‘Le­mon’ of a first girl­friend leaves a sour taste in this mom’s mouth

The China Post - - LIFE -

My son, who is 18, fi­nally has a girl­friend. Even though she is a year older, they are only chil­dren. Both are at­tend­ing col­lege, work­ing to­ward their as­so­ciate’s de­grees. My son has a part­time con­struc­tion job, and be­cause it’s sea­sonal, he some­times has to work week­ends. His girl­friend doesn’t have a job but is sup­pos­edly look­ing. They are both liv­ing with me, pay­ing noth­ing, and now the girl­friend says my son can’t work on Sun­days be­cause he needs to go to church with her fam­ily. This means he loses a great deal of in­come.

I have set new rules for liv­ing here: They each need to pay US$50 a week and clean up af­ter them­selves. OMG, the girl­friend doesn’t like any of that. I told my son, “Since she is telling you not to work, I am hold­ing you re­spon­si­ble for the money and the cleanup.”

They use my car and don’t take care of it, and nei­ther of them has in­sur­ance. This is my son’s very first girl­friend, and although I don’t want to mess it up, I am stressed from all the non­help I am get­ting. What kind of guide­lines can I make?

— Stressed-Out Mom

Dear Mom: These are not “chil­dren,” but you are al­low­ing them to be­have that way. You can sup­port your son while he gets his de­gree, if that is your choice, but you are un­der no obli­ga­tion to sup­port his girl­friend, es­pe­cially when nei­ther of them does any­thing to help you around the house. What­ever rules you set, be pre­pared to stick to them, whether it’s money for rent, clean­ing and cook­ing as­sis­tance in ex­change for rent, or both. If your son and his girl­friend are un­will­ing to com­ply, then give them a firm dead­line for mov­ing out — per­haps into a cam­pus dorm. We’re sorry your son has picked a le­mon as his first girl­friend, but that is his choice and we ad­vise you to re­main neu­tral.

A year ago, my brother’s daugh­ter got mar­ried in another state. I wasn’t well at the time and couldn’t at­tend, but I did send a nice gift. My two sis­ters also didn’t at­tend for dif­fer­ent rea­sons.

The prob­lem is, my brother is no longer speak­ing to any of us be­cause we didn’t at­tend. I feel ter­ri­ble. My sis­ters are ap­par­ently OK with it, say­ing he’s the one who is los­ing out. But I’m nearly 70, and it both­ers me ev­ery day.

I tried to con­tact him, but he wants no part of a re­la­tion­ship. How can a sib­ling do this af­ter so many years of be­ing close? I don’t want to go to my grave not speak­ing to my brother.

— Anony­mous Sis­ter

Dear Sis­ter: Your brother was ob­vi­ously hurt that none of his sis­ters showed up for his daugh­ter’s wed­ding — an event that was enor­mously im­por­tant to him. While you may have had a good rea­son, it was prob­a­bly the com­bined ab­sence of all of you that turned the tide. It’s also pos­si­ble that his wife or daugh­ter were ter­ri­bly of­fended and asked him to cut you off.

Please see whether there is a mu­tual friend or rel­a­tive who would in­ter­cede for you and ex­plain to your brother how sorry you are that you were too ill to at­tend, that you miss him and hope he can for­give you. Life’s too short to hold such grudges. An­nie’s Mail­box is writ­ten by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, long­time ed­i­tors of the Ann Lan­ders col­umn. Please email your ques­tions to an­nies­mail­box@ cre­ators.com, or write to: An­nie’ s Mail­box, c/o Cre­ators Syn­di­cate, 737 3rd Street, Her­mosa Beach, CA, USA.

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