DEAR AMY: I am a 36-year-old mother. My daughter, "Stacy," is 18. Her boyfriend, "Brad," is 30. Stacy and Brad have been together for a year. He moved in with us as soon as they started dating. So many factors are frustrating for me. Why did I allow this in the first place? Brad drinks too much, can't hold a job and doesn't contribute financially to the household. But my daughter, who had depression and severe anxiety, is actually happy and doing amazingly well right now. I am done supporting the boyfriend, but my daughter can't understand why I'm frustrated. Can you offer your feedback on my situation?
DEAR DONE: No. You should never have allowed your teen daughter's adult boyfriend to move into your home. But it's a true fact that few families operate according to an ideal blueprint. You may have felt that having him in your home was safer than her perhaps running away and living with him. And you would have been right.
I take it that you believe that Stacy's relief from her depression and anxiety is tied to her boyfriend's presence in the household. If you believe this, then it unfortunately ties both you and your daughter to him. And please don't let Brad be in charge of your life!
Your daughter might be maturing into a more emotionally stable state. At 18, her brain is still developing. She should seek a professional diagnosis and therapy, even though she is feeling well right now.
You should ask her why she thinks she is feeling better lately. What are the most positive aspects of her life right now? Make sure she understands that alcohol use will trigger her depression. Double-check that she is using effective birth control.
A year on, you should create an exit strategy and timeline. And if your money is somehow funding Brad's drinking, then you should figure out how to plug that tap.
For now, provide shelter and food. Never give spending money for any purpose. Your daughter and Brad need to find work, and then (in perhaps six months), if you no longer want them in your household, they will need to move elsewhere. Make sure Stacy knows that you are not punishing her or giving up on her — but that it is time for her to start living her own life — with you in her corner, as always.
DEAR AMY: I live in a six-unit condo building. My neighbors are great, but one lacks courtesy and I don't know how to address it. I own two parking spaces but rarely use the second space. Whenever anyone asks to use it, I always consent. My neighbor "Barbara's" visitors routinely park in my space, sometimes overnight, without asking. Her fiance uses our shared condo basement as his personal workshop, and his stuff is everywhere. I could go on and on. The difficulty is that my neighbor was treated for breast cancer last year, so it is awkward to speak up. Can you help?
DEAR PARKED UPON: You own this parking space. You paid money for it, pay taxes on its value and hold a deed to it. In my adopted home city of Chicago, where parking spots are high-stakes investments, you could probably sublet your space to your neighbors. You are being generous to let people use it.
If you want to be generous toward your ill neighbor, you should either ignore her guests' choice to park there, and tell yourself you're being neighborly and kind, or contact her to say, "I see your guests frequently use my parking space. This is usually fine, but I do need you to ask me in advance. Here's my number; can you make sure to text me? Otherwise, if I can't figure out who is in the space, I might have to call parking enforcement."
Traffic cones placed in the space would be a visual reminder.
Her fiance's usurping the shared basement space also seems unrelated, and is probably an issue for your condo's governing body.
DEAR AMY: You gave a "nice" answer to "Sad Mom," who claimed not to love her older son (a toddler), after she'd had another baby. But hey, no one is forcing her to have children. If she can't handle being a mother of two, she should have thought of that before!
DEAR EXPERIENCED: This mother was in a bad, dark patch. She obviously didn't anticipate this. Judging her so harshly doesn't help her — or her children.