DEAR AMY: After the death of her father, and then the death of her brother (nine years later), my daughter decided to attend college instead of working in sales and in the food industry. I agreed to support her during her time in college. Now she has two associate degrees (in computers), and she did well. I had to retire during her last year of college (tired!) and was confident she would begin working soon after graduation. It hasn’t happened. She works for $200/month editing for a Ph.D. candidate and does absolutely nothing else. She does not contribute to the household expenses. I admit to being a doormat; I’ve been one all my life and find it hard to change. I shoulder the load, but my resentment grows daily. I’ve tried to have calm talks with her about her life plan, and she assures me she has one. Meanwhile, I see my modest retirement dwindling. I don’t want to have to lose my temper, but I want this 33-year-old millstone off my neck. Any suggestions?
DEAR DOORMAT: Life as a doormat is exhausting. First you have to tolerate all of those boots upon your back, and then you have to relive it all by complaining about it. But over time, your martyrdom doesn’t continue to bathe you in its soft light.
You might flip the script in your household by asking yourself, quite seriously: “What am I so afraid of?”
Is your voice so dangerous that you dare not raise it?
Is your relationship with your daughter so tender that you dare not risk it?
Is your own future so financially secure that you don’t need to take care of yourself?
Your daughter is doing exactly what you have taught her to do.
You’ve had calm talks about her future plans, but evidently she doesn’t bother to share them with you.
You don’t need to lose it, raise your voice, or continue to shovel your retirement savings into supporting a smart, educated and capable adult. You simply need to tell her, “You can do it,” and show her the door.
Give her a deadline to pay market rent for co-housing or move out. I suspect that if you do, her response will be a version of, “Oh. OK. No biggie.” If she rails and flails and acts out in anger, understand that she is afraid, just as you are.
Once you bravely use your voice to declare what you want, you will both be liberated. Eventually, your relationship will become more balanced.
DEAR AMY: My wife and I have friends with full-time jobs and side hustles, and who recently started renting their condo and RV on Airbnb on the weekends. Twice now, they have rented out both their condo and RV at the same time (on purpose, knowing they could make a lot of money), but because they have no place to go for the weekend, they have asked to stay over at our house. They are friends, but not people we hang out with all the time, and it strikes me as rude that they are inviting themselves over, especially when they are making money off it. Not only that, but they have never offered to cook dinner or anything for the inconvenience. We love our friends and have people stay at our house often, but we also treasure our time alone and don’t always enjoy playing hostess. We’ve made up excuses (that aren’t totally lies) for why we couldn’t host them before, but because they keep asking, I feel like I might need to address it head on. What do you think?
DEAR WELCOME MAT: Don’t you want in on this side hustle?
You should basically tell them, “We think it’s so cool that you’re riding the Airbnb train, but we really can’t be your crash pad when you’re double booked. You understand that, right?”
Are you willing to make a little money from this? If so, you could monetize this situation and basically charge them per night. Work out a reasonable cut of their take for the weekend, and pitch this to them.
DEAR AMY: “K” asked for your opinion on “destination weddings.” I thought your declaration that they are “selfish” was outrageous! My daughter had a destination wedding and it was beautiful.
DEAR DISGUSTED: I was asked my opinion. Speaking as someone who once held a destination wedding, in retrospect I do find it selfish. I’m happy your family’s wedding turned out well.