Dear Amy: Our next-door neighbor is someone most people would think of as an ornery old man who is probably an alcoholic. He rarely acknowledges anyone, drinks and smokes while tinkering in his garage every day, and does things like keeping the kids' soccer balls when they land in his yard until a parent comes to retrieve it with the child.
We ignore his alcohol breath and unpleasant personality and have a civil relationship with him. We have taught our children to be respectful no matter how much they dislike him (unlike some others in the neighborhood).
He has been a good neighbor by informing us when our garage door is open at night, our outdoor pipes are leaking or gushing water, etc.
I have asked him for advice on what to do regarding an outdoor household problem, and he has voluntarily fixed it for us with supplies from his garage. He doesn't stop until it's done correctly in line with his high standards.
We thank him profusely and have "repaid" him with bottles of good wine, which makes him very happy.
But are we being "enablers" by repaying a likely alcoholic with wine?
Dear Enabler: Sidestepping the issue of enabling, I'd like to point out that when you give your neighbor wine, you are providing him with the tools to make him less competent, healthy and (selfishly speaking) less useful to you.
If you were really grateful, you could also throw in a carton of smokes, making him happy but decreasing his life span.
There are many ways to thank this good neighbor that don't involve feeding his addiction — for instance, you could give him a gift card to his favorite hardware store.
You could also offer to rake his leaves or shovel the walk this winter.
Dear Amy: Responding to the letter from "Upset Mom" about her 26-year-old son living at home, I wish more parents would understand that their job as parents is not to protect their children, as they seem to think it is.
Their job is to prepare them to live in the real world.
— Also upset
Dear Also: This question received a large response; most agree that these parents had not served their son well.
You can contact Amy Dickinson via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Twitter @askingamy or "like" her on Facebook.