DEAR AMY: I am retired. My grown daughter has always held a job and paid her bills on time. Because of the COVID virus, her income has dropped substantially. I offered to pay her rent, and have done so for the past four months. My concern is this: I write the check payable to the landlord of her six-unit building, and she presents it. She has been in the apartment for about three years and he has accommodated her by lowering her rent a little, in exchange for her taking care of the small front yard and shoveling snow in the winter. I'm questioning if he is wondering why the checks are coming from me, and also why he has not deposited any of my checks. I have not told my daughter that the checks have not been processed (and don't plan to tell her). I just don't know if he just has irregular banking practices or if he is deliberately not cashing the checks to give my daughter a very generous, albeit confidential, break for four months. If this is the case, I feel extremely strongly that I should thank him. Should I wait for another two months or so to see if he does finally process the checks, or should I send him a note now, assuming he is being kind and generous?
Confused but Appreciative
DEAR CONFUSED: You are overthinking this by a mile. First of all, your landlord is not going to care who is writing the rent check, as long as it clears. Many people are in the same position your daughter is in, and rent is coming in from unexpected quarters.
You should not keep any of this confidential from your daughter. She is the tenant, she has agreed to this arrangement with you, and she is sending the checks to her landlord.
Or is she? This should be your first question. Her landlord might have offered her a temporary rent amnesty — and she could be "banking" these checks (hanging on to them) to use later. Or — she is sending the checks to him and he is not processing them because he hasn't been to his post box in a long time.
Or — as happened to me once — these checks have landed in that tiny space between his desk and the wall (I thought I had fallen into a magical secret windfall until my landlord suddenly cashed six rent checks at once).
Either way — you should find out what's going on. If the landlord hasn't been receiving payment for her apartment (for whatever reason), this could land her in a jam.
First, ask your daughter. Then confirm with the landlord that he is receiving these checks, and ask him if there is a reason he hasn't cashed them. If it is out of the goodness of his heart, then you can thank him, personally.
DEAR AMY: I have been estranged from my son for about 12 years; he refuses to have any contact with me. This was his decision soon after I divorced his mother. Ironically, a few years after that event, my son was divorced from his first wife. He is now re-married. I learned recently that he and his second wife just had a baby girl, my granddaughter. I am thinking of corresponding with his wife — my daughter-in-law — in order to convince her that I should be able to see my granddaughter. Such attempts could create friction in my son's marriage. Should I try to convince my daughter-in-law that I should be able to see my granddaughter or just drop all attempts and wait for a time that my son might seek reconciliation?
DEAR DAD: You should not attempt to "convince" anyone of anything. You should reach out to your son and his wife in a neutral and positive way to congratulate them on the birth of their child. Share a joyful memory from your son's life: "I'll never forget the joy I felt when I became a dad."
Express a sincere desire to reconcile without pushing too hard.
DEAR AMY: I don't always agree with your advice, but I must admit that I was moved to tears by your answer to "Not Born in the USA," the immigrant who wanted to become more "American." Your diverse cultural examples reminded me of how complicated — and amazing — this country is.
Born in the USA
DEAR BORN: Thank you. I would urge anyone pondering the state of our nation to try to describe it to a new citizen.