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If family dysfunction painful, brother should keep distance

By The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

This article was published November 18, 2012 at 4:29 a.m.

— 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 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 fifty-something brothers so they can stay high, never grow up and always be dependent. Any advice?

— No Name

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

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 is written by Jeanne Phillips and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069

High Profile, Pages 43 on 11/18/2012

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