Dear Amy: I’m 88 years old. I live alone and am independent.
Can family members restrict an 88-year-old widowed mother’s wine consumption (mainly to sleep), just because a doctor says it might cause a liver problem some day?
I have never had a car accident.
I prefer not to drive but I do drive a little, to pick up groceries.
Should I see a lawyer? — Upset
Dear Upset: You have the legal right to harm yourself with alcohol use, although dying of liver disease is exceptionally painful.
You don’t say how your family members know how much wine you consume, or how they might be able to actively or effectively restrict the amount of wine you drink each day. Maybe they help take out your recycling and notice the number of empties, or call or visit you at night and notice that you are impaired. Perhaps you are asking them to pick up wine for you. They have the right to refuse to do this.
My take is that — unless your family members are exceptionally controlling — your drinking has caused problems for them. I’m going to assume that they are not overly controlling, because you live alone and still drive. (If they were overly controlling, they would try to control many other aspects of your life, other than just your drinking.)
I assume that they are worried about your health and safety.
In addition to possible liver damage, alcohol use actually disrupts a person’s sleep patterns. It is a depressant. Alcohol could interact with medication you are taking. Alcohol use also inhibits your balance and significantly increases your risk of falling.
Generally, when people get defensive about their drinking, it is because they are pushing back against the possibility of admitting to having a problem.
If your kids asked me, I’d suggest that they attend Al-anon meetings (al-anon.org) as a way to manage their stress over your drinking. Perhaps you could pass this suggestion along to them.
Dear Amy: My daughter is 30 years old, lives about seven hours from us and works full time. Her stepfather and I visit her at least once a year, and she also visits us on holidays and special days.
When we visit we stay in an Airbnb. While we are there, we take her out for all of our meals. She calls me several times a week, and I feel like our relationship is close.
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Months ago, she indicated she was going to make her favorite meal for us. I told her we were quite excited. Then she said she wanted me to pay for the groceries.
This felt like a slap in the face.
I am wondering what I did wrong that she is behaving like she is still a college student?
Her father and I paid for her undergraduate degree and subsidized her while she earned her graduate degree.
I also recently gave her a large sum of money to pay off most of her graduate degree debt.
I was speechless when she told me she wanted us to purchase groceries for this meal, but I told her, “Well, we can just go out to eat.”
After we got off the phone, she texted me about how excited she is for our visit.
Should I tell her I’m hurt by this selfish behavior, or just let it go? — Puzzled Mom
Dear Mom: Why does your daughter get to say exactly what she wants, but you don’t get to respond honestly? Are you so afraid of rejection that you don’t dare draw a very reasonable line?
Ask her, “Are you hurting financially? Honestly, at this stage of your life, I am bewildered, and I believe you should be embarrassed, by asking us to pay for groceries for one meal during our visit. What is up with that?”
Yes, I do believe you have enabled this behavior. And now you will have to find a way to re-balance your relationship, so that she can start to behave like a grown-up.
Dear Amy: “Crystalized” made a joke when a guest tipped over her good crystal: “You broke it, you buy it! Just kidding.” Then her guests went crazy!
Amy, she was joking. I am so sick of people who can’t take a joke!
I thought it was hilarious. — Funny
Dear Funny: “Crystalized’s” guests took her comment as a jumping-off point for a lively discussion regarding who should pay for breakage. This seemed to offend “Crystalized,” who stated that she was “horrified by their comments.” She seemed the overly sensitive one, to me.
You can contact Amy Dickinson via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Readers may send postal mail to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or “like” her on Facebook.