Dear Amy: My wife and I have been married for eight years.

We've always shared household chores. She recently put her career on hold to focus on our two small children, and she is an amazing mother.

My only complaint is her apathy toward recycling. I'm constantly picking recyclables out of the trash and trash out of the recycling bin.

Recyclables that do make it into the correct bin are often contaminated with food waste which, I've read, gum up the machines.

I've gently reminded her of the proper way to handle recyclables, but I am usually met with a "whatever" attitude or dismissive comment about "washing garbage."

More often, I just pick through the respective bins and put things in the right spot, but I feel like that's encouraging her to continue not to care.

I realize in the grand scheme of things this is pretty minor, but I'm wondering if you have any suggestions on how to persuade her to care more about proper recycling etiquette.

Amy says: My solution is to suggest that you simply realize that your wife is a nonstarter in this regard, and to stop correcting her. I am thereby appointing you the recycle czar of your household. As such, you will take on this job with enthusiasm and without complaint. Furthermore, I'm appointing your two young children to be your official assistants.

Even very young children can enjoy the job of safely sorting (clean) plastics. You should delineate a color-coded bin for the recyclables, teach your kids the basics, explain to them why you are doing this, and ask them to put recyclables into the appropriate bin. Then they can help you take the bin to the curb and watch the big truck take the discarded items away.

If you do this, quite soon your children will start to police your wife, reminding her which bin to use. This might inspire her to get on board.

Keep coming back

Dear Amy: Thank you for your wise response to the reader who was so upset that her two stepsons (both addicts) were so often extremely late for her special home-cooked meals.

As a mother who lost a son to addiction, I can tell you that I never stop wishing there was one more birthday or holiday meal with my son.

Establishing a "home" for those suffering with addiction is the kindest act a parent can do.

Yes, they can be late and unreliable and maybe they won't stay long. But coming home for holiday meals can be a great blessing for troubled souls.

Groups like Al-Anon or Narcotics Anonymous could be a great help to these parents.

At the end of a meeting, they always say, "Keep coming back ..." And that's what parents should always say to their children.

Simpler food could be ordered to save work and still feel like home-cooked meals. The important part is opening up your home and making the family feel welcome.

I would give anything to see my son at my front door. Kitchen problems can be worked out. Time with family is so much more important.

Amy says: Thank you so much for your thoughtful and loving response to a heartbreaking problem. I hope your perspective will help other parents and family members.

Addiction takes an incalculable toll on loved ones that statistics can never measure.

The wisdom of "Keep coming back ..." works in so many contexts, and I thank you for sharing it.

Send questions to Amy Dickinson at askamy@amydickinson.com.