Dear Amy: My son is in prison. In a few months his sentence for drug possession and a probation violation (for possession) will be completed.
His charges are nonviolent offenses, and he has worked hard to get control over his addiction.
My son and his fiancée have a 3-year-old child together.
The fiancée and child live in our second home in another state — the same state where he is serving his sentence.
We are at our second home four months out of the year.
I need help with what to say to neighbors who are curious about why our son’s fiancée lives in our home with their child (for three years) and then — my son shows up.
I’m sure they’ll ask since they seem very curious about her situation but have, so far, not asked any direct questions of her or us.
Our neighbors are very conservative, older, and talk often about the perceived “crime” wave due to the homeless and addicted.
Do you have any suggestions for the questions that (I feel) are bound to arise: such as, “Where has your son been all this time?”
I love my son and he has paid dearly for his substance abuse (truly a disease).
He’s served his sentence and deserves a chance.
He will likely be living in our second home with his fiancée and child for some time due to financial constraints and I’d like to have an answer for those neighbors (mostly one in particular) who may ask.
We are not close with any of our neighbors and some, like us, are only there a few months out of the year and likely won’t notice or care, but I’m not good at thinking “on my feet,” so I’d like to have an answer prepared for anyone who asks.
Can you help?
— Worried Mother
Dear Worried: You should ask your son and his fiancée what they would prefer you to say, but I’m wondering if you would consider telling the truth: “My son has been incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses related to his addiction. He served his sentence, is in recovery for his addiction, and now he is happily home. We’re delighted to have him back.”
Dear Amy: My friend “Tyler” and I decided to try a yoga class.
As we were doing the first position, he passed gas. Very audibly!
It was super-awkward, but then he said, “Excuse me! Sounds like I started things with a bang.”
People chuckled and the class went on.
I thought Tyler’s recovery from an ultra-embarrassing moment was great, so I mentioned it in an email to a mutual friend of ours, but I stupidly and accidentally sent it to the wrong person (a near-stranger I’d exchanged a couple of emails with a couple of years ago).
The person who received the email posted a screenshot of it on social media with the message: “I got an email about a dude who farted!”
Her posting was reposted many times by her impressive number of followers. The email had Tyler’s actual first and last name and some details about where we live.
I was horrified and insisted that she delete her posting, and she did — but of course it is still “out there,” floating around on the internet.
Should I tell Tyler what happened or hope he never hears about it?
— Downward-Facing Dope
Dear Downward Dope: This person’s choice to post the content of your email (including names and personal details) was extremely unethical.
And social media enables and amplifies unethical choices.
Because “Tyler’s” personal details were broadcast across social media channels, you must tell him about this unfortunate episode.
Like many unfortunate episodes, this one started out benignly, built up some steam, and then escaped on its own — like an audible bubble of gas at a yoga class.
Own your part in this, apologize profusely, and ask to be forgiven.
I hope you two are able to resolve this with a mutual “Namaste” and successfully move on in a respectful friendship.
Tyler sounds like a quick-witted, amiable, and confident person. Because of this, I predict a sweet (smelling) outcome.
I hope you’ll let me know how things turn out.
Dear Amy: “Desperate Phone Hostage” was trapped on lengthy phone calls with monologists.
As soon as she picks up the phone, she can greet the caller and say, “I’ve only got five minutes before I need to go, so what’s up?”
Holding firm to the time limit will help.
— Previous Hostage Released
Dear Released: I endorse your technique.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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