Dear Amy: There was a physical altercation between my 32-year-old son and 26-year-old daughter one evening, when both were very drunk.
They were in the room alone, so no one knows exactly what happened, except that my son ended up pushing my daughter to the floor and throttling her.
My daughter, who was freaked out and nearly hysterical, was brought to my house. I could easily see the marks around her neck.
She no longer feels safe around her brother. On the advice of her counselor, my daughter filed charges. After talking with my son, the police forwarded the charges to the prosecutor’s office.
Apparently, my son is insisting that my daughter bit him and he was protecting himself. My daughter doesn’t remember.
Throughout all of his ups and downs, I have always been on my son’s side, but now I feel I need to distance myself from him, especially because my daughter and her other brother refuse to be around him.
This would mean him forgoing attending Thanksgiving and Christmas, and probably cause a permanent rift with him, which makes my heart sick.
I haven’t spoken to my son since this happened two weeks ago.
What should I do?
— Sick at Heart Mom
Dear Sick at Heart: Your son is facing a credible accusation of a serious assault toward his sister.
You should attend to your daughter’s needs and assist her as she goes through the legal process. If her drinking is causing her to black out, you should encourage her to confront her alcohol use.
And yes, your son should face prosecution.
Naturally, you are very upset, angry and worried. But your son is accused of a very serious act of violence, and though your instinct is to keep your distance, you should not abandon him. In my view, his best chance at rehabilitation might be through a relationship with you.
You should contact him. Express your heartbreak and shock regarding his behavior. Do not argue about the events as he presents them (there’s no point), and urge him to honestly face his problems.
As with his sister, you should express concern over his drinking and urge him to get help. And you should tell him, “I’m horrified by what you’ve done. I’m very worried about you and the damage your behavior has done to your sister and the rest of the family. But I’m your mother, I love you, and that will never change.”
With the holidays around the corner, you are focused on this dramatic breach in your family, but your son and daughter should not spend time together.
One consequence of his behavior is that he must stay away. If you can visit with him privately on these holidays, you should make an effort to see him.
Dear Amy: I recently left my first job after 14 years, for a variety of reasons.
I am now exploring new avenues in different fields.
My problem is that my old job was at a prominent retailer that is currently very popular with consumers.
Every time people find out where I used to work, they ask questions.
Even my new coworkers who haven’t worked in the industry are curious about it.
I don’t want to keep having to focus on a life I am trying to put behind me, or have to explain myself to virtual strangers about my decision to leave.
Can you advise me on how to politely curb these conversations?
— New Job, New Me
Dear New Job: You should not necessarily discourage these conversations, as annoying as they may be. The way you respond will help you to connect with others.
You could work up a “set piece” of a few sentences, satisfy some curiosity, and pivot to your current interests.
Fourteen years is an impressive run for a first job. Your answer to why you left should be, “I was really ready for a change!”
If you don’t want to engage, you can say, “Oh, I really don’t want to talk about it.”
Most people should respond to that abruptness by moonwalking away.
Dear Amy: Like “Twin Mom,” I am also a mom to wonderful twin boys. When I got tired of listening to whining because one had more ketchup than the other, I responded by taking a bite of the food of whomever was complaining.
I only had to do it three times, the final time being ice cream, and they realized it wasn’t worth it anymore.
— Hungry Mommy
Dear Hungry: This is genius.
(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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