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

by Abigail Van Buren

Man Having Second Thoughts About Hosting Teen Age Cousin

DEAR ABBY: This is in response to "Stacking the Odds in Oregon," who decided not to name her mother as guardian of her children because of her drinking problems. Not knowing "Stacking" and Grandma personally, I don't know whether Grandma really does have a drinking problem (getting drunk and "loud" only when she entertains doesn't sound very serious to me). However, I was moved to write on behalf of all social drinkers who get labeled "alcoholics" by their friends and family who are recovering addicts.

I don't mean to belittle the pain of those who grew up with drunk, abusive, self-destructive parents, but it is possible to drink socially without having a "problem." My own parents did it, my husband and I do it, and I have never noticed any negative impact on our lives.

If someone came to me, like "Stacking" to Grandma, and accused me of having a drinking problem, I would probably be just as "hostile and defensive" as Grandma, and then be labeled "in denial." It's a no-win situation.

Please, all you children of alcoholics, don't perceive all drinking as being a "problem." For some people it is; for some it isn't. -- NO PROBLEM IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR NO PROBLEM: Whether Grandma is or is not a problem drinker may be open to interpretation. The woman's "social drinking" was unpleasant enough to her daughter that she doesn't want to subject her own children to it. And as a parent, that's her choice to make.

While many people can drink socially without becoming problem drinkers, I'm not so sure that the majority of them would react with hostility were they told they had a drinking problem. The normal reaction to a preposterous statement is to laugh, not to become defensive. In fact, when someone becomes defensive, that individual should examine more closely the reason why.