Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Mom Worries That Son in Jail Will Sentence Family to Grief

DEAR ABBY: My son got into serious trouble and is in jail right now. He is 19 and began getting into trouble with the law three years ago. He's close to his grandparents, who live out of state, and when he first got into trouble at age 16, I kept them in the dark about it as long as I could. They eventually found out, and I know they worried a lot.

My son stayed out of trouble for more than a year. He went to counseling for alcohol abuse and other problems. I realized he still had problems. But three days ago, he and a friend of his broke into someone's garage to steal and were caught. My heart broke once again. My son is now in county jail. I visited him there and managed to hold back my tears in front of him, but I cried all the way home.

Here's my problem: Should I tell my parents, who are 1,000 miles away, and cause them all this grief? My mother telephones every weekend to "check in." I didn't have the heart to tell her this Sunday. Do you think she has the right to know? She always asks about her grandsons and is especially close to this one. I just don't want her to worry. -- BROKENHEARTED MOTHER

DEAR BROKENHEARTED: Since your mother always asks, and feels especially close to this grandchild, I think you should tell her the truth now. Eventually she will have to be told, unless you intend to deceive your parents about the boy's whereabouts until he's served his time. If so, your chances for pulling it off are slim.