Amy: Dad's girlfriend is abusive

  • Article by: AMY DICKINSON
  • Chicago Tribune
  • August 25, 2012 - 1:50 PM

Dear Amy: About 20 years ago, shortly after my mother died, my father became involved with a woman. She has become a big problem for my siblings and me.

She has done everything in her power to keep us out of my dad's life. She has also intimidated him into signing property over to her. He has called us saying she is abusive, and she even left him in the driveway after he fell because she was angry with him. He will not talk to anyone else about this, but we have tried our best to keep him safe.

My real problem is that our extended family thinks that she is the nicest woman and that we are so lucky to have her in our father's life. The most common comment we get is, "Because she's in his life you won't have to take care of him when he can't take care of himself."

What should we say to them? How do we convey how concerned we are?

Amy says: I hope you don't really think that your most urgent problem is what other family members think of this woman. That should be immaterial.

Your father is being abused and neglected. You need to advocate for him and act on his behalf -- now. Every state has an elder-abuse hot line. You can check the National Center on Elder Abuse to see how to report this abuse at or 1-800-677-1116.

Abusers come in all forms -- they can be family members, trusted friends or professional caregivers. Take action now -- worry about explaining it later.

Son chooses shabby attire

Dear Amy: My 25-year-old son is a sweet, kind guy. His personal habits, though, are hard for me to ignore. One example: He recently showed up to a concert at a nice venue wearing cutoffs, very old, beat-up tennis shoes and a T-shirt. He doesn't have much money, I realize, but I know he could do better.

I've always believed he would grow out of this phase. He supports himself at a minimum-wage job, doesn't ask for money from me and has a nice girlfriend. I think he would have a more satisfying job and social life, though, if this one area of his life were different. Is there anything I can say that would be helpful?

Amy says: You should not tell a 25-year-old man how to dress -- even if you did raise him. If your son ever said to you, "Mom, what do you think I need to do to escape my minimum-wage life?" you could suggest that he should dress more professionally. Otherwise, appreciate him as he is.

Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Av., Chicago, IL 60611.

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