Ask Amy

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 12:00am
Amy Dickinson

DEAR AMY: My husband and I have become friends with another couple through a "mommy" group. Our sons are best friends.

I'm very close with the mom, and my husband is friends with the dad.

The problem is that "Fred," the other dad, tends to "tune out" with alcohol and marijuana, and recently "Ethel" (his wife) found "magic" mushrooms in a drawer.

Ethel freaked out and called me for advice. I told my husband, and he said that Fred once offered him mushrooms.

Ethel thinks the mushrooms were a "one-off" because Fred told her his pot dealer didn't have change and gave him the mushrooms instead. He told her he hadn't done mushrooms since college, but we know that's untrue.

Fred is not a young man — he's in his 40s, owns his own business and should know better. Do I tell Ethel that Fred didn't leave mushrooms behind in college?

My husband asked me not to tell Ethel.

Am I obligated to let her know?

— Lucy in Chicago

DEAR LUCY: This couple's problem is larger than whether "Fred" has a recent or ongoing mushroom habit.

Your primary responsibility is to your child, and your focus should be on making sure your son isn't exposed to adults whose problems include transactions with a drug dealer who can't make change. If this father is doing drugs at home, he poses a danger to his family and others.

You can ask "Ethel" pointed questions. For instance, does she think it is a good idea for her child to be exposed to his dad's substance abuse? Your friend should do everything in her power to make her home a safe and sober environment.

In addition to other risks, Fred's drug habit is exposing his family to the risk of a journey through the courts.

There is also the issue of his other substance use, including his alcohol habit.

If Fred won't seek help for his problem, Ethel has some serious decisions to make on her son's behalf.

Talking with others who have abuse and addiction in their households will help her develop strategies for how to cope. You should suggest she check www.al-anon.alateen.org.


DEAR AMY: About a year and a half ago, our then-18-year-old daughter left home.

The day she moved out she stated that it was time to start a new life.

She gave no information about where she was going.

We believe she hooked up with a female classmate who moved to another state.

Recent digging has produced an address.

We have had very little contact with her since she left and none at all this year.

We mailed her a birthday card in March, and we send her e-mails a couple of times a month.

I'm wondering how far we should go to try to maintain a link with her.

She is 20 years old and certainly capable of living on her own. Yet she is still our daughter.

Without intruding in her life, it would be nice to know she is OK.

Any suggestions?

— Forever Parents

DEAR PARENTS: You should definitely keep in touch with your daughter.

I assume there is more to the story than you say here, but whatever happened between you, your ongoing effort to reach out to her could make a tremendous difference to her as she matures, changes and starts to put her life in some perspective.

You could try to keep track of your daughter through social networking sites such as Facebook or MySpace.

Even if you were blocked from communicating directly with her, you could at least see how she's doing.

Otherwise, if I were in your shoes, I would consider hiring a private detective to confirm her current address and to see if she is safe.


DEAR AMY:
My wife likes to bake treats to share with her co-workers at a public school. She is averse to wasting food and will bring the leftovers home for us to eat.

I say that food that has been out all day in a very public place has too high a risk for contamination and should be discarded.

What do you think?

— Wondering Spouse

DEAR WONDERING:
I agree with you.

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