DEAR AMY: My stepdaughter is 24. She is the mother of a toddler. She and her husband have struggled with meth addiction and she is currently clean and away from him (for the past two months). My husband and I have taken her in several times to try to get her clean but she always turns back to her husband and drugs. Currently she and her son are living with her mother several states away and are planning a visit soon, which I am not looking forward to. She has stolen my wedding ring and prescription drugs when we have trusted and tried to help her in the past. My husband is more of an enabler than I am and chooses to forgive and forget but I am very wary, especially when we have two teenage daughters at home. I believe her main focus for the visit is to see her husband, who moved back here to stay with friends. She has been in recovery several times before but it doesn't last. Should I give her a second (more like 10th) chance for the sake of our grandchild?
DEAR WORRIED: Each time you and your husband "help" his addicted daughter, you have the same experience.
On the one hand, I think it is a good idea to have her and her son visit -- mainly to give him a safe, loving and fun experience with you and your family (especially if the alternative is her taking the child to stay with his meth-addicted father and his friends).
On the other hand, you should prepare for your stepdaughter to relapse (this seems inevitable, given her history and her choice to spend time with her husband). You should see what changes your household can make to try to ensure a different outcome than all of the previous times.
Do NOT trust her -- with anything. Remove ALL medications, alcohol, family valuables and anything else that might be a trigger or temptation for your stepdaughter. Coach your children not to "lend" or give her any money or jewelry. Find an addiction counselor and/or recovery program in your area that she can attend while she is with you.
You and your husband should have a plan in place for what you will do if/when she relapses while she is staying with you.
Your family needs professional help in order to manage this extreme challenge -- and I hope you will get it.
DEAR AMY: My sister's husband is a raging narcissist. He has only worked one year out of the 23 years they've been married. After moving close to them and seeing how dysfunctional and codependent they are, I confronted her with my observations. Naturally, she was furious and stopped talking to me. Is there any way to tell a sibling her spouse is mentally ill? And that their marriage is an unhealthy one of total codependency? I am so mad at him for using her for all of these years that I never want to see him again. Advice?
DEAR SISTER: So far, your own choices have resulted in complete alienation from the person you claim you are trying to help. So -- good job with that.
If you were a mental health professional, you might have some standing to "diagnose" your brother-in-law and pass judgment on your sister. But if you were a mental health professional you would know better than to charge into someone else's marriage, declaring it -- and the people in it -- to be sick.
You should ask your sister to forgive you for judging and interfering with her marriage, and then you should do what you can to repair the relationship with her. Having a healthy and supportive relationship with you would be the best thing for her. I hope you can manage it.
DEAR AMY: "Car Poor" described the discomfort of having a friend who is a terrible driver and yet periodically wants to borrow the couple's car. Most insurance plans will not cover drivers not listed on the plan. If anything happened in the borrowed car, it could be disastrous.
DEAR WORRIED: Many readers pointed this out. Thank you all.