We have out-of-state friends who have two daughters, ages 10 and 11. More than once I have seen the mother give her girls sips of her wine - even hard liquor - when she is drinking. We do not allow our children to do this. We have discussed drinking in moderation with them, but only when they are of legal age.
My problem is, this friend and her family will soon be coming here to visit. She has now informed me that she'll be bringing a bottle of wine for her girls to drink. When I asked her not to because I'm not comfortable with it and my kids aren't allowed to do so, she started arguing that mine don't have to. Then she said that she wouldn't bring a bottle for her girls, but would let them have some of hers. She argues that this is common in Europe.
Am I being unreasonable?
- Old-Fashioned in the U.S.A.
DEAR OLD-FASHIONED: Unless your friend and her family LIVE in Europe, please wake up to the fact that she is trying to rationalize her own alcohol problem. While some parents allow children an occasional sip of whatever they (the parents) are drinking, they do NOT bring along an extra bottle "for their children"!
This indicates to me that the girls are doing a lot more than "sipping." What you have described is a family in serious need of an intervention, because your friend's behavior is child endangerment. She's jeopardizing her children's health. My advice is to tell her you would prefer no alcohol in your house - period. I'm betting it will cause her to cancel her plans to visit.
DEAR ABBY: I have a close friend, "Dee," who is more than 50 pounds overweight. She wears the trendiest clothes, styles her hair and makeup to perfection, and has oodles of male friends she'd love to be more than friends with, but has never been in a serious relationship.
When we go out with her male friends, they shower me with compliments and attention. I'm friendly, but never flirt with them. It makes me uncomfortable that Dee - who I'm constantly trying to shift attention to by mentioning the "funny thing she did at work today," or a compliment that she received at work, etc. - is obviously unhappy.
I love spending time with her, but feel like if I'm there she'll get less attention and lessen her chances of finding a significant other. Dee has a wonderful personality and is one of the nicest people I know. I really want to see her happy.
I have even resorted to lying to her about men looking at her in a bar or fabricating compliments that I say I overheard a male friend say about her. It visually changes her mood for the better, but I feel awful for making it up. I'm becoming exhausted trying not to show interest in her friends, "dressing down" when we go out so as not to attract attention, and lying to her to make it all better. What can I do besides avoid her altogether?
- "Dee"-Voted Friend in D.C.:
DEAR "DEE"-VOTED FRIEND IN D.C.: The first thing you must do is stop lying to her. Every time you do, you raise her hopes that the person you have invented will show an interest, which of course can never happen.
The second is to have a loving and truthful discussion with her about how much you care about her and about her weight because it affects not only her social life, but it could also affect her health. Sometimes it takes a loving friend to direct our attention to something we would rather ignore, and it appears in this case, that person is you.