DR. WALLACE: Our father died about six months ago. He was overweight and died at work from a massive heart attack. He was only 51 years old. The day they buried our father, our mother started drinking to "forget" all of her problems. She was a social drinker before Dad died, but since then, she has been drinking every day, sometimes a lot per day.
Both my brother and I think that she has become an alcoholic. We keep telling Mom that we need her now more than ever and that we want her to stop drinking. She says she will, but so far, she hasn't. We are afraid that if she doesn't stop drinking, she will eventually die from alcohol abuse. Mom says that she knows alcohol is not good for a person but that it will not kill her. She also said she would definitely quit drinking "in a week." That was two weeks ago, and she has not even slowed down her consumption one bit. Please help. Mom reads your column even when she is drinking. Deep down I know she wants to stop drinking, and my brother and I think that maybe she just does not know how to. — Worried Siblings, South Bend, Ind.
SIBLINGS: If indeed your mother is an alcoholic, it will be very difficult for her to overcome this addiction by herself. I recommend that you encourage her to contact Alcoholics Anonymous. A teen program, Alateen, is a part of the AA family and is designed to help teens cope with alcoholic parents. Even if your mom delays contacting AA, you and your brother can get involved immediately with Alateen. The people there can help both you and your brother right away and make good suggestions on how best to encourage your mother to seek the help she needs as soon as possible.
Your mom's chances for a successful treatment plan are much better than average because she is in the early stages of alcoholism now, according to your sad family story. Keep in touch to update us on your progress. Good luck to each of your family members going forward. You've earned my respect big-time by reaching out here for assistance. Now keep the good momentum going and take the next step to get help in your area.
I'M MARRIED TO A 19-YEAR-OLD LOVING HUSBAND
DR. WALLACE: Recently, a guy who is 19 wrote to you saying he was getting a lot of flak from his family and friends because his girlfriend is four years older than he is. I am glad you encouraged them to stay together. You were 100 percent correct when you stated that if he were 23 and she were 19, no one would think anything at all about the age gap.
I know exactly how they feel. I am a 24-year-old woman married to a handsome, kind, sincere, loving 19-year-old guy. Our families said we were crazy, unwise and immature to get married with a five-year age difference — especially because I, the woman, am "so much older than he is." It so happens that my husband is the most mature individual I have ever known. The only way we could stop all the gossip was to get married a bit earlier than we had originally planned. We were going to wait until November, but we married late this spring. All I can say is that we are deeply in love. We get along great, and he treats me with respect each and every day. And I, of course, treat him exactly the same way. In fact, if you looked at a photograph of us, you might think we are even the same age! — Happily Married, Memphis, Tenn.
HAPPILY MARRIED: When a husband and wife are both 18 or older, an age difference that's counted in years and not decades is usually insignificant. Good for you for focusing on your future mate's maturity rather than merely his biological age. He is, after all, "of age." And good for him to find a nice, levelheaded woman such as you!
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.