Dear Amy: I allowed my sister, her dog and her friend to stay at my house instead of being homeless and sleeping on the street. The problem is, they are both alcoholics and will not try to get help or try to get a job to pay some kind of rent.
I asked them both to make other living arrangements. They decided to sleep outside my house on the ground. This breaks my heart and makes me angry at the same time. What can I do to solve this issue without calling in the police?
-- Sad and Mad in California
Dear Sad and Mad: Loved ones of people in the throes of addiction draft on hope, but looking for a surefire solution to this will test the strength of that hope. If your sister was basically homeless when she landed with you, I wonder how realistic it was for you to expect some sort of turnaround.
There is no real solution here, but only a process of you deciding what you can and will tolerate. When the prospect of losing shelter provides no incentive to grasp at recovery, you know that things are about as bad as they can get.
If you want these people off of your property, you will have to ask them explicitly to leave and give them a certain deadline. If they won't leave, then you will have to call the police. There might be a shelter nearby where they could find beds (although the drinking and the dog might preclude this).
One alternative might be for you to get them a tent or a second-hand camper, to at least shield them from the weather. However, you should look into any possible liability regarding having these campers living on your property.
This is a very tough and sad situation for all of you. You are not in a position to police their drinking, and you don't seem to have enough leverage to force your sister into recovery. This does not mean that you should be forced to watch her heartbreaking downslide, however. How your sister chooses to live is up to her. You gave her an opportunity, and now she will have to scramble to find another.
I hope you will get yourself to a "friends and family" support group. Being around others who are walking this path will help.
Dear Amy, I just moved in with my boyfriend and I'm kind of starting to feel like maybe it was a bad idea. He is always at work, and I only get to see him for a couple of hours when he gets off work; but then he's exhausted.
Now he's trying to get a second job, and I'll never see him. I feel like he doesn't care if he sees me or not. I feel like I'm not important to him, and that he couldn't care less if he sees me. I've tried to tell him this but his answer is, "I gotta make money, bills need to be paid!" What should I do?
-- Lonely Girlfriend
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Dear Lonely Girlfriend: I have the perfect solution to both your loneliness and the financial needs in your household: You need to get a job.
You don't mention whether you work, but it sounds as if this relationship is more or less your full-time occupation. If you stepped up more, your partner might be able to pull back more.
Ultimately, living together might not be the answer for you. If it feels like a bad idea, then maybe it is.
Dear Amy: "Wondering" was asking how to hit up the in-laws to help fund their children's college educations. I wonder how Wondering will feel about assuming their own grandchildren's' tuition down the road?
I am a retired grandmother who has paid for my children's undergraduate tuition and living expenses beyond what was not covered by scholarships. I would never in a million years have asked my own parents to assume my financial responsibilities. Had they offered I would have gladly accepted, but asking is another category all together, and in my opinion, falls under greed.
Dear Janie: "Wondering" was interested in this financing because the in-laws supported many charities. I agree that asking for money seemed greedy, but I suggested that they could inquire about a low-interest loan, which could then be repaid to the in-laws' favorite charity.
Parents should teach their children self-reliance. Creative financing is one thing; asking for a handout (or a bail out) is another.
(You can contact Amy Dickinson via email: email@example.com. Readers may send postal mail to Amy Dickinson, c/o Tribune Content Agency, 16650 Westgrove Drive, Suite 175, Addison, Texas, 75001. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or "like" her on Facebook.)