DEAR AMY: I am 55 and my significant other is 56. We are both divorced and have children from our previous marriages. I have a son and a daughter; she has a son and two daughters. They are all young adults. We’ve lived together for about three years. Her 23-year-old son lives with us. He is a great kid with a few anxiety issues (according to his mother). He spends a lot of time with his girlfriend at her house, and when he does not sleep at our house his mom will bring his lunch to work for him. She makes his lunch every day. I don’t really mind this — I just want your opinion about whether this may keep him from being independent. She does everything for him. She cleans his room, does his laundry and picks up after him. We do not ask him to do chores or charge him rent. I brought this up and she said she was raised to help family. I always helped with chores growing up. I don’t mind helping him and want him to be successful. Should I ignore this and let Mom do what moms do, or should I make it an issue? Would I be asking too much to give him a timeline to when he starts helping with a little room and board or some other responsibilities around the house? He does pay his own bills. He also works close to 40 hours a week. I work full time and pay all utilities and taxes. She works part time and pays for food, and she cooks and cleans. She has girlfriends who comment to her, “Oh, that’s so nice.” Should I feel the same?
DEAR BOTHERED: Reading between the lines, my sense is that your partner is babying her son in a way that she did not baby her daughters (you don’t mention her treatment of her daughters, so I’m making an assumption). Basically, I’m picturing an “Everybody Loves Raymond” situation where mom expresses her love through excessive caretaking.
My own view is that this tends to retard some very important life skills that all adults should possess: the ability to keep his space clean, take care of his own clothing and cook a meal or two.
However, the eternal stepparents’ burden is to accept the way other people parent their children, while trying to exert some influence when your own instincts are different.
Questions to answer in your household are: Does this young man have a life plan? Does he have a goal to live on his own?
You are a full partner in this household, and you have a right to ask this young adult to contribute.
Ideally, you three would sit down together and ask this son about his larger goals. I think asking for a modest rent is not only reasonable, but will help him to budget and adjust his income, spending and saving. If mom needs to wait on him while he lives at home, and if she continues to enjoy it, and if he is respectful and responsible, then you should let that part go.
DEAR AMY: I just received and invitation to a destination wedding (my godchild). This will put a hardship on me, with transportation, hotel and meals, plus a gift. I think it is rude to have a destination wedding. This puts guests in an awkward position. They need to face the hardship of attending, or just stay home and feel sad. I am on a very limited income and just can’t afford this. What is your opinion on destination weddings?
DEAR K: Most weddings are a destination wedding for some (out of town) guests, but true “destination weddings,” where the couple chooses a spot mutually unavailable to all guests, put a significant burden on people. Some couples choose destination weddings because they are blind to the burden (or simply don’t care); others choose destination weddings because they don’t actually want all of their guests to attend.
I had a destination wedding many years ago. At the time it seemed like a dreamy escape. My perspective on this now is that it was fairly selfish.
DEAR AMY: I normally don’t like your advice, but for once I agreed with you when you told “Neighborly” that they should not out their trans friend, “Susan,” to the gentleman who was romantically interested in her. People need to mind their own business!
DEAR READER: I’m glad I got this one right (in your opinion).