Dear Annie: We have three adult children in their 30s. The oldest two are married and have good lives. The youngest, “Mary,” is a nurse and lives with her fiance, “Bud,” in a town not far away. Mary and Bud like to drink. Bud hasn’t had a full-time job in nearly five years. He dresses poorly, and I don’t think his hygiene is particularly good. He doesn’t speak to his father because Dad keeps telling Bud to get a job. Bud’s parents and siblings do not behave like this, and I know it hurts them as much as it hurts us to see Mary and Bud wasting their lives.
As long as the two of them live together, we believe they will keep drinking themselves into a state of deterioration. We keep hoping Mary will wake up and leave him. She is smart and good-looking. But time is slipping by. We are sick about the situation and can’t sleep. Any ideas?
— Mom Out West
Dear Mom: There’s not much you can do about a grown child who descends into drug or alcohol abuse, especially when she is attached to a partner who is equally addicted. Even if Mary would prefer to stop drinking, she may feel obligated to continue or tolerate Bud’s drinking because she mistakenly believes this is being “supportive.” It is not. It is enabling.
Let Mary know you love her and that she can come to you if she decides she wants help. We doubt she is ready to admit this. She still has a job and undoubtedly believes that the two of them are doing OK. Addicts rarely recognize a downward spiral until they hit bottom. In the meantime, please contact Al-Anon (al-anon.alateen.org) for support and information.
Dear Annie: I am a kid who likes to play online games with my friends. Sadly, the computer I play on is old, has more than five major problems with it and can barely support the game.
I have saved up my money and am trying to buy a computer for gaming as well as for school. However, when I bring up the subject to my parents, they are reluctant to talk about it. I have saved for a long time and do not want it to go for nothing.
— Need Help in Nebraska
Dear Nebraska: Generally, we believe kids who save their own money should be permitted to use it as they wish (within reason). However, your parents may believe you will spend too much time playing on your new computer and prefer that you wait. Ask your parents directly whether this is the problem and what you can do to assure them it won’t happen. If they still refuse to discuss it, enlist the help of a trusted adult — perhaps a grandparent, aunt or uncle, neighbor or friend — and see whether you can find out what their objections are.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Worried Family Members,” whose son’s estranged wife has reported him to child protective services repeatedly, and he is always cleared of the charges. She has convinced people that he is abusive, even though he has never done anything to merit the charge. He has become so paranoid that he’s afraid to leave his house.
Please let this man out! He needs a GPS tracking device so he can have recorded proof that he wasn’t close to his ex-wife. This device would be much cheaper than a lawyer. If he needs a third party to witness his child visitations, that person should record those visits with a camcorder on a tripod.
I think legal action against the ex is well overdue. Her behavior connotes a person with mental illness and one who should not have custody of children.
— Witness to a Deranged Relationship
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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