DEAR AMY: I have a niece who lives with me. She is 22 years old, and she is the laziest person ever. She is manipulative, jealous, self-centered, dirty, lazy, a liar, a user, and she basically thinks the world revolves around her. Her mom has convinced her that she is a princess. I don’t know what to say or do about it, but her living with me is a pain in the neck. I have my own three kids to pick up after, a house to clean, a husband to care for, and this young woman is living here for free. She won’t even clean a dish! What can I do?
Had it Aunt
DEAR AUNT: You don’t provide any backstory, or say how or why this niece landed in your home, and so my answer is very straightforward.
Given your obvious and extreme dislike for your niece, and the fact that this is your home, it is not good for either of you to cohabit.
I don’t know if your husband has imposed this presence on you, or why you seem to lack the power to control who lives with you, but the obvious answer is to give your niece a move-out date with a little boot behind it.
The fact that you don’t know what to say or do about this makes you seem powerless in your own household, but if you are the adult who cooks, cleans, and manages the household, then you may have more power than you think.
You seem quite passive in terms of your expectations for your various family members. You are not a maid. You are a mom. There is a difference. You just need to realize it and be brave enough to say, calmly, “This isn’t working. It’s time for you to find another place to live.”
If your niece really is a manipulative mastermind, she will find somewhere else to light. This should not be your problem, but her mother might get involved.
DEAR AMY: I am 55 and have cancer that can be treated but not cured. I am a single mom with two girls in their late teens. My mother is 85 and very independent. She is a mother who says “I love you” regularly, but has a hard time showing it. Since my illness, she has continued her inaction, and it hurts very much. She appears disconnected to the whole issue and just doesn’t seem capable of being there in any sense of the word. She does pay for medical expenses I incur, so it seems that maybe she thinks this is enough. Having cancer is a very difficult and lonely illness and especially because I don’t have a husband any longer, it would be nice to have a mom on my side. I have told her I feel unsupported by her but nothing changes. How do I come to grips with this and stop feeling so hurt?
DEAR NEEDAMOM: I’m very sorry you are going through this. It is natural during this sort of stressful, life-changing challenge to want more from your family members. However, I think it is unrealistic to expect your 85-year-old mother to dig deep, manage her own anxiety, and give you more support.
In order for you to come to grips with her behavior, it might help you to try to understand this situation from her point of view. Surely she is very worried about you. Exposing herself too closely to your illness and prognosis may simply be more than she can handle.
You have already expressed your disappointment. I hope you have also expressed your gratitude for her financial support.
You might receive more of what you want if you can give her a tangible task, such as accompanying you to treatment, or helping to provide cheerful emotional companionship to your daughters while you are at appointments, or unwell.
Please seek the help of a support group; your peers in illness and wellness will understand more fully what you might need right now. Check with your hospital, cancer.org or your local cancer resource center for groups you might join.
DEAR AMY: I wanted to weigh in with an idea for “Want to be my Own Magic Wand,” concerning how to battle inertia at home. The way I do it is to promise myself small rewards, once I’ve completed a chore. For instance, I’ll watch a favorite movie after I’ve cleaned the kitchen.
DEAR ALSO: I sometimes play a favorite movie while I’m cleaning.