Son should be treated like a hous­esit­ter

Orlando Sentinel - - Puzzles & Advice -

Dear Amy: My hus­band and I are re­tired. We own two homes — one in the north, one in the south.

Our 40-year-old son still lives with us up north.

We spend about six months of the year in each place. We are cov­er­ing ex­penses for our son (ex­cept for his food, car and tele­phone).

He does not con­trib­ute fi­nan­cially in any way. He has worked full-time since grad­u­at­ing col­lege and is do­ing fine fi­nan­cially.

It is com­fort­ing to have some­one in the house while we are gone. When we re­turn, how­ever, I have to deep clean the place, and my hus­band be­comes a 24-hour gar­dener to re­store the home to how it was when we left.

I feel that my son should be con­tribut­ing fi­nan­cially and do­ing some chores, but my hus­band keeps say­ing, “Oh, leave him alone.” I think he should be pay­ing rent. And we def­i­nitely want to re­lax and not be in­ter­rupted by his com­ings and go­ings (and those of his ac­quain­tances).

We love our son dearly and do not want to hurt or alien­ate him. Can you help re­solve this dilemma?

Dear Frus­trated: Your son should be pay­ing rent dur­ing the six months when you are all to­gether. His rent should be re­duced or elim­i­nated dur­ing the time he is ba­si­cally hous­esit­ting for you.

Many peo­ple hire sea­sonal hous­esit­ters be­cause of the sub­stan­tial risks to leav­ing a house empty. Some hous­esit­ters do it in ex­change for a place to live, but many charge a fee.

In terms of you re­turn­ing home to face many large tasks, he is 40 years old! He should help with clean­ing and do the yard work (un­less your hus­band en­joys it), and yes, you should re­turn to a house as clean as you left it. It is com­pletely rea­son­able to ex­pect this. I’m guess­ing you have never made this clear to him, how­ever.

I’ve of­fered prac­ti­cal ideas. How­ever, it sounds as if you just don’t want to live with your son. That is com­pletely un­der­stand­able and ab­so­lutely within rea­son. You could sug­gest he move out al­to­gether, or look into a six-month fur­nished rental dur­ing the sum­mer (when you’re in the house) and then move into your home (rent free) in the win­ter.

Dear Amy: I live 3,000 miles away from my par­ents and have only been able to com­mu­ni­cate with them by phone/video chat dur­ing the coro­n­avirus pan­demic.

Due to age, my par­ents are con­sid­ered to be higher risk. They tell me they are care­ful. Last week, they an­nounced they were go­ing to a beach house with two other cou­ples and planned to visit tourist des­ti­na­tions that were re­open­ing. I begged them to re­con­sider, and their re­sponse was, “We un­der­stand your con­cern and prom­ise to be care­ful.” My sis­ter later learned through mu­tual friends that my par­ents have not been as care­ful as they’ve let on (friends have been in their house, they have had meals with neigh­bors, etc.).

I don’t think they’ve lied to us, but I be­lieve they’ve con­ve­niently with­held de­tails. I don’t know what to do. I’ve shared my con­cern about the con­se­quences of their de­ci­sions. We’re all fa­tigued by this virus, but I want to put my foot down. How do I get through to them?

Dear Up­set: You won’t get through to them. Your par­ents are tak­ing risks, and they know this be­cause they haven’t been hon­est about their choices. You can­not con­trol them from 3,000 miles away. You likely wouldn’t be able to con­trol them from one mile away. This lack of con­trol is a ma­jor stres­sor for fam­ily mem­bers ev­ery­where, and it is a sad­ness you will have to learn to tol­er­ate, while you put your hands to­gether and hope for the best.

Dear Amy: You ran a let­ter from “Won­der­ing,” who asked why liquor stores stayed open dur­ing the coro­n­avirus pan­demic.

As an ad­dic­tio­nol­o­gist, I will tell you that in­di­vid­u­als who quit drink­ing “cold-tur­key” risk the po­ten­tial of se­vere, even life-threat­en­ing, with­drawal. While I doubt this was in the thoughts of the politi­cians who made th­ese de­ci­sions, keep­ing the stores open saved lives.

Dear Charles: Many other read­ers pointed out the risk of al­co­hol with­drawal, and I ap­pre­ci­ate the per­spec­tive and cor­rec­tion.

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