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Ask Amy: Grandmother feels trapped in her own home

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Dear Amy: My 36-year-old daughter and 8-year-old granddaughter live with me.

My daughter has a small business, which brings in barely enough income for her to survive; it would be difficult, if not nearly impossible, for her to get her own place.

My daughter seems to get involved in one bad relationship after another, pays minimal attention to her child, drinks excessively, relies on me for child care, rarely helps around the house and frequently cannot give me the agreed-upon rent of $300 a month.

I am approaching retirement age but feel I can’t actually retire, as it will mean selling my house and finding something smaller that I could afford.

While I would be OK with telling my daughter that she needs to paddle her own canoe, I’m reluctant to abandon my granddaughter.

I’ve suggested, begged and hinted that my daughter get some counseling.

She has struggled with depression and anxiety and takes medication, which doesn’t seem to help much.

Any ideas? — In a Tough Spot

Dear Tough Spot: Your daughter cannot reach her potential, as a person and a parent, until she stops drinking. Her alcohol use interferes with her judgment, triggers her depression and affects her ambition — and the efficacy of her medication.

And you cannot even begin to get out from under this until you get some professional and therapeutic coaching about how to stop enabling your daughter without abandoning your granddaughter. Suggestions, hints and begging are not going to cut it. You have to create and maintain enough pressure and workable consequences to try to force your daughter toward change.

You also need to fully absorb the real possibility that your daughter will not change. Will you try to force her out of your home? This might be a challenge, certainly if she refuses to go (I have read of parents actually selling their homes and moving to force out a resident family member).

You should contact your local department of Family & Children’s Services to connect with a social worker who could work with you to develop a plan and locate services to help your family. If your daughter refuses to attend sessions, go on your own.

You should also attend a “friends and family” support group (check for a local meeting).

For inspiration, read “Don’t Let Your Kids Kill You: A Guide for Parents of Drug and Alcohol Addicted Children” by Charles Rubin (2007, New Century Publishers). Rubin’s central message is about how to stop enabling and set boundaries — to save your own life.

You can contact Amy Dickinson via email: Readers may send postal mail to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or “like” her on Facebook.

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