DEAR ABBY: My stepbrother “Pete” is a recovering addict who did significant prison time for possession and gang affiliations. He has also had multiple DUI convictions. He’s been out for two years and is holding a job and taking care of his kids part-time.
My parents think he’s completely rehabilitated, but I think he’s using again, based on his behavior. He has tried to get my husband to give him some of a prescription medication he takes, and jokes about “acting good” when with family but not at home.
I decided I no longer want to be around Pete, particularly with my children, and I asked my parents not to have him over while we are visiting. They said they understood, but the last time we went for a weekend, Pete was there with his son, and it was really uncomfortable. Now they say they just want us to all get along and that I’m “snobby” for wanting to exclude Pete.
I have reached a point where I’m no longer willing to visit them because I can’t trust them. They won’t come to my house, but are mad at me for “withholding their grandkids from them” (their words) and “breaking up the family.” What are my obligations in this situation, and is it reasonable to insist we visit without Pete? I hate to make them choose, but I also feel like this is a safety issue. — UNCOMFORTABLE IN MINNESOTA
DEAR UNCOMFORTABLE: As a parent, you have to do what you think is best for your children. I wish you had explained your parents’ reason for not visiting your home, because it appears to be manipulative and a means of punishing you for sticking to your guns.
Given the fact that Pete has tried to convince your husband to share his scheduled medications and has bragged about “acting good” when with family, you are doing the right thing.
DEAR READERS: Have a very happy and healthy Fourth of July, everyone. And please be safe! — LOVE, ABBY