DEAR AMY: My daughter, who is 40, and her daughter, age 10, have been living with me for the past couple of years. My daughter has a very good and demanding job, so I do all the cooking, shopping and housework, work at my granddaughter’s school, etc. My daughter has ADHD and is very disorganized. She has always had terrible taste in men. Despite being bright, beautiful and educated, she seems to choose men no one else would ever want. A year ago she fell in love with a man who camps on a piece of property. He rarely bathes, his property is covered in trash and he grows pot on his land. My daughter is planning on moving to this property when it is cleaned up. I am very concerned about the influence this will have on my granddaughter. She doesn’t like this man, and has no desire to move there. Any thoughts on what I can do?
DEAR MOM: You can’t legally control your adult daughter’s choices, and so your efforts should be geared toward your granddaughter’s needs. Try not to panic, and try not to make any particular assumptions about what choice your daughter might make. Say to her, “You’re an adult, and you’re a parent. You must always put your daughter’s needs first.”
You might choose to consult with a lawyer specializing in custody issues and family law to see what you can do for your granddaughter, if your daughter makes the choice to move into a home that is patently unfit for her. Always advocate for your granddaughter.
DEAR AMY: We plan to host a neighborhood drop in. Two of the couples we want to invite despise each other, the husbands having almost come to blows once in the past. We like these couples and want to include both, but do not want to play the role of referee at our party. Any ideas?
In the Middle
DEAR IN THE MIDDLE: You should tell both couples that you have an open household and that you will not choose between them, and that you will not let their challenges reconfigure your open hospitality. They may each independently choose to stay away, or one couple may leave if they see the other couple there.
For now, assume that if they both attend, they will make an effort to avoid one another. If there is a problem at your home, don’t mediate. Simply ask them to leave.
DEAR AMY: For the umpteenth time, I’ve read one of your columns about how best to deal with issues arising from Facebook postings and the like, and yet not once have I seen a response suggesting that perhaps people should try weaning themselves from social media rather than attaching so much importance to it. You tend to address the symptoms of the problem without ever going to the core issue: people are engaging in addictive behavior by basing their entire worth on something as silly as Facebook. I would have expected more from you.
Ralph Blessing, Washington, D.C.
DEAR RALPH: I agree with you that engagement through social media can mimic (or actually be) addictive. I also agree with you that weaning oneself from this engagement has very positive effects. On three occasions, I have deleted social media apps from my phone, extremely and deliberately curtailing my own use. Going through the day without receiving these ongoing triggers is extremely liberating (although I have had to find another way to entertain myself while commuting on the bus). After several weeks, I have re-engaged, but if my social media use becomes too frequent, or creates relationship problems (or free-floating rage), I unplug again.
However, I also acknowledge that social media serves as an important connector between human beings, and this connection has more positive than negative aspects — as long as people manage their own use. I value the relationships I’ve made on social media. Some of these relationships are reconnections with faraway family members, friends from childhood or colleagues from previous careers, but many are with people who I will never meet personally. Two or three times, I have met people through social media and have gone on to have “real world” friendships. Social media can connect people whose lives are limited and who need — and receive — support from people they will never meet personally, but become friends with, nonetheless. It is important to be as intentional about virtual relationships as any other relationship.