DEAR ABBY: My parents are in their 80s. I have two brothers. "Pete," the oldest, is in his 50s and lives with them. "Dave" lives next door. My parents support them both financially. Neither one works or even tries to find a job. Both of them are addicted to meth, and one is hooked on prescription pills as well. My parents know it but enable them by paying their bills.
Pete and Dave steal and blame each other or any innocent family member who comes to visit. My parents are in total denial. There is major drug use going on every day, as well as potential violence. Pete and Dave threaten to shoot people all the time.
Part of me understands it's none of my business, and I have no desire to be around such dysfunction. The other part of me is furious and wants to put a stop to them using my parents. If I offer suggestions to my parents -- such as cutting off Pete and Dave -- they get mad at me!
I'm ready to sever all ties because there's no stopping this train wreck. I think my parents actually enjoy paying for my two 50-something brothers so they can stay high, never grow up and always be dependent. Any advice? -- NO NAME IN THE SOUTHWEST
DEAR NO NAME: I agree there is nothing you can do to "save" your parents -- or your brothers, for that matter. Their patterns are too well established. You can, however, save yourself.
If seeing them is too painful, you have my permission to distance yourself from what appears to be their unhealthy symbiotic situation.
DEAR ABBY: I live in a generally quiet neighborhood, but my next-door neighbors yell at each other and their children a lot. The shouting sounds like it is escalating.
This morning, the father yelled at his young son, telling him to name the letters of the alphabet he was pointing to. His "lesson" was filled with anger and profanity when the boy made mistakes. It was finally interrupted by the mother, shouting for him to stop. He then screamed, "Shut your mouth!" and she responded, "Don't you touch me!"
I don't know what to do. At what point should I call the police, or is this none of my business? -- WORRIED NEIGHBOR IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR WORRIED NEIGHBOR: The turmoil in that household isn't healthy for the children. The next time the father starts shouting, call the police to report a "domestic disturbance." The verbal abuse could very well escalate to physical violence (if it hasn't already).
DEAR ABBY: My brother-in-law, a doctor, had an affair a few years ago with his nurse. It destroyed his more than 20-year marriage to my former sister-in-law. He married the nurse.
I want nothing to do with him or his new wife now. He stayed with us for a while and lied about the affair. I have no respect for either of them. I usually ignore them at family gatherings because I don't like to associate with people who do not share my values. Abby, do you think I should accept his new wife? -- PRINCIPLED IN DAYTON
DEAR PRINCIPLED: Good manners dictate that when you see them you be civil to them. It doesn't have to extend beyond, "Hello. How are you?" and moving on to talk with other relatives -- and it doesn't indicate "acceptance."
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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- DEAR ABBY