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AMY DICKINSON Send questions to askamy@ amydickinson.com or to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.
The Gazette, Colorado Springs
Dear Amy: I have recently found out via my younger sister that our father has been diagnosed with pancreatitis. This is the first time I’ve heard this, and am hurt that he hasn’t said anything to me. My father has always had a problem with alcohol. Last Christmas Day, my fiancé and I had a sit-down with him — an intervention, if you will. I expressed concern that this alcohol problem would lead to illness, and warned him that if he didn’t stop drinking, it would eventually lead to his death. He brushed it off as if he knew better. My first son was born March 2022, my second in January 2023. I want my dad to be a part of their lives, as he is their only living grandfather. We live out of state, and for months he has been “planning to visit.” I feel as if we are always the ones going to visit him, which is difficult right now. My fiance and I are in the midst of starting a business together. Plus — I just found out that we’re having another baby! I haven’t told my dad about the new baby yet, but he knows that things are tight for us. Yet he still insists that we make time to visit him and his new girlfriend. I understand if he feels scared, I’m writing to you because I’M scared. How do I go about bringing up the diagnosis? — Another Amy Dear Amy: First, take a breath. Hug your children. Anchor yourself to your own life. You are upset, scared, and worried. You are also exhibiting the classic control issues consigned to you as the sensitive, caring and competent child of an alcoholic. Here’s how you ask your father about his health: “Dad, my sister just told me about your diagnosis. How are you feeling? What is the treatment going to be like?” Listen. Ask questions. Express support. What you don’t need to do is to lecture him about his drinking. He is living his life, making (unhealthy) choices, and now he is facing the consequences of his choices. Attending a “friends and family” support group would be very helpful for you.