Dear Annie: My 24-year-old nephew is an alcoholic and a drug addict. He is currently in his sixth rehab facility, which just happens to be in my hometown.
I am a loving, nurturing person and want to help. Since he's been here, I've visited and given him bus fare so he can get to his job. My husband and others say he is never going to get better until all of us who love him just completely ignore him. Everyone says he needs to hit rock bottom.
He has since been kicked out of rehab and spent the other night in the emergency room because he had no place to stay and was out of money. He is barely holding on to his job, but that is what is keeping him here. He is trying to get into another facility. What's a caring and confused auntie to do? — Bewildered on the Bayou
Dear Bewildered: Here's what you should not do: Do not give him money or open your home for him to stay with you. You can, however, help him get to his job, work with him to get into another rehab facility and encourage him to see the counselors on staff. It's good for him to know you love and care about him, but please watch out that you don't unintentionally enable his drug habit. For information on the best way to deal with your nephew, contact Nar-Anon Family Groups (nar-anon.org) at 22527 Crenshaw Blvd., Suite 200B, Torrance, CA 90505-3071 or Families Anonymous (familiesanonymous.org) at 1-800-736-9805.
Dear Annie: How can I handle holidays and special occasions with my partner's adult kids?
I've been with "Chuck" for several years. His relationship with his two children is not good. They resent that he didn't protect them from their controlling and verbally abusive mother, yet each of them has bonded to her like Super Glue. The kids both live close, but the daughter calls her father only when she needs money or a baby sitter. The son prefers to call when we are out so he can leave a message.
I encouraged Chuck to see a therapist with his daughter, and they had two sessions together, but she did not show up for the other appointments. I also have encouraged Chuck to write or call his son to tell him that he loves him and would like a closer relationship with him.
I learned early on that I must never invite the kids on a holiday, since they will be with their mother (even on Father's Day). But when they accept our invitations, half the time they don't show up. The other times, they arrive late and leave early. We've never been invited to their homes as a couple.
How should we handle this? — Sad in Maine
Dear Sad: We hope with forbearance. These kids do not seem to have dealt well with the divorce, and they are too self-absorbed and resentful to consider that their behavior is punitive and borderline rude. Your advice to Chuck was good, and we hope he will continue to let his children know he loves them. You can't go wrong treating them with affection and kindness, and we hope one of these days, they will grow up enough to appreciate it. If not, at least you will know you did your best for Chuck's sake.
Dear Readers: Tomorrow, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2009, is the 13th anniversary of the Worldwide Candle Lighting. At 7 p.m. local time, anyone who wishes can light a candle for one hour in remembrance of all the children who have died. Those who would like more information can contact the Compassionate Friends (compassionatefriends.org) at 1-877-969-0010.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611