Life Advice



Ask Amy: Brother’s drinking disrupts tight family

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

I know it isn't my place to ask my parents to choose between us. I don't want him to spend his holidays alone, either. He literally has no one other than us, is prone to depression, and his health is failing because of his drinking.

I'm so conflicted, and so are my parents.

I love him but I just can't do it anymore for my own physical and mental health.

It is eating me alive thinking about the stress during what should otherwise be a very happy time.

What should I do?

– Holiday Headaches


Dear Headaches: If your baby is due around Christmas, it might be wisest for you not to bring a newborn into a crowded house for an extended stay. Newborns are extremely portable, but the early days are an ideal time for the parents to hunker down, love on their new child, and adjust to parenthood.

You don’t want to ask your parents to choose between their children, but you have drawn a hard line regarding your brother. This is for your own well-being, and it is vital that you take care of yourself.

Addiction tends to destabilize the entire family structure. This can lead to what feels like a power struggle, as family members sometimes try – and fail – to control the addict’s behavior.

You can expect that the long-standing dynamic in your family will continue. What you can do is keep your distance, while working on releasing your anger and replacing it with compassion.


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