Sister fears for young niece being raised in toxic home

Published 11:09 am Tuesday, June 2, 2020

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DEAR ABBY: After many years, my sister and I finally have a decent relationship. I feel I can tell her about almost anything.
My brother-in-law, “Aaron,” is an alcoholic, and my sister enables him. When he drinks, his already quick temper becomes worse and he “knows everything.” To make things worse, they have a 3-year-old child I’ll call “Casey.” It infuriates me when I see Aaron’s crude, foul-mouthed, “omnipotent” behavior in front of Casey.
There have been times he has used my presence (because I babysit Casey) to drink to the point of impairment. When Casey has a tantrum or is overtired and acts her age, Aaron loses patience with her. He yells at her, slams things down in front of her and storms out of the room.
I’m well aware that children watch and learn behavior from their parents. Daughters will seek out boys, then men who behave like their father, thinking it is normal behavior. How do I approach my sister, who buys Aaron whiskey when he’s feeling down, that there’s a serious problem here?
My husband and I have a stable home and successfully raised five children. We would be willing to take in Casey until Aaron is truly well. My comments to my sister will be met with fury or maybe hatred, but I will do whatever is best for Casey. I love that little girl too much to see her raised in such a toxic environment. — BETWEEN A DRUNK AND A HARD PLACE
DEAR BETWEEN: You say your sister slips her husband alcohol when he’s down. To me that says he may be using it to self-medicate depression.
You DO need to talk with your sister. When you do, explain you are concerned about Aaron’s change of behavior when he drinks and the effect it has — and will continue to have — on little Casey. Aaron does need help, but so does your sister. Enabling someone, as well-intentioned as it may be, is not helping the person.
Aaron needs to talk to a doctor about his episodes of depression, and your sister could gain a great deal of insight by attending some Al-Anon meetings. You can find one nearby by visiting Offer to go with her if she’s reluctant.
DEAR ABBY: I am in an interracial relationship (I’m black, and she’s white/Hispanic). We have been together for a year.
She has met just about all my family and all of my friends, but I have only met four people in her life. She has a lot of friends on social media, but no one knows about me. She never posts pictures of us or even hints anything about me. She is friends with her ex-boyfriend, and she knows about his girlfriend, but he has no clue about me. No one does. I feel like I’m her invisible man.
She comes from a “country” background, and I’m afraid she is embarrassed or ashamed of me. Am I reading too much into this, or should I be concerned that she may not be into me as much as I am into her? We were talking about getting married. — INVISIBLE MAN IN TEXAS
DEAR INVISIBLE MAN: Something isn’t right here. You say you “were” talking about getting married. Are you still talking about it? I find it peculiar that after being together for a year, you haven’t met her family, you have met so few of her friends and she has posted nothing about you on social media. The time has come to ask her the reason and whether your romance may have run its course.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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