Dear Amy:

My wife and her family and friends think it is totally acceptable to drink in front of young children.

We live in a very social neighborhood and the neighbors agree with my wife!

We are in our early forties, with a 4-year-old son, who I don't think should be exposed to this.

It is never just a drink or two.

On one or two occasions, I've simply brought our son home from the neighbors when the drinking starts.

I was brought up with a greater respect for drinking and thought that children learn by what they see and hear.

Another concern is that my father-in-law was an alcoholic.

Please help me settle this.


I think it is completely fine to drink alcohol in front of young children. I'm talking about a glass of wine at dinner or some of Aunt Millie's eggnog at the holiday party.

What isn't fine is getting blotto in front of the kids.

If your wife is getting drunk and acting stupid in front of your son, then it is time to confront the idea that she may have a drinking problem. If she doesn't get a handle on her drinking now, it could get worse and that would be very hard on your family. If you and she aren't able to come to terms about this, you should check out Al-Anon ( You can share strategies, concerns and find comfort from meeting with other people connected to problem drinkers.

Dear Amy:

I think you came down a little hard on the 16-year-old who wouldn't go to the high school counselor for help.

Ten years ago my grandson was in high school, and because of his parents' divorce and little guidance from home, he was failing most of his subjects.

I arranged for the two of us (grandson and me) to see his school counselor.

We got little encouragement, and the counselor treated him like a "throwaway" kid.

Consequently, I became more involved, and my grandson graduated. At the graduation ceremonies, the counselor passed out diplomas, and when he came to my grandson said, "I didn't think I'd see the day I'd be doing this."

This counselor might have been very good at advising "A" students on how to get into the right colleges, but he couldn't care less about the needs and direction of the underachievers who really needed his help.

A Concerned Grandparent

I have received a surprising number of negative letters about high school counselors. These anecdotal reports suggest that some of our most vulnerable kids are being ill-served by the professionals who are charged with helping them.

I owe a certain 16-year-old an apology and a "thank you" for alerting me (and readers) to this issue. If teens have incompetent counselors, they should seek out another adult for help.

Dear Amy:

After reading a recent letter from "Bothered," whose husband discovered an old, sexy e-mail she had written to a boyfriend, I have to wonder why she would keep an old e-mail to another man? I'm not condoning the husband's actions, but it seemed to be an obvious question.

As you often mention in your column, the most useful key on the computer is "Delete."

Beth in Wis.

Many people share your curiosity. But am I the only person in the world who keeps every scrap of correspondence, going back to childhood?

Perhaps readers can say why people should or should not "toss" old letters. I say that private letters should stay private.

Write to Amy Dickinson at or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

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