Dear Amy: I realize I’m about to complain about a first world problem, but I’m a dad and always want what’s best for my boys.
My wife and I have two awesome sons in their early 20s who live with us.
Both have college degrees, are gainfully employed, and their moral compass points in the right direction. We are proud of them, we told them this, and they know they are loved.
However, their personal hygiene is poor, as is their diet, and they are not physically active, which has led to their weight gain.
Unless something changes, we’re worried it will only get worse.
Our hope was that we were becoming a role model by exercising regularly and trying to eat well.
How can we encourage them to make healthy lifestyle choices without crossing our limits or saying anything that hurts their self-esteem or makes them feel embarrassed and insecure?
I am talking about cleanliness here. I’m guessing, but if your sons are lying around the house in their mess, playing video games and scarfing down pizza (when they’re not at work), you should have some pretty clear expectations.
If they want to be with you, they should bathe every day, keep the common room clean, help with household chores, etc.
I will not discuss his weight with him. His weight is his business.
Dear Amy: I am a recovering alcoholic, currently celebrating seven years of sobriety.
A dear friend of more than 30 years, “Brett,” an alcoholic woman, is in a relationship with “Emily.”
Brett saves Emily from drunk driving accidents before the police arrive. He has picked her up from work as she is drunk at lunchtime. The list goes on and on.
Emily lives with her aging mother. Emily’s mom asked me to speak with her, and I did.
Everyone agrees that Emily needs help, but no one will act. Emily can’t make any proper decisions for herself.
Over the weekend, Brett and Mama take turns seeing Emily. During the week, they expect good.
Brett and Maa are not alcoholics, so they cannot understand the negative power of alcohol. However, it cannot be denied that any “saving” of this woman will not help. He needs professional help!
These two men fall in love with Emily, but the effects of her alcoholism have reached a climax.
Should I leave it to Brett to deal with it? Should I say, “Call me when he’s in detox/rehab?”
I would appreciate your advice.
Dear Seven Years: You say that these supporters cannot understand the negative power of alcohol. And yet they understand the power because the task of keeping Emily alive is drawing the attention of two men. That’s power!
Your question perfectly reflects a point I often try to make: Addiction will absorb everyone in their path to varying degrees until the addict receives treatment. Case in point: Your relationship with Emily, Emily’s mother, Brett, and now all of them have been swallowed up by her illness.
I suggest you tell them this: “Emily has a disease. This is called addiction use disorder. He needs treatment. If he had cancer or diabetes, wouldn’t you encourage him to seek treatment?”
He doesn’t have the strength to save Emily. Enabling at this level is really “playing the role of God”. Imagine if Emily had landed in court-mandated rehab as a result of one of her drunk car accidents? Maybe she is celebrating her sobriety by now.
My favorite phrase to describe this dynamic is that people who repeatedly save drug addicts from the consequences of their illness actually “love them to death.”
You are an alcoholic in recovery. You can take your friend to the Al-Anon meeting; You can offer him some literature about co-dependency. In addition, you should not engage further, of course, if your own sobriety is at risk. Because then you will be another victim of this person’s illness.
Dear Amy: Thanks for your kind response to “Wondering” who labeled her ex-husband and son “the bad guys” and then wondered why her daughter would have any contact with them.
I appreciate that you pointed out that parental alienation goes both ways.
child of divorce
Dear child: Some people do what they condemn.
You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow him on Twitter @askingamy or on Facebook.