DEAR AMY: I am one of three sisters who live relatively stable and productive lives after some rough patches growing up. Our elderly parents have always had a blind spot for our brother, who is in and out of rehab for alcohol and drug abuse, legal problems, and financial crises of his own making. Now it appears that he has abandoned his kids, who live hundreds of miles away. He makes himself out to be the victim of unfair bosses, a bad employment market, an unstable wife, evil in-laws, etc. He is in his mid-50s and has been living with my parents on and off during the past two years. He helps them out at his convenience, but otherwise does whatever he wants. My parents are older and I’d like to have a relationship with them, but their world seems to revolve around their dependent son. We live in the same town and he is constantly with them. (He lost his license.) When I tried to express concern about their enabling him, my mom got angry and defensive. They claim they’re “staying out of it” by not discussing his ongoing addiction, financial troubles, family issues, etc., but as long as my brother is living a comfortable and enabled life with them, his problems are their problems. I think they’re doing more harm than good, and the whole thing really bothers me. My sisters and I are expected to smile and take the high road, while the “helpless” grown brother gets the benefit of the doubt. I don’t want to be around this, so I avoid them, but I feel guilty. Any suggestions?
DEAR DAUGHTER: You are obviously very upset with your brother and are judgmental about his addiction and financial and work problems, as well as his relationships with his children and your parents. You should share your frank and honest views of how his behavior is affecting you, directly with him.
Your parents are free to make their own choices, including the choice to possibly impede your brother’s progress by enabling him. However, if he is currently sober, this fairly stable and low-stress life with your parents might be helping him to stay sober. If he is currently drinking, then this lifestyle might be enabling his addiction.
You and your sisters should all read up on addiction and attend Al-anon meetings (Al-anon.org).
What you will learn is that while you have a right to your own anger and resentment, you, too, must surrender to others’ rights to make terrible choices. If you think your parents are being coerced, forced, or abused, you should act to protect them. Otherwise, accepting some simple realities may liberate you from your anger.
DEAR AMY: Our son is going to get married. What are typical expenses a groom’s parents should plan on covering? We have been saving up and are looking forward to the experience. I’m guessing that some of this depends on what we are asked to provide. The wedding will be local, which helps tremendously.
Parents of the Groom
DEAR PARENTS: Traditionally, the bride’s parents have been expected to cover the majority of the costs of the wedding and reception, with the groom’s parents hosting the “rehearsal” dinner, the night before the wedding.
However, tradition needn’t dictate the way your son and his future spouse handle their wedding. I’m of the firm view that the couple should be in charge of their own wedding, and that includes financing it. This means that the couple may use their own savings to pay for their wedding, or they may go to each family and ask them to help defray the cost.
You have been saving for this, and you might offer the couple a set amount, which they could use for their wedding, honeymoon, or to put toward a down payment on a house. If they would like for you to host the rehearsal dinner, you could deduct that cost from the total, and give them the rest.
DEAR AMY: “T” reported feeling betrayed when her workplace crush revealed he had a girlfriend. The woman had “Photoshopped” her work-mate into her future. Many people, especially women, do this. When things took a surprising turn, (since the fellow and she weren’t really “in the same picture’”, she jumped to the conclusion that she is destined to be alone. She was running a video in her head, and he could not read, nor see, the subtitles.
DEAR EXPERIENCED: It is also possible that “T’s” work mate deliberately led her on.