Navigating the Family Dynamics Between Addiction and Disconnection | Ask Amy

Dear Amy:

My husband and I recently welcomed twin boys into our family.

His parents were able to visit us a few weeks ago.

It was evident that his father, who struggled with various self-medication strategies for chronic pain, continued down the road of alcoholism.

His drinking went from a few beers in the evening to hard liquor starting mid-morning.

There have been a few incidents over the past year that have prompted his children to ask him if he drinks too much. These have led to apologies and his attempts to hide how much he drinks.

We hadn’t anticipated how eager we’d be to have him in our home interacting with our children. Nothing bad has happened, but we feel the need to do something, especially since they are interested in spending more time with us. What is an appropriate way to proceed?

We don’t want to get in the way of a relationship, but the drinking didn’t stop and we were concerned about safety and setting a good example for our children.

Anxious mom

Dear Anxious:

Having two children in your life will clarify all sorts of things for you. Yes, you should put their health and safety first and then you and your husband will need to do a basic risk assessment and go from there.

Your husband (and his siblings) should approach their fathers in drinking without attaching shame and harsh judgment. It’s a fact of his life, it’s real, it’s happening and the consequences attached should be specific and proportionate.

Simply state your intentions: Dad, we can’t have you around the kids when you’ve been drinking.

Dear Amy:

My older brother and I are the last remaining of our immediate family. I’m gay and had a hard time being around him.

My brother and his wife are conservatives and never ask me about my personal life. I feel like I’m the one doing the heavy lifting to keep in touch now that our mom is gone.

Last year her youngest son, my nephew Rick, had a wedding reception on the east coast. (Rick and I both live on the West Coast.)

I attended the wedding and had quite a good time.

They had a second reception in a southern state the following fall.

I traveled there for the weekend to show support.

We were supposed to have dinner the night I arrived but then they backed out last minute. (My sister-in-law never made room for my mother or me when my mother was alive, but I figured it was because she didn’t like our mother.)

Every attempt I made to get together with them was canceled to accommodate his family and I was told they didn’t have time.

I am so mad at my brother. I haven’t spoken to him since.

I’m the one who usually calls him on holidays and birthdays and anniversaries.

I don’t want to hold a grudge, but I don’t know how to talk to him about this.

I know he will be hurt when (or if) I lift him.

How do you think I should approach this?

Wounded in San Francisco

#Navigating #Family #Dynamics #Addiction #Disconnection #Amy
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