Dear Amy: This summer I attended a large family celebratory gathering.
There were several teenage boys in attendance, along with younger girls.
During this gathering I witnessed these young men (under legal age) openly smoking marijuana in front of the parents and guests — both young and old.
Their parents were the hosts of the party.
That’s not all. There was a bar set up for the adults.
A person at the party witnessed a young girl, not yet a teen, drinking alcohol. When it was brought to the attention of the parents, they did not object!
These young brains are at risk, yet I feel hopeless to do anything about it in fear of being ostracized by the very people I love.
I don’t want anyone to get it trouble with the law, but should I say something?
— What To Do?
Dear What to Do?: You witnessed unhealthy and potentially dangerous behavior on the part of underage people at a private event (presumably on private property) and with their parents’ knowledge.
Laws vary from state to state regarding the illegality of underage people consuming alcohol and pot while on private property and with their parents’ permission. A number of states do allow this, and while you might not agree with this legislation or certainly the questionable parenting being demonstrated — you are not obliged to intervene.
(Parents may NOT allow underage people who are other people’s children consume these substances, and may be liable for any injuries or damages that result from underage consumption while on their property.)
What do you need to do? Nothing. You’re off the hook.
The one exception to non-intervention (in my opinion) is the pre-teen girl consuming alcohol when her parents were not physically present and witnessing it.
I think it is appropriate for any adult who witnesses a pre-teen child consuming alcohol to intervene directly with the child (“Is that alcohol in your cup? Nope. That’s not for you.”) and to let her parents know afterward. (Also speak with the bartender, if there is one.)
If parents have a problem with your intervention in that regard — too bad.
Dear Amy: My partner and her two sisters have hijacked Thanksgiving ever since their mother died 10 years ago.
Every year the expectation is that the sisters, their partners, and their (now adult) children gather together on Thanksgiving.
When their Mom was still alive, everyone gathered at her home, but every year since has been a battle that reliably stirs up drama, i.e., where to meet (often a different location across the U.S.) or how to find a house that fits all 11 people (because God forbid we split up under different roofs).
But the real issue is that the only people that make these decisions are the three sisters in their private meetings.
Significant others have no input at all. And now that the (privileged and spoiled) children are adults, they are given preference for deciding where we travel, which is often inconvenient for my partner and me, since we live on the other side of the country from the rest.
Again — the three spouses/partners have NO say.
When I bring this up to my partner (middle sister) EVERY year, she dismisses it and says the other partners don’t care — so why do I?
But I suspect they do care.
Speaking for myself, I have not enjoyed myself at all in 10 years.
The family dynamics are painful.
Can I please just excuse myself from the table?
— Fed Up
Dear Fed Up: Push yourself slowly and quietly away from this noisy table, because — you’re excused.
Perhaps you have family members from your birth-clan that you would like to spend time with. Or — like many — you might choose to host or join a “Friendsgiving” feast.
Or you’d be perfectly happy spending a couple of days quietly at home.
You have the right to spend this holiday the way you want to. Furthermore, because spouses have been marginalized in this regard, “Hannah and her sisters” might be happy to spend some time bickering amongst themselves.
Dear Amy: I was appalled at your advice to “Older Woman,” who was fantasizing about her much-younger home contractor.
You may think it’s cool to encourage this woman to have “hot sex,” but I am the wife of a contractor, and you would not believe the outrageous behavior he has witnessed from female clients seeking sex!
Dear Appalled: My answer was predicated on all parties being both willing and available. (My husband is a contractor, too!)
(You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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