We’ve given up on our son

My husband and I have been married for 21 years, and for most of them I have been a stay-at-home mom. We are honest, supportive, hardworking people. Despite all our efforts, my handsome, intelligent, athletic 18-year-old son is on the path to self-destruction.

Dear Annie: My husband and I have been married for 21 years, and for most of them I have been a stay-at-home mom. We are honest, supportive, hardworking people. Despite all our efforts, my handsome, intelligent, athletic 18-year-old son is on the path to self-destruction.

Last summer, “Tyler” was arrested for possession of marijuana, spent eight days in jail and lost his job. I was certain this would be his wakeup call, but I was wrong.

A week later, he was arrested again. We bailed him out so he could start college, hoping he would change. We paid his school expenses and things seemed to improve, but not for long.

Tyler’s drug and alcohol abuse is out of control. He’s lost his car, family, friends and financial support.

We refuse to help him anymore. We can’t trust him. I let him know that until he can admit he has a problem and be respectful, I will not help him.

For months, I have been overcome with grief and sadness. My husband says we did the best we could — the rest is up to Tyler.

My older son has never been in trouble and doesn’t understand his brother’s behaviour. I love my child very much. Please help. — Devastated in Santa Fe, N.M.

Dear Santa Fe:No one knows why one child in a home chooses a more self-destructive path than another, but Tyler is still young enough to turn things around. He may recognize that he has addiction problems, but he’s too stubborn and rebellious to admit this to you.

Dear Annie: I am a senior citizen, as is my older sister, Rose.

Rose and I recently had a falling out. I learned from my younger brother that Rose was fed up with dealing with me and my “unacceptable behaviour” all her life, including my political beliefs, jokes I’ve told, silly things I’ve done for fun and other goofiness that she considers offensive. She said she needed a timeout.

I was surprised to hear of this lifelong animosity and was deeply wounded and puzzled. Yesterday, she emailed to say the timeout was over and she is ready to resume our relationship. I have forgiven her, but I’m afraid to restart our connection. What are your thoughts? — Questioning in Indiana

Dear Indiana: Tell Rose to please tell you when you say or do something offensive instead of waiting until it bubbles over and creates an estrangement. We’re sure you can work it out.

Dear Annie: I can understand the plaint of “Lonely in Connecticut,” who misses sexual intimacy due to her husband’s illness. She asked whether it was OK to have a discreet affair.

During the last two years of my late husband’s life, we also lost that part of our relationship.

I want to advise “Lonely” to hug, cuddle and provide her husband every bit of closeness she can while he is alive. Later, the priorities of life can readjust themselves.

There are so many times I lie in our bed and wonder if I spent enough time letting him know how special he was to me. I still wish I could reach out and touch him. — From a Homosexual Man Missing His Husband in Hawaii

Dear Hawaii: Your letter is a reminder that true intimacy is more than sex.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.

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