DEAR AMY: Our daughter, who lives with us with her two beautiful children (ages 6 and 2), is struggling with how to deal with her common-law husband.
For years, “Jimmy” has been an alcoholic. They are now separated due to his excessive drinking. He has moved out, been arrested twice in three weeks for DUI, attacked medical personnel in the detox center and was dragged away from our home by police for attempting to assault me and take away his kids while in a drunken stupor. He also attempted suicide twice.
Lately he has been living with the last two friends he hasn’t completely alienated. But one friend kicked him out and the other had to call the cops on him.
Now, whenever he calls, he tells our daughter that his drinking is all her fault. He calls her horrible names and basically blames her for all his failings.
Our daughter had been extremely supportive of him, but it’s over now. She is filing for full custody of the kids, but it breaks our hearts when our granddaughter wants to see daddy and we have to make excuses to her.
We are all trying to figure out why a man would throw everything he has away just so he can stay drunk all the time, then blame everyone else for his problems. We know he’s addicted to alcohol, but during the few times he’s sober you would think he would see how he has messed up everything in his life.
Besides going to Al-Anon meetings, do you have any suggestions? — Baffled in Denver
DEAR BAFFLED: If your daughter’s partner is at this dangerous level of his addiction, I believe that your family will need professional support, in addition to Al-Anon.
You should detach from the concept that this man is making rational choices. He is beyond choices at this point, and your focus should not be on blaming him but in staying safe. You don’t have to lie to your granddaughter. You can tell her that her daddy has alcoholism and that you all hope he can get better. She should be encouraged to write to him and may be able to see him in a professionally supervised setting if he is sober (the court can help to set this up).
Your daughter needs professional support and coaching to minimize contact. Therapy with an addiction specialist will help her and your granddaughter learn how to cope with the fallout of this terrible addiction.
DEAR AMY: My friend “Camille” has four children. Three of the kids are highly accomplished, and one, “George,” has severe disabilities.
Camille has good support from her family who share in George’s care, but there are times when she will break down in tears from the stress of caring for him. I like to ask how the kids are doing, and I think she enjoys talking about them. But I only ask about the three kids who are doing well because I’m not sure if asking about George will cause her more anguish.
She loves him very much, and I know he has some hobbies that she can talk about, but I don’t know if it’s one of those days when she feels overwhelmed and would rather not talk about him. But I’m concerned that by not asking about George, I appear to think he is somehow lesser than the other children. What’s the best approach? — Concerned Friend
DEAR CONCERNED: The best approach is to ask about all of the children. If you feel it is continuously awkward, simply ask her, “Camille, is it OK for me to ask about George? If you’d rather not discuss him, I completely understand, but I want you to know I care about all of you.”
DEAR AMY: Responding to “Cindy’s” question to you, verbal wedding invitations with verbal replies are not set in stone. Cindy should go to the wedding of her close friend of 28 years.
If this were a family member, family trumps friend and close friend trumps casual acquaintance. You blew it. — Sharon
DEAR SHARON: I agree that until there is more than a verbal invite, these RSVPs are not binding, as I told “Cindy.”