Q:I’m a 64-year-old divorced mother of two sons aged 31 and 33. Their father, an alcoholic, passed away when the boys were 13 and 15.
We were better friends and “parent partners” than a married couple, and worked reasonably well together until his death. Their stepmother and I became close and still work together to guide our boys.
Though I’m close to both sons, it’s difficult to remain impartial and neutral. Both have struggled with alcohol and mental health. I’ve supported them in their recovery, ongoing sobriety and life challenges, taking helpful courses and counselling which I continue.
Both boys are married with young children. Both wives are lovely women.
Their father left them his cottage property jointly, and their grandmother left them another large rural property. But it wasn’t sustainable due to mounting costs. It was sold but one wanted to sell and the other didn’t, causing dissension/hard feelings.
Their relationship has been rocky for five to seven years. The younger son offered an ultimatum to the older: “buy me out, or I’ll buy you out, or we’ll sell it on the open market.”
The older immediately accepted the first option, and the deal went through quickly. The younger became even more angry and mocked his brother’s “struggles” with sobriety. Hurtful words. He’s now questioning my relationship with my older son, as “too lenient, and letting him get away with things.”
I don’t feel partial to either son. Yet the younger now says we must have separate Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations, as he won’t attend where the older is present.
I don’t want to risk losing the minimal access I have to my young grandson.
I believe that my relationship with each son is separate and that they shouldn’t comment or judge me.
Can you offer any guidance to me going forward?
Sober and Solid
A:I applaud your thoughtfulness: “Their stepmother and I became close and still work together to guide our boys.”
Though they’re adults, the guidance of two caring mother figures should’ve been a remarkable support.
But their history of alcoholism distorts the family picture despite your good intentions.
Continue with your own counselling if it helps. Also, assert your own belief that it’s the brothers who have yet to become comfortable with who they are as individuals, and that’s what divides them now.
They’re still competing — whether for the love of a father who was preoccupied with his addiction, or for a way to connect which neither had the self-confidence to achieve.
You’re a good and loving mother. Don’t let them wear you down.
Q:Please publish information about penile implants which my doctor mentioned: Do they work? What types? Cost?
My erectile dysfunction (ED) started after colorectal cancer surgery, and worsened. My sex life requires toys as I try to make us both happy.
I’ve tried all the medications and now am injecting one into my penis to get an erection. I’ve done it now for five years and it’s awful! My next step is implants.
Painfully Missing Sex
A:Even if I were to research this information, I’d be remiss for even thinking that I got it right. You’re seeking specialized information in a complex field of medicine that physicians/surgeons study for years before they use the latest techniques and medications.
Your efforts to make sex possible for you and your wife are impressive. But you must focus on getting the right information from people directly involved with that field.
Question the doctor who advised implants. Get specific information from a specialist. It’s your body!
Ellie’s tip of the day
Disregard any rejection/blame from adult children who deny making their own mistakes.
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Advice | How can I help my troubled sons but still avoid their bitter rivalry? Ask Ellie