Watch­ing this do­mes­tic dis­pute from the side­lines

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Valley Life -

Dear An­nie: My son “Bo” has been with his wife, “Joyce,” for 13 years. Sev­eral months ago, my hus­band and I spent a long week­end at the beach with our chil­dren and grand­chil­dren. My hus­band rises early, and he was in the kitchen at 4 a.m., start­ing his day, when he ran into Joyce. She was just get­ting home. Without my ask­ing, Joyce ex­plained to me the next day that she doesn’t get to go out of­ten and that tav­ern own­ers re­mem­bered her from the pre­vi­ous year when she did karaoke there. She said they were buy­ing her drinks and later in­vited her to their beach house. I told her that when men buy you free drinks they usu­ally want some­thing in re­turn.

She was away daily most of the time out with her brother, “John,” who is very de­pen­dent on her so­cially. Bo seemed in­dif­fer­ent to her be­hav­ior the en­tire time. This week, my hus­band and I vis­ited to at­tend a grand­child’s school play and soc­cer game. Dur­ing the visit I found out that John is now re­sid­ing on first level of their home, and Bo is now liv­ing on in the fin­ished base­ment. I asked Bo about liv­ing ar­range­ments, and he said that he and John do not get along, so he moved down­stairs. John does not pay rent or help fi­nan­cially; he just helps around the house.

Bo and Joyce are in debt, yet some­how she’s al­ways plan­ning trips out of state and out of the coun­try. She of­ten puts ex­trav­a­gant ideas in the kids’ heads such as go­ing to Paris for a birth­day. I want to help fi­nan­cially and be sup­port­ive, but I am not sure how. I told Bo my con­cerns about their fi­nances, and he said they’re try­ing to cut back. My hus­band thinks that she likes for me to visit be­cause I pay for things while I’m there.

In ad­di­tion to these con­cerns, I would say that Joyce is a bor­der­line hoarder. The liv­ing room and din­ing room are com­pletely full with mostly cloth­ing and things from her grand­mother’s es­tate. They have two stor­age units with non­work­ing cars in them.

She is very in­se­cure and had a dif­fi­cult child­hood, so I sym­pa­thize with her. Yet, some­times she com­plains about Bo in front of us and it is hard to not say any­thing. They are com­ing to din­ner for the hol­i­days and I feel I should tell Bo that he needs to in­sist she get rid of things. I did sug­gest to Bo they see a coun­selor. I want to have this dis­cus­sion with Joyce over Thanks­giv­ing. Also, I want to tell her out­right that she is devel­op­ing a bad habit of hoard­ing.

— Wor­ried Mom Watch­ing On

Dear Wor­ried Mom:

It’s painful to watch from the side­lines as your child strug­gles. You want to jump in, help him, make it all bet­ter. But the side­lines are ex­actly where you need to be to cheer him on and best sup­port him. We can­not live our chil­dren’s lives for them, and once they’ve reached adult­hood, we have to al­low them the dig­nity to make their own mis­takes and dis­cov­er­ies.

While it was wise of you to sug­gest mar­riage coun­sel­ing, I’d cau­tion you against giv­ing un­so­licited ad­vice be­yond that, to him or to Joyce. Ac­tively com­mu­ni­cate with your son and ask how he’s do­ing, sans pry­ing. Foster a healthy, re­spect­ful di­a­logue, and trust that he’ll come to you if and when he’s ready to talk about what­ever is go­ing on in his mar­riage.

Send your ques­tions for An­nie Lane to dear­an­[email protected] cre­

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