DEAR ABBY: My 43-year-old daughter, “Wendy,” three granddaughters (7, 8 and 11) and son-in-law, “Todd,” have been guests in my house for six months. Last February, Wendy called to say they were being evicted for nonpayment of rent. She said they would be homeless if I didn’t let them come to my home for a while. I agreed to let them be guests in my home for three months, provided she and Todd both got jobs and saved for a rental during that time.
After three months, I reminded them they needed to move into a place of their own. Todd has produced a short film for which he was paid, and Wendy is working in a retail store. At that point I was very tired. I had virtually become a maid in my own home, baby-sitting for them because Todd works out of the area much of the time and Wendy works evenings and weekends. I also do most of the housecleaning and provide transportation for my granddaughters after school.
My daughter told me they had saved no money and couldn’t move. I find it strange, since I haven’t asked for any rent while they have been with me. I agreed they could stay two more months if they would actually save the money they were earning. I also suggested they sell one of their expensive cars, and either manage with one or buy an old one with the cash from the sale, so they wouldn’t have such large payments and insurance.
At the end of that time, they still had done none of the above.
It has now been six months since they moved in. I am not prepared to allow them any more time in my home.
Wendy has become verbally abusive, and I have become extremely nervous. At times I fear for my safety.
Am I being unreasonable in demanding they leave? – FED-UP GRANDMOTHER
DEAR FED-UP: You have been more than generous with your freeloading daughter and her husband. They are taking advantage of your generosity and will continue to do so until you take steps to protect yourself.
I am particularly concerned because you say that the level of hostility in your household is escalating. Please pick up the phone and ask the operator for the number of your nearest area agency on aging. You may need help – and protection – to accomplish the eviction of your daughter and her family, and I urgently advise that you seek it immediately.
DEAR ABBY: My intelligent, wonderful daughter is determined to develop a sense of humor in her own 8-year-old by responding to her queries with, “Are you crazy?” or, “Have you lost your mind?” I think this is detrimental and damaging to the child. Please advise both of us. – ANXIOUS GRANNY IN RENO
DEAR GRANNY: You’re right to be worried. I question not only your “intelligent, wonderful” daughter’s sense of humor, but also her parenting skills, because what she’s doing is hostile. And one has to wonder why she thinks belittling her child will develop anything but distance between them and insecurity in the girl.
How much better it would be if she simply answered her daughter’s questions, and allowed her to develop her own sense of humor by setting an example that demonstrates what humor is. Neither you nor I should have to point out what she’s doing is not funny.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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