facebook. She now also has a young daughter. I am not doing so well financially right now. I want to send gifts to only my blood nephew, because I cannot afford gifts for his siblings. I feel bad and I do not want to hurt their feelings. How should I handle this?

Worried Aunt

DEAR AUNT: Your nephew’s siblings have assorted relatives that they don’t share biologically with one another — different sets of aunts, uncles and grandparents. It’s OK to put a little special focus onto your nephew, but make sure you also and always acknowledge his siblings with interest and affection.

Please don’t put too much focus on material gifts. Consistent and loving contact with you is much more important.

DEAR AMY: Oh yes, I agree with “Peeved,” and your response, that we all get to a point in our lives when it’s time to hire professional movers, rather than rely on friends. I’m happy to help in an emergency, but please don’t ask me to move your piano.

Slow Mover

DEAR SLOW: Exactly.

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