DEAR ABBY: Our son, "Adam," is 24 and lives at home. He had some kind of mental breakdown at school -- no one will tell us what he had -- and he says he's too depressed to work or go back to school.
Adam stays in his room all day watching TV. He's on medication, but I don't think he's taking it regularly. His doctor refuses to talk to us because Adam won't give her permission to do so.
Abby, we don't know what to do. Should we let him stay in his room or make him go to work? How can we make him take his medicine? What if he kills himself? We love our son and want to help him, but we don't know how. -- FRANTIC MOM IN PHILADELPHIA
DEAR FRANTIC MOM: Because you are involved in your son's care, common sense dictates that you be involved in his treatment planning, and you should insist upon it. Make clear that you are not interested in the details of his therapy, only in what the treatment plan is and what you can do to help. If necessary, inform his therapist that you will pay for therapy only if she gives you some basic information.
It is especially important that you know whether or not your son is actually ready to go to work, and that there is an emergency plan in place should he become suicidal. If the doctor understands the extent to which family involvement helps, she will find a way to explain it to your son so that permission will be given.
Clear boundaries should be set on what you will and will not be told. At that time, you, your son and his doctor will need to make a plan together so you are not put in the position of always having to remind him to take his meds.
If the doctor won't talk directly TO you, remember that she is still permitted to LISTEN to whatever information you want to give -- so leave a voicemail. The therapist will share whatever you say with your son, but at least you will be on record with having given the information.
DEAR ABBY: What are your thoughts on a mother of five children, four girls and a son, ages 10 through 18, who is naked when she awakens them for school each morning?
It bothers them, and I am beyond shocked. Surely common decency hasn't changed that much. Don't you think her behavior is bizarre and inappropriate? -- STUNNED GRANDMOTHER IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR GRANDMOTHER: Not everyone feels as strongly as you do about nudity. However, because her relaxed attitude on the subject bothers your grandchildren to the point that they have complained to you, the mother's behavior is inappropriate. Considering the average temperature at this time of year in Pennsylvania, it could also be considered "bizarre."
Because these children are now old enough to get up for school on their own, why not give them each an alarm clock and suggest they start now?
DEAR ABBY: I have three daughters, 2, 16 and 18. My 16-year-old, "Tracy," and I are having an ongoing disagreement. She feels it is my responsibility to make her lunch every day. I feel Tracy is old enough to do it herself, but she insists that all of her friends' mothers do this for their daughters. What do you think of this situation? -- A.B. IN BELMONT, CALIF.
DEAR A.B.: Your daughter may be trying to "guilt" you into doing a chore that she would rather not do, or she may feel emotionally needy. Until recently, Tracy was the baby in your family. Now she is the middle child. It is possible that she feels displaced. You need to talk to her about accepting responsibility and that the willingness to do so is a sign of growth and maturity.