Mother Needs to Butt Out

By Annie Lane

December 9, 2018 4 min read

Dear Annie: Two years ago, I met a homeless man and took him in. "Steve" has a mental illness and a drug problem. He told me he had no family and was all alone. It was Christmastime, and I couldn't walk away. Come to find out he had been living with his mom, who threw him out over his drug problem. My family and I stood by Steve when he went to prison for a year, and we let him come back to our home, even though his mother didn't want him to. The problem is she is trying to control everything. She wants him every weekend, but he is a grown man. When they fight, she brings him back. Annie, how can I tell her that this is too much? We know about how bad his problems are, and we try to help him. We don't want to be rude, but she is more the problem than he is. — New Family in Kentucky

Dear New Family: The real problem is addiction and the unhealthy dynamics that it has helped to create here. Though I applaud your good intentions in taking Steve in and I understand your wanting to protect him from his mother, it sounds as though you're treating him more like a child than a grown man. All this will do is perpetuate a state of codependency, a disservice to Steve in the long run. Instead of simply acting as his caregivers, encourage him to build a more robust support system, consisting of counselors and recovery groups. And set boundaries to ensure your own mental and emotional health, perhaps with the help of Nar-Anon, LifeRing or another support group for the loved ones of people with addiction.

Dear Annie: Recently, some friends and I were coming back from a camping trip, when a tire blew out. We were on the interstate, and it was pretty scary. Luckily, we were able to easily pull to the shoulder. It was my friend's car, and he didn't have a spare; plus, it was such a busy interstate that even if he'd had one, I wouldn't have liked the idea of one of us crouched on the side of the road trying to put it on. Anyway, fortunately, I have AAA, so we called for roadside assistance. As the technician finished up changing the tire and was walking back to the car, my friend ran to tip him. I was mortified in that moment, realizing I hadn't tipped the previous two times I got roadside help — once to jump my battery, the other because I had locked my keys in my car. I am not the type of person to skimp on tips in general, but I guess that in those moments, I was so preoccupied and stressed that I forgot tipping was even a thing. My question: How rude was it of me not to tip in those two instances, and what are the general expectations for tipping when it comes to roadside assistance? — Driver in Distress

Dear Driver in Distress: AAA states that it's not necessary to tip for roadside assistance. However, "not necessary" doesn't mean "not appreciated." The general consensus among drivers is that between $5 and $10 would be sufficient for standard services, more if it's an especially demanding or risky job. And of course, if you're feeling especially generous, more is always welcome, no matter the circumstances.

"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]

Photo credit: at Pixabay

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