Fa­ther, son in de­mo­li­tion derby

The Mercury News - - Mar­ket­place - Ask Amy Amy Dick­in­son Con­tact Amy Dick­in­son via email at askamy@ tribpub.com.

DEAR AMY >> I’ve been dat­ing a won­der­ful man, “Don,” for a year.

I am wor­ried that Don is be­ing used by his fa­ther, “Don Sr.”

Don Sr. moved in with him three years ago. In that time frame Don has not only paid for ev­ery­thing, in­clud­ing his fa­ther’s bills, but he has also bought four cars for his fa­ther, and his fa­ther has put these cars into der­bies, al­ways with­out ask­ing.

This year Don Sr. put his only car into the derby, again. Af­ter a few fights, ev­ery­thing seemed OK.

Now he needs an­other ve­hi­cle, oth­er­wise he won’t be able to drive to work.

He hasn’t even started to look for a ve­hi­cle, and ev­ery time Don or I tell him about a car that we saw for sale, he shrugs it off. He is so con­tent with Don hand­ing him ev­ery­thing. He said he doesn’t care if he gets his own car, be­cause he can just drive one of Don’s.

It’s not my place to say any­thing, and when I do, it usu­ally ends up with Don and me fight­ing. I’m tired of him be­ing used like this. I don’t want to fight with Don about his fa­ther, but what can I do to help? — Out of Place

DEAR OUT OF PLACE >> Un­der­stand with clar­ity that this fa­ther/son re­la­tion­ship is its own con­tained sys­tem. Things would change if Don Jr. wanted them to change. But the fa­ther is a user and the son is an en­abler. The son is ac­tu­ally train­ing his fa­ther to be com­pletely re­liant on him.

I love a de­mo­li­tion derby as much as the next gal, but what a colos­sal waste this is of a driv­able ve­hi­cle!

The way out for you is to adopt to­tal de­tach­ment. I’m go­ing to pro­vide two phrases which will help you:

“That’s too bad,” and, “You’ll fig­ure it out.”

Don Jr. says, “Dad won’t look for a new car!” You say, “That’s too bad.”

Don Jr. says, “My fa­ther is us­ing me!” You say, “You’ll fig­ure it out.” That is the ex­tent of your com­men­tary or in­volve­ment.

If you sim­ply refuse to get wound up about this, this fa­ther-son re­la­tion­ship will either con­tinue as it is, or the son will fi­nally set some lim­its. Either way, you will grad­u­ally stop car­ing.

DEAR AMY >> I loved your firm an­swer to “Un­sure,” whose hus­band was bat­tling their Home Own­ers As­so­ci­a­tion (HOA) over his right to put up Hal­loween dec­o­ra­tions.

I am on the board of my HOA, and we board mem­bers also fight the good fight over ridicu­lous rules.

I liked your ad­vice that this man should con­tinue his protest by join­ing the board. — HOA Happy

DEAR HAPPY >> I was sur­prised (and pleased) by how many HOA board mem­bers con­tacted me, sup­port­ing this man’s po­si­tion.

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