DEAR ABBY: I am a 27-year-old man and not very close to my extended family. Out of the blue, my teen-age cousin called and asked if he could come and stay at my house for a week while he looks at colleges in Los Angeles. Of course, I agreed, but now I realize that entertaining and feeding a 17-year-old for a week will be somewhat costly -- and I am by no means wealthy.
Should I call and ask his parents to provide expense money, or, by initially accepting my cousin's request, is the responsibility now mine? -- "JOHN" IN SANTA MONICA
DEAR "JOHN": It was kind of you to agree to host your young cousin, and it will provide a wonderful opportunity for you to become better acquainted with your extended family.
Call ahead and ask what he would like to do while visiting you, and you'll have a better idea of what he "expects." Most teen-agers like hot dogs and hamburgers, and watching videos -- none of which should break your budget. If what he wants is expensive, tell him honestly that you can't afford it, and let his parents come up with the extra cash.
Enjoy your time together. It could be the beginning of a rewarding relationship for both of you.
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.
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