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Dear Amy: My husband and I own a small family business, but we don’t run the day-to-day operation.

We started the business with one of our sons, and he worked very hard for the first three or so years. But he started slacking off about three years ago, feeling as if he had “earned” the right to work when (and if) he wanted. The last 18 months he has hardly worked at all. He has done nothing to help the company’s bottom line, even though we’ve struggled financially.

So, after consulting counselors and a lawyer through this ordeal, we have decided that we must let him go. He will receive his pay and benefits for six months.

I feel horrible that it has come to this, as he is also going through a messy divorce. He is obviously quite taken aback and is distant from us, even though I think he realizes that this is ultimately his doing.

How do I reach out to him and stay connected and reassure him that we still love him and want a relationship? There are also grandchildren involved, who need us and the stability we offer, in addition to our love and support.

My heart is torn and aching, but we had the other employees to consider and the viability of our company. My hope is that we can get past this and find a way to maintain our family bond.

Distressed: I can imagine that your son might not welcome an in-depth discussion about this decision, because revisiting it is to revisit his own failure. But I think you do need to talk about it — or at least convey that you are willing and available to talk about it.

I suggest that you start by affirming that you are aware that this is a tough time for him. Tell him that you hope he understands the professional choice you made, and say that you are willing to talk about it or answer any questions he might have.

Affirm your love and support and let him know that you are in his corner as he gets through this challenging time. Continue to reach out to him, even if his reaction is subdued. Invite and include your son and grandchildren in family events.

This particular episode might prove to be a wake-up call for him, but it could take time before he realizes it.

Dear Amy: I am a nurse who has worked the night shift for almost 30 years. I am able to sleep well during the day and function extremely well at work.

My problem? My mother read in a pseudoscientific (supermarket checkout lane) magazine that night shift workers are at risk for sudden death. She constantly quizzes me on my work schedule and then carries on when I admit that I am still working the night shift.

I have explained to her that I love my job and that I am functional and happy with my schedule.

Is there anything I can do to convince my mother that I am not only safe but also blessed to work this schedule and reap the extra pay?

Night Shift: A good friend of mine recently recounted how she copes with her elderly mother’s ruminating on one topic.

The daughter listens, responds to the well-worn topic one time (“I know how much that bothers you …”) and then bluntly says, “Let’s change the subject and talk about something else.”

Then she asks her mother a question on another topic.

Dear Amy: “Stuck in the Middle” was a prospective bride who was torn about who should walk her down the aisle, because her father is an alcoholic and would probably drink on the day of her wedding.

When my husband and I were married, he and I walked down the aisle together. My dad was an alcoholic, and I would have bet money that he would be drinking. Besides, as I told those who questioned me, I was not my father’s property to give away. That is a custom that should be done away with.

Yes, my dad drank the whole time. I’ve never regretted my decision.

No Regrets: I agree with you about the concept of a father “giving his daughter away.” This is a convention that has thoroughly outlived its symbolic meaning.

You made the right choice regarding your wedding. The very best way to look back on this important event is with “no regrets.”

©2023 by Amy Dickinson distributed by Tribune Content Agency