Son's meds aren't mom's concern

Amy answers questions about when to help out an adult child, kicking a child out, and habits....

Amy answers questions about when to help out an adult child, kicking a child out, and habits. (Fotolia)

Amy Dickinson, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:24 AM ET

DEAR AMY: My youngest son, "Steve," is 20 and had a few struggles in his teenage years.

These included some depression, a little alcohol, some marijuana and ADD. We raised our kids in a loving, solid and good home, but my relationship with Steve became strained as I tried to help him (or, in his opinion, "interfere") in his life.

He now works in another town, but was visiting the other day. His dad had received a new coat, which he had hung over the back of the chair. I lifted the coat to hang it up properly, and felt and heard something in the pocket. I reached inside and found a prescription bottle for my son.

I realized that it was my son's coat, not my husband's new coat. I looked up the pill description online and found it is medicine for an STD.

What scared me most is that it had been filled three weeks earlier and he hadn't taken the pills. With his ADD, he forgets things, loses things, etc. I want to encourage him to take the medicine, but he will know I looked in his coat and will think I was snooping.

The point, however, is that I am concerned for his health and future. Is this something I should ignore?

Can you give me the right words to say if and when I approach him with this touchy and awkward topic? -- Worried Mom

DEAR MOM: Sometimes silence -- not speaking -- is the answer.

Think it through. Are you going to follow your son through life, metaphorically checking his pockets and reminding him to get out of bed and go to work, helping him locate his car keys, prompting him to pay his bills, etc.? No doubt you've been doing this quite a bit to compensate for his ADD, but he is going to have to come up with strategies to deal with these things on his own.

He had his act together enough to move away, get a job and get tested for an STD, and now he needs to take his meds.

If you choose to say something to him, you should at the minimum admit that you were snooping (because you were) and that you are "interfering," (because you are). Then say, "I saw you had a medication bottle in your pocket. I worry about your health. Are you OK?" After that, accept any explanation he offers and move on.

DEAR AMY: You were right on with your "tough love" answer to "Mike," who is afraid to turn his 20-year-old daughter out of his home.

My husband and I had the same situation. Our son quit college after one semester. He had a part-time, minimum wage job. And while he would be out all hours of the night, his father and I would lie awake and worry.

Our home was an intense battleground, my stress level was through the roof, and we had younger children in the home witnessing the disrespectful way our son was treating us.

We finally decided he had to leave. It is the most heart-wrenching, awful-feeling decision we made as parents.

It took him several years, and several bad decisions, but our son is on his way to becoming a responsible adult. It is scary to have to force your child to grow up. You worry and feel riddled with guilt, but it is a step you need to make for children to face life and become responsible, functioning members of society. -- Been There and All is Well

DEAR BEEN THERE: I agree that this is gut wrenching. And there are no guarantees it will work. But the alternative is a parent like "Mike," who described himself as a prisoner in his own home.

DEAR AMY: I appreciated your answer to "Clean Jean," who wondered about disclosing her ex-husband's long ago bad behaviour to their grown children.

You suggested she ask herself, "What good would come of it?"

That question comes in handy in lots of situations. -- Faithful Reade

DEAR FAITHFUL: Thank you. It's a classic -- because it works.


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