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