Life Advice



Ask Amy: Grandson in distress needs immediate help

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: Our middle school-age grandson has struggled with behavioral issues for most of his life. He now has been diagnosed with serious mental illness.

The family is reeling. He is unsafe to both himself and others. Few options are available for a person this young, and the expense for treatment is far out of reach for the family.

Other children in the family are being affected.

As grandparents, we’ve been asked to help with the financial part of a very costly potential residential treatment that we aren’t comfortable with, not only because of the cost, but also because it wouldn’t address the dynamics of the family.

The boy’s father — our son — is angry that we aren’t on board with paying for this treatment.

We don’t believe that a child with his degree of illness can be sent away to be “fixed.” We see this as a long-term process that our grandson, his parents, siblings, and extended family will need ongoing help with.


What can we do?

– Feeling Helpless

Dear Feeling Helpless: Early intervention is important, and I agree that these parents should commit to a family-centered approach.

However, your reasoning might be backward.


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