DEAR ABBY: My mother, "Belle," had me when she was 16. All my life I have been her best friend. I think she made it that way so she wouldn't have to deal with having a child. Belle has always abused alcohol and drugs. She was also married several times over the years. I don't think she ever really grew up.
My childhood was spent being shuffled from one family to the next. About a year ago, Belle got into trouble (again) and had nowhere to live. I am married with two young children. We live about three hours away from her "trouble." I invited her to come and stay with me so she could have a fresh start.
Well, Belle's driver's license was suspended because of past trouble, so I cart her around everywhere. She's still up to her same old tricks, parading men in and out, drinking, drugs, etc. This has caused many fights between me and my husband. I have reached the end of my rope. I don't want to just write Belle off because she's my mother. But I really don't want anything more to do with her. All she does is cause heartache for my children and me. What do I do? -- MY MOTHER'S KEEPER, MONROE, LA.
DEAR MOTHER'S KEEPER: Recognize that you are your CHILDREN'S mother, not your mother's. Having an adult in the house who abuses alcohol and drugs and "parades men in and out" creates an unhealthy atmosphere for your little ones. So give Belle an ultimatum: Get clean and sober immediately and forgo the gentlemen callers, or leave. This may seem cold, but unless you put your foot down, nothing will change.
Now that you are finished reading this, check your phone book for the nearest meeting of Adult Children of Alcoholics. It's a group that was created specifically for individuals like you who were raised in alcoholic or dysfunctional households. They can help you to stop making your mother's problems your own. If they're not in your phone book, e-mail them at info(at)adultchildren.org or write: ACA, Box 3216, Torrance, CA 90510-3216.