DEAR AMY: My boyfriend has been living with my children and me for seven months. My kids are 5 and 8. I was looking for a pen and saw two prescription bottles in the drawer of his nightstand. As a parent, I am concerned about all medications kept in my home. I was curious because if there’s a slight chance my kids could get into this medication, I need to know what it is. One is a well-known drug that is used to treat bipolar disorder and severe depression. He did tell me when we first started dating that he used to take a pill every now and then for insomnia (online I found out that the particular drug has been used off-label for it). The bottle was full and expired a year ago. The other medication I found is also used off-label to treat severe depression. I looked up the doctor listed on the bottle and sure enough, it was a psychiatrist — and the medication expired two years ago (the bottle was almost full). He is a very private man. I knew early on that he has had issues with alcohol. He has only very recently acknowledged that he is a (sober) alcoholic. His health is his business, but I’ve got kids. If he’s got a mental illness, I feel I’ve got the right to know, especially if he’s got a drawer full of mood stabilizers where my kids could potentially reach them. Do I not tell him I invaded his privacy? Or, do I go into parent mode and say, “Hey, one, keep your stuff up high and two, if you’ve got health issues, as a mom, I have the right to know?
DEAR LW: You seem to be experiencing something of a crisis over two prescriptions that have not been used and are long-expired. So before you go bonkers over this, it would be best if you didn’t describe it as “a drawer full of mood stabilizers.”
Your boyfriend seems to have been honest, though circumspect. Certainly, his sobriety could have a profound positive impact on his mental health — thus the unused medications. And please — the fact that he saw a psychiatrist shows responsible adult behavior on his part.
Tell your boyfriend that you stumbled across two prescription bottles, and ask him if he would like to keep them high up in the medicine cabinet (or better yet, dispose of them responsibly, because they are expired).
Ask, “Is there anything about your health that I should know about?” and then leave it alone.
DEAR AMY: I have a longtime friend, “Rebecca.” Every summer she comes back home to visit friends and family and stays at my house. This recent visit was for six days. She lounged around, ate meals, and barely lifted a finger. She starts drinking wine at around 2 p.m. each day and drinks until bedtime. On the last day, she presented me with a list of complaints about what didn’t suit her during her free bed and breakfast, lunch, and dinner stay. She was picky about the food, could hear my son and friends at night, and had no TV in her room. She told me we needed to be more considerate of our houseguest. I told her I won’t expect her to want to stay here again next year, being that conditions were so horrible. Please advise.
DEAR USED: You’ve gone part-way in putting “Rebecca” on notice. However, you’ve done so from a defensive posture.
What you should do now is to say — not that she won’t want to stay with you, but that you don’t want her to stay with you: “Your stays at our house have started to have a negative effect on our friendship. You’ll need to find somewhere else to stay during your visits home.”
Send her a link to a rental site, such as Airbnb.com or Homeaway.com, and let her make her own arrangements.
DEAR AMY: I love your column for your common-sense advice. You also make me laugh out loud. Regarding the “Tattoo Hater,” who wrote about her distaste for tattoos, I would just like to add one common-sense reason not to get tattoos. The skin is the largest organ of the body. It’s our first line of defense. Tattoos can cover up incipient malignant skin lesions, such as a melanoma. You wouldn’t put ink on your heart. Why would you put it on your first line of defense?
DEAR NO-BRAINER: Because it looks awesome?