Dear Annie: I love my mother, but not after 7 p.m., when she starts drinking. For 11 years, I have suffered through her alcoholic abuse and have been ravaged by the physical and emotional agony that come with it.
My family and I have done everything possible to tell her how much we care and want her to get help.
She always replies with a wonderful speech about how she will change and make sure we all stay together and happy. But after about a week, she reverts to her old ways.
My mother is a lovely person with a good heart, but she endured a lot of emotional pain in the past and likes to drown it out instead of dealing with it.
I recently married and am thankful to be away from the situation. I have just discovered that I am expecting my first child. You cannot imagine the sheer joy I feel, along with the complete horror of seeing my drunken mother wanting to be a part of my baby’s life.
I want Mom to be a loving, reliable grandmother, but so far, she has not been able to control herself. This has become a constant worry. I don’t want my child brought up around alcohol.
How do I allow Mom to be near the baby when she cannot control her drinking?
— Michigan Mom-to-Be
Dear Michigan: When Mom is drunk, she should not be around your child, and you should tell her so. Hopefully, access to the new grandchild will provide the incentive for her to finally get the help she needs.
If you believe she is depressed and is self-medicating with alcohol, encourage her to discuss this with her doctor. Tell her you will make the appointment and go with her. If she truly wants to sober up, she will do this.
In the meantime, please contact Al-Anon (al-anon.alateen.org) at 1-888- 4AL-ANON (1-888-425-2666), for family and friends of those with drinking problems.
Dear Annie: Our music teacher group has a question for you. We will try to make it short and sweet. Should parents have to pay for missed music lessons?
We have discussed this with fellow piano, band and vocal teachers who give private lessons, and everyone is having the same problem. Parents don’t want to pay for missed lessons, and we think they should because they have a reserved lesson time each week.
They don’t understand that we have set schedules and depend on the income to help with our bills.
What is your take on this?
— Losing Money
Dear Losing: There is nothing wrong with charging parents for missed lessons if they do not notify you sufficiently in advance.
Students are paying for your time, as well as your expertise. The amount you charge and how much notice you require are up to you. When you take on new students, inform them of this policy. Tell the parents of your current students that, starting next month, these guidelines will be in effect. Good luck.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Dirty Dishes Not Dirty Hands,” who was upset that a friend washed his hands in the kitchen sink after a round of golf.
Don’t wash your hands in the kitchen sink? Oh, please! I wash the carrots I pull out of the ground in the kitchen sink. I even wash my small dog in the kitchen sink. Does he think dirty dishes are germ free? If “Dishes” is concerned about a germ or two getting on his food after a hand washing, he can spray the sink with a disinfectant or wipe it down with chlorine bleach.
— Clean Enough
Dear Clean: You can do whatever makes you happy, but it is considered safer to avoid washing outdoor dirt in the same sink where you prepare food.