Ask Amy: New parents worry about alcoholic granddad

Dear Amy: My husband and I recently welcomed twins into our family.

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

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

His drinking has escalated from a few beers in the evenings to hard-liquor drinks starting in the mid-morning.

There have been a few incidents over the past year that have prompted his kids to ask if he drinks too much. These have resulted in excuses and his attempts to hide how much he drinks.

We did not anticipate how anxious we would be to have him in our house interacting with our babies. 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 hinder a relationship, but the drinking hasn’t stopped, and we’re worried about safety and setting a healthy example for our kids.

— Anxious Mom

Dear Anxious: Having two babies in your life will clarify all sorts of things for you. Yes, you should put their health and safety first and so you and your husband will have to do some basic risk-assessment and take it from there.

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

State your own intentions simply: “Dad, we can’t have you around the babies when you’ve been drinking.”

Dear Amy: My older brother and I are the last ones left of our immediate family. I’m gay and have had a tough time being close to him.

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

Last year his youngest son, my nephew “Rick,” had a wedding reception on the East Coast. (Both Rick and I live on the West Coast.)

I attended the wedding and had a fairly 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 bailed at the last minute. (My sister-in-law never made room for my mother or me when my mother was alive, but I thought it was because she didn’t like our mom.)

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

I’m so mad at my brother. I haven’t talked to him since then.

I’m the one that usually calls him on holidays, 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’s going to be hurt when (or if) I bring it up.

How do you think I should deal with this?

— Hurt in San Francisco

Dear Hurt: Your brother’s lack of connection over the course of your adulthood upsets and hurts you. And yet you are worried that if you unpeel even the outermost layer of this family onion, he will be hurt.

No. I suggest that the only feelings you should worry about right now are your own.

Given that your relationship seems to have deteriorated to almost nothing, now is the time to state your own truth, plainly and without reservation.

“We are the only two left in our family. I would like to be closer. I’ve tried many different ways to do this, but you haven’t been receptive. I’m wondering if you can try harder, in order for me to stop trying so hard. I’d be so sad to lose this connection with you.”

Dear Amy: You’re way out of line, advising the “Generous” retiree that they shouldn’t go out to eat if they’re not willing to continue paying for another’s bill, despite their personal circumstances.

Her ” hard working ” single mom friend has to find a better way to live within her means.

Your poor advice casts doubts on your wisdom, and sounds more emotional than rational.

— Disappointed

Dear Disappointed: “Generous” knew that her friend could not afford to pay to eat out, because it was this same friend to whom she was currently lending money.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

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