Dear Annie: We need some serious advice about a family member who is driving the entire family insane. When "Billy" was a child, he was considered gifted, and everyone predicted he would accomplish unbelievable things. After six years of college, he has no degree and is only qualified to be a bartender or a rugby player.
But this hasn't stopped him from getting married and having three little kids. They all moved in with his mother and stepfather. They don't assist with any of the bills, but occasionally buy food that they mark as theirs and won't let anyone else eat. His wife has a good job, and we're afraid she might get tired of him being a deadbeat and leave.
Billy has bounced from job to job and either quits or gets fired within weeks. He lost a managerial position when he was late the first day because he couldn't find his tie - he blamed it on his youngest child. Worse, he still thinks he's gifted. Several other members of our family have gone on to get degrees, but Billy makes remarks that indicate he's the genius and they haven't achieved anything. He dominates our family get-togethers. I don't think he realizes his faults or what he's doing to the rest of the family. He always claims to be the victim.
Now he has found a local doctor to prescribe painkillers for his rugby injuries and is passed out in the recliner most of the time. He actually transported two of his children to school and almost hit a school bus. We are taking on water and won't last much longer. Please save our sinking ship and tell us what to do. - Reaching for a Life Jacket
Dear Reaching: Has Billy been tested for attention deficit disorder? Is his doctor aware that these painkillers are too strong? Would his wife insist he get counseling to work on his issues? Is she aware that he drove the kids to school under the influence? Unless Billy is living in your home, you are limited in what you can do about this. But please help your parents and those young children whenever possible.
Dear Annie: My wife and her brother each inherited one-half of their parents' house. My wife gave her 50 percent to one of our two sons, and he purchased the other half from his uncle.
We want to leave our assets to our two sons. My question is: Should we divide the assets evenly or leave more to the son who did not receive my wife's 50 percent? It's not a question of one needing more than the other. They are both doing well. - Somewhere in USA
Dear Somewhere: Your wife's 50-percent ownership of the house was part of your family assets. If you split the remainder evenly, one son may find this unfair. If you don't, the other may feel penalized for buying the house. To prevent unnecessary rancor between the siblings, we suggest you both sit down with your sons and discuss this openly. Put a monetary value on that 50 percent and say that it is part of the division of your future assets. The important thing is not to "surprise" your children after you are gone and there is no recourse. They should understand your reasoning and have the opportunity to weigh in.
Dear Annie: I've dealt with a family member who has been a sex addict for years. I've hinted that a "sex addict" is pretty much the same as a drug addict. If it's something you hide from loved ones, it can't be a positive way of life.
I've noticed the times when this family member seems to be "holding it together" or "keeping it under control." I don't think you can be "in control" of an addiction. It shows in the face, attitude, weight loss or gain, social life and daily living. It pains me that I can't help. I've been told by several family members that "you can't save everybody." Well, I want to try. What can I do? - Caring Relative
Dear Caring: You can stop making assumptions about addicts and what it means for them to keep things under control. We know you mean well and want to help. Please suggest that your relative contact Sex Addicts Anonymous at saa-recovery.org. You also can look up sex addiction and see how you can be a source of support.
Dear Annie: You recently advised "Sad Grandparents" that if they suspect their daughter is being abused by her husband, they should report it to the authorities. Please advise your readers that they can do this anonymously. It may increase the chances of people reporting abuse. - J.
Editor's note: Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email questions to anniesmailbox@ comcast.net, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.