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Dear Amy: I am a mom with two grown children, "Charlie," 26, and "Liza," 23.

Liza recently let me know that she and her brother were molested for many years throughout their childhood by my sister-in-law. I am terribly sad that my children thought they could not tell me this when it was happening. My heart breaks for them that they endured this alone.

My daughter has been in therapy and is dealing with it. My son, however, has been using hard drugs for several years. I would like to tell him that I know what happened and offer to get him help.

I am torn, because this obviously is something that he does not want me to know. Should I respect his privacy, or should I tell him that his sister told me? I am afraid if I say the wrong thing his drug use may spiral out of control again.

Amy says: Please do not let his addiction control your willingness to face this heartbreaking challenge openly. You cannot control how he will respond, but I hope you will hold fast and stay in his corner.

You don't mention any consequences for the adult who abused them. I hope your daughter will permit you to attend a session with her therapist to discuss next steps, including going to the police.

Male victims of sexual violence are an underreported demographic, and your son deserves to tell his story, be believed and receive help. is a resource dedicated to male survivors, and those who love them. You and your son can be connected with other survivors and with counselors.

Troublesome tykes

Dear Amy: I have a family member who has two children under the age of 4. They are completely out of control, screaming, crying, running and climbing on everything in sight. They throw temper tantrums daily.

I work in early childhood education and have seen a gamut of behaviors, but these two are off the charts.

Their parents constantly overstimulate them by tossing them in the air and dangling them upside down.

Everyone is tired of the situation, and I feel like I can't extend advice because it will look like criticism. But my grown children have informed me that if this family is present for the holidays, they won't be coming. What is the answer to this situation?

Amy says: If you've worked as a childhood educator, surely you have seen other parents whose behavior or reactions amplified, rather than mollified, their children. Parents sometimes believe that countering overstimulation with more stimulation will somehow "tire out" their children, but as you know, overstimulated young children can't focus, and tired children melt down.

There are ways to offer fellowship and support, where you can piggyback some gentle "coaching" onto your compassion in order to offer these parents some common-sense advice.

Resolve that the children won't be climbing all over everything in your house, because you'll calmly stop them and say, "You can't climb on top of the furniture at my house, but over here is something you can do," and point them toward a different activity. Watching you interacting calmly and appropriately with these children might make the lightbulb go on for the parents.

If you are able to catch a quiet moment with these parents, you could say, "I've worked with a lot of kids, and I can see that your two are very active. It's a lot! Let me know if you'd be interested in some tips and tricks I've learned over the years. I also have a couple of books I could recommend, if you're interested."

Send questions to Amy Dickinson at