DEAR AMY: Our adult son has a drug problem.
Family and friends are aware of this because he has been in rehab and has had long periods of sobriety. He is a good person when he is not using drugs. But like all addicts, he will do what he needs to do to get drugs when he is using.
He has stolen from us, and we have responded by not allowing him into our home. We have not allowed him to live here for years, but when he is doing well, we allow him to visit and begin to trust him.
Recently, he stole from us again. We are coping with it, but I am wondering what to say to family and close friends who inquire about him.
I don't really want to tell truthful details, because I am embarrassed and I still have hope that someday he will be clean for good. I don't want people to remember this about him.
What could one say to be truthful but not share details?
Are we enabling?
— Distressed Mother
DEAR MOTHER: In my view, being a victim of a theft doesn't necessarily make you an enabler — though your attitude toward your son tells me that your hope for him may be clouding your judgment about his reality.
Your family is riding the roller coaster of addiction, recovery and relapse.
A natural consequence of this latest theft would be for you to not allow your son into your home until he has passed a milestone of sobriety (several months) — and even then you should "trust but verify" by locking away anything of value and watching him carefully.
Detachment means that you don't assume feelings or attitudes your son should be feeling and expressing. Your son's reputation is his responsibility — not yours. If he is a thieving drug addict at present, then that's his reality.
He may successfully recover from his addiction. At that time, it will be his job (not yours) to clean up his messes, make amends and build trust.
In terms of what to say to family members, you can say, "Bart has had a relapse and is using again. If he comes to you, please make sure you don't give him any money."
Seek support for yourself by attending Nar-Anon meetings (check Nar-Anon.org). You are not alone.
DEAR AMY: A close friend of mine is six months pregnant with a baby girl. While discussing the potential baby names together, I mentioned the name I have my heart set on if I have a daughter.
She now tells me that she is strongly considering this name for her daughter. I know I do not own the name or have rights to it, but I am upset with her. This name has significance to me, as it is my husband's beloved grandmother's name.
It also is not a common name by any means, and I am certain it is not a family name for her or her husband. This is the name my husband and I decided on when we first discussed having children (long before my friend became pregnant).
It feels like a betrayal to me, especially since I have been a very loyal friend to this person. I am upset at the idea of losing the name and my friend.
— Baby Blues
DEAR BLUES: You are not losing this name. You are potentially sharing this name. Your friend's choices should not affect your own future naming choice in the slightest.
If you insist on seeing this as a theft and a betrayal, then you have to also end the friendship. But your perspective is skewed, and you could set it right by discussing this with your friend.
DEAR AMY: "Present Tense" didn't want guests to bring gifts to her child's 5th birthday party. I agree with you that gift exchanges are important for young children.
A friend of mine handled this by asking all of her little guests to bring food, a toy, etc. for a dog — and they donated all of these gifts to their local shelter.
It was a lot of fun, and the kids enjoyed it, too.
— Faithful Reader
DEAR READER: I love it.
Send questions via email to email@example.com. Amy Dickinson's memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.