DR. WALLACE: I’ve met a great guy who truly loves me, but he has a drinking problem that’s pretty concerning. I’m now 20 and I have a daughter who is 2 and will turn 3 in March. He blacks out about twice a month and he’s rarely sober for more than two days in a row.
On the other hand, in many ways he seems like the answer to my dreams. The father of my child took off to another state the moment he found out I was pregnant and told him I would have the baby. Back then I was only 17 years old, and the father of my child was 22. This new guy is 24, so he’s four years older than I am but he does have a good job and he treats me very well. He also tells me he will adopt my daughter. However, his drinking has caused him to be randomly absent from his work and I’m afraid he’ll lose his job if he doesn’t get his act together soon.
He wants us to get married in late May and to move in together a few weeks before the ceremony. Do you think if I marry him and we move in together, I can help him make the necessary changes he obviously needs to make? — Want to Help Him Stabilize, via email
WANT TO HELP HIM STABILIZE: I think for your sake and especially your daughter’s sake that you should concentrate on helping him immediately rather than planning to marry him in May and seeing if you can help him after you’ve married him.
Since you describe his problem as quite concerning, you can take action to help him “stabilize” right away: Encourage him to seek professional treatment for his affliction. If he refuses to do so now, what would give you the confidence to think he would magically seek treatment in May or June?
Marrying someone dealing with such a deeply troubling issue that could spill over to affect you and your child is not a wise idea. Seeking to help him right away is a good idea. I recommend that you seek to help him now, and when he truly makes a positive change in his life you can begin to consider a future with him.
WE DON’T LIKE HOW DAD SPEAKS TO MOM
DR. WALLACE: My sister and I don’t like the way our father speaks to our mother. He’s often rude and condescending to her.
Our mom is a great cook, and she keeps our home together quite well. She’s literally the glue that holds our family together.
We would like to approach our father about this issue because we feel our mom won’t confront him. I’m 17 and my older sister is 18 so we are old enough now to be able to speak out about matters like this. However, we don’t want to start any arguments either. Do you feel it’s best to say something to our father or to just continue to stay silent? — Two Sisters, via email
TWO SISTERS: I do feel you should speak your mind tactfully and respectfully. Perhaps you might seek an opportunity to speak with your father sometime when your mother is not present.
Let him know that your mother said nothing and that you girls are approaching your father on your own behalf. Explain that you love both of your parents, and you want what is best for your family always.
Don’t try to trap or demean your father as you speak to him. Start by telling him all the things you like and respect about him and then gradually get to the point of how you’d like to see your father show your mother more respect on a regular basis.
Adult interpersonal relationships can be complicated, and you likely don’t know everything that has gone one between your parents. Don’t ask for any explanations but be aware that there is much you likely don’t know. Simply focus on improving the decorum in your family home and perhaps give your father a hug after you complete this conversation with him.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.