DEAR ABBY: My 47-year-old daughter is an alcoholic. A year ago, she took several benzodiazepine pills along with the booze and overdosed. My son-in-law found her in time and called 911. She spent five days in a psych hospital to detox, but never went to any follow-up rehab. I had been led to believe she was sober, but recently found out it was not true, and my son-in-law for some reason decided not to tell me.
The other issue is, since she OD'd, he keeps track of all her online spending and personal emails (he has all her passwords) because he claims it's the only way he can keep tabs on her to find out how much she's drinking and where she goes to do it. She doesn't know he's doing this, and I'm afraid if she finds out she will go ballistic. I don't know whether or not to tell her, because I don't want to do anything to make things even worse between them. Advice? — FEARFUL IN FLORIDA
DEAR FEARFUL: I see nothing to be gained by telling your daughter her husband is watching her closely. She is a woman with very serious problems, and it's a shame she didn't follow through with more rehab after what may have been a suicide attempt.
Your son-in-law cares about his wife. When he realized she had overdosed, he called to get help for her. That he's monitoring her closely is not a bad thing; it means he loves her and wants to avoid a repeat of what happened. Ask him what you can do to support your daughter, if anything, and take your cue from there.
DEAR ABBY: Ever since I got married a year ago, my family has been trying to "fix" me. My sister texts me asking if I'm OK and how she can love on me better because she thinks I have no life and don't socialize. My mom makes comments whenever I'm over about how I'm introverted, etc.
Abby, I just had a baby, and I work full time. I don't have time to go over to see them often, so they think I stay home all day long and do nothing. But it's so far from true. I have tried talking to them about it and saying I have friends, etc. But nothing works. What do I do? — FINE AS I AM
DEAR FINE: Because talking to your mother and your sister hasn't helped, remember that they mean well and are trying to be helpful. Then tune them out.
DEAR ABBY: My daughter's boyfriend recently came to us asking for our daughter's hand in marriage. We like him very much, and we were happy to give our blessings. What threw me was, after he got our permission, he asked if we had any family heirlooms (diamonds) he could use to have made into an engagement ring.
Call me old-fashioned, but I thought the groom-to-be usually got something like that handed down from his family, not the bride's. Please tell me if I'm wrong about this. — OLD-FASHIONED MOM
DEAR OLD-FASHIONED: You are not wrong. The groom (not the parents of the bride-to-be) is supposed to be responsible for the engagement ring. Because you like the young man, you should have conveyed that message as gently as possible.
DEAR ABBY: My wife and I recently hosted some longtime friends for a few days while they were passing through our area on vacation. We had a fine time reconnecting, although my wife commented after they left that they seemed to have "slowed down a bit" — to which I responded, "Yeah. Us, too, I guess."
We just received an email from that couple's adult daughter, with whom we're also friendly, asking about our perceptions of her parents' well-being. We are not comfortable responding to her very pointed questions about their eating habits, bedtimes, taking of medications, mental sharpness, etc. while they stayed with us. Is this kind of inquiry common today, or do these folks have "helicopter kids"? — ANYWHERE, USA
DEAR ANYWHERE: If it's common, I'm unaware of it. It's the first question of this kind that I have received. Clearly, the daughter has noticed something going on with her parents that has her worried. Because "the kids" are so concerned about their parents' welfare that they feel compelled to ask these kinds of questions, perhaps they should travel with them so they can supervise.
If you choose to answer that email, an appropriate response would be, "I think we have all slowed down a little, but if you want to know what your folks ate (etc.) while they were with us, you should ask them."
DEAR ABBY: Years ago, a gentleman wrote to you asking what he should get his aged parents who didn't need another "thing." You suggested he write them a letter telling them why he was thankful for them. He wrote you back later telling you he had taken your advice, how much it meant to his father and that, shortly afterward, his father died.
I immediately wrote each of my parents a letter listing the things I learned from them and what I cherished about them. It was the perfect, most meaningful thing I could have done for them. They have since passed on. I am so thankful that I was able to do that for them.
I have read your column for about 35 years. It is always respectful and full of common sense. Thank you. — GRATEFUL IN COEUR D'ALENE, IDAHO
DEAR GRATEFUL: You're welcome. I'm glad you picked up on the suggestion and that it made your parents happy. I can think of few people who would not welcome — and treasure — a love letter if it's sincere.
DEAR ABBY: I lost my hubby after 50 happy years, and yet I don't cry. What's wrong with me? — GRIEVING IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR GRIEVING: There is nothing wrong with you. If your husband was ill for a period of time before his death, you may have had more than enough time to grieve his loss as he was slipping away. If his passing was sudden, you may be in shock, which is why your tears won't come. Not everyone grieves in the same way, drowning in an ocean of tears, so please do not judge yourself harshly — or at all.