DEAR READERS: I'm marking my 10-year anniversary of writing the "Ask Amy" column by rerunning some of my favorite Q-and-A's from the early days of the column. I return next week.
DEAR AMY: My wife and I have a difference of opinion regarding our 23-year-old daughter. Perhaps you can give some thoughtful advice.
Our daughter was married nearly three years ago to a young man about whom we felt uncomfortable. However, we went ahead and paid for a very large wedding and celebration.
Within the first months after her marriage, our daughter started calling home saying she was being mistreated, that her husband was staying out late, that he was using drugs, etc.
To this day, even though we live 1,200 miles from our daughter, we still get the calls. My wife "bites" every time when she hears another story about a broken arm, emergency room visits, surgeries to repair violent injuries in domestic disputes and what not. Incidentally, none of these "incidents" has ever been verified.
Hardly a week goes by that we are not readying our house for the return of our daughter, and she never comes.
My wife says that our daughter is an abused wife and needs help getting out of her marriage. I say our daughter needs emotional help and should not be supported by my wife every time she cries wolf.
What say you?
— Perplexed in Wisconsin
DEAR PERPLEXED: Here's what I say: If my daughter called home with anything approximating the trouble your daughter reports, I would first call the police and ask them to immediately go to her house, and then I would be on a plane that night to bring her home.
What can you possibly be thinking? Rome is burning and you and your wife are bickering about the high cost of a fire extinguisher.
When you get a report that there is abuse and domestic violence, first you believe it, then you try to stop it.
Even if your daughter is somehow "crying wolf," the fact that she would do so means that she is suffering and needs help. You don't report that she has any sort of history of lying or manipulating you; she may be taking drugs or involved in some terrifying lifestyle.
Stop fighting with your wife about this and do something! (2005)
DEAR AMY: My husband and I have a major disagreement. Our son has moved back home for the third time. He has admitted that he is addicted to crack cocaine and says he wants to quit. Last year we entered him in a program, but he wasn't serious, so needless to say it didn't work out. He has had five jobs and three vehicles during his two years of using drugs.
My husband says to kick him to the curb and be done with him (he is 20). I say, as parents we can't give up yet.
We have been out thousands of dollars and a lot of tears during this time. Our rule now is that anything he "borrows" must be paid back. I think our son should repay us on a regular schedule like other creditors, and my husband says if he doesn't pay up, we should cut ties with him. I am almost ready to agree.
I need an impartial view.
— Not Ready to Give up in Georgia
DEAR GEORGIA: You are talking about money as the deal breaker, when I think you should be talking about rehab as the deal breaker. (Why on Earth, for instance, would you let him "borrow" money from you when you know where it is going?)
In my view, your son must be in rehab. Recidivism is extremely common when dealing with drug addiction, and I do feel you should give this another try.
Do not give your son money, and make his attendance at rehab and regular 12-step meetings compulsory to see if he can succeed this time. For information and treatment referral, the government runs a helpful website at samhsa.gov. (Or call 800-662-HELP.)
Working with drug counselors and other parents will help you determine when "enough is enough." (2004)
Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Amy Dickinson's memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.