Dear Amy: My mother is a single, 60-year-old woman who does not want to be a responsible person. Her father was verbally abusive. She married my dad and both of them were abusive toward each other, and toward their children. They divorced 14 years ago.

Since then she has become an alcoholic and a smoker. She blames her problems on her parents and my father, and feels like all of her kids should be taking care of her now (my grandmother helped to pay her bills before she died).

She refuses to get mental help because she claims to not need it, due to her degree in psychology 35 years ago.

She'll stop drinking briefly and then resume. She verbally abuses her kids, but still expects us to help her because she gave birth to us.

I want my child to have grandparents around, because I did not have any growing up.

Mom recently inherited money and now she wants to drive around the country camping until she can't anymore, when she will come back and stay with me.

I have not agreed to this, due to her behavior.

Two of my siblings have blocked her from all contact. I block her while she is on her drinking binges because of all the verbal abuse, but I feel like someone should take care of her because that is what kids do for their parents when they age.

At what point do I call it quits for my own mental health, or to shield my child from her?

Responsible, or Not?

Responsible, or Not: Because you seem to have absorbed the message that children are obligated to take care of their parents, let’s examine the other half of that obligation: that of parents toward their children.

Your mother did not protect or nurture you. She abused you, and now she wants to use you.

If she had been a different sort of parent, her children would be rallying around her now, and you wouldn’t be so tortured about your relationship.

You should be a different sort of parent to your child. Break the cycle.

Your mother is choosing not to deal with her alcoholism. She has the right to live her life. She does not have the right to force you to support her choices.

I highly recommend the book, “The New Codependency: Help and Guidance for Today’s Generation,” by addiction specialist Melody Beattie (2009, Simon & Schuster). You will recognize yourself in its pages.

Also, your mother won’t seek help for her addiction, but you should. I urge you to attend Al-Anon — or another “friends and family” addiction support group.

Dear Amy: I am recently divorced. My daughter is leaving for college.

What I find most difficult about all of this is the way married friends and even married siblings no longer try to socialize with me.

It's as if because I'm not part of a couple, I no longer exist. I am incredulous that in 2019, this is still happening.

I find myself alone on all fronts, and I'm getting really irritated about being consistently excluded.

It's hard enough being alone in your 50s, but then people who are married treat me as though I don't matter because I am not part of a couple.

I am over the divorce. I'm going back to school. I am working and do not sit around bemoaning my single status.

What I AM upset about is the way married people treat their divorced friends and family.

Note to all: If we want space, we will tell you. We need our friends and family now more than when we were married.

Amy, is this common?

Frustrated With Friends

Frustrated With Friends: Yes, this dynamic is common, if not universal. People who are widowed — or who have never partnered-up — also experience it. I’ve experienced it, myself.

You could mitigate some of this frustration by initiating contact with your coupled friends and family. Host a barbecue. Invite them on outings.

If you stay single for an appreciable length of time, you will see that your desire to spend time around couples will also shift.

Dear Amy: I was surprised at your reaction to "Stand Tough Mom," whose son got into trouble after a drunken brawl at college. Usually you are such a cream puff, but this time you advised tough love. What gives?

Wondering

Wondering: Yes, I admit to being a “cream puff” concerning younger children. My own reaction to infractions toughens proportionally, along with the age of the child.

© 2019 by Amy Dickinson distributed by Tribune Content Agency