DEAR AMY: My daughter is 32 years old and works long hours as a nurse at our local hospital. She has done well by purchasing her own house and car. I have been proud of her accomplishments. About four years ago she entered into a relationship with "Jake." She became pregnant a short time later and Jake quit his job to move in with her. She has a son from a former relationship who also lives with her. After the birth of my granddaughter, I presumed Jake would go back to work. To this day he is still unemployed and not actively seeking work. He spends his days playing video games and drinking beer. He often leaves our granddaughter with his parents while my grandson is in school. This gives him a lot of free time. Jake has expensive tastes and has no problem spending her money. My daughter regularly "borrows" money from me. She asks for small amounts and I can afford it, and I never ask her to repay. I would like to tell my daughter how I feel about Jake. He is lazy and selfish and apparently has no plans to change his life. How should I approach this? Or should I approach it at all? Is this one of those areas where Dad should just butt out?
DEAR DAD: If "Jake" is a good and attentive father and if he keeps the house in decent shape and prepares meals for the family, then he is already earning his keep. However, from your account he is none of these things.
You are an important part of her problem in that you are financially supporting a family system that you obviously disapprove of. She has involved you by asking for money, but Jake is the person you should talk with about Jake. You don't have to call him lazy and selfish, but you could certainly ask him what his plans are for employment.
Your daughter might be so exhausted (or have such low self-esteem) that she believes this is the best she can do. You can be helpful by giving her a pre-paid gas card instead of cash -- then at least you would know she could get to work. The environment you describe does not sound like a healthy one for children to grow up in, and if you believe this, you should tell her so.
DEAR AMY: I am having some issues relating to a childhood friend of mine. She started dating a man the end of last year, and it has been moving pretty fast. We were very close before they started dating, spending time together with our kids every weekend. But since she has been with this man our time together has dwindled to nothing. The weekend of my birthday last month she told me she was going out of town with him, and would make it up to me the following weekend, saying we would have a "girls' night out." It's been a month now and that day has never come. I explained to her that she made me feel unimportant and pushed aside but she continued to tell me that her life is hectic right now. Am I overreacting or am I jealous? I haven't been responding when she sends me messages because I don't know what to say to her. I don't want to throw a lifelong friendship away. Please help!
DEAR NEGLECTED: When a friend finds a life partner, all relationships change. It can be especially challenging on close and exclusive friendships. You are right to tell your friend how you feel, but your next step should be to do what you can to try to get to know her partner. If they are a couple now you will have to adjust your expectations and may have to loop him into your tight circle.
DEAR AMY: I liked your answer to "Feeling Naive," whose boyfriend dropped a bomb on her that he was involved in "open" relationships with other women. Hellooooo: If it's going to be an "open relationship," it should be open for everyone involved!
DEAR RALPH: Yes. Otherwise, it's just good old-fashioned cheating.