Jan. 14 Short Answers
Paula Forman and Jeff Johnson
Sunday, January 14, 2018
Dear Short Answers: My parents are getting older and need more and more attention. They refuse to move into an assisted-living facility and seem to expect their children (there are three of us) to help out with things around the house, running errands and taking them to the doctor. Where does my responsibility as an adult child end and their responsibility to take care of themselves begin? — Struggling
Dear Struggling: Every family crosses these bridges. Kids helping out and assisted living are only two of a variety of options. You need to decide what you are prepared to do and discuss your decision with your siblings. Perhaps hiring a non-family person for a few hours a week would be a relief right now, but these issues get worse over time, and it makes sense to have a plan based on finances, willingness of family to participate in care and your parents’ wishes. It is almost always a difficult discussion that reveals many past resentments, but talking about it is the only reasonable way to proceed.
NO ONE LOVES A WHINER
Dear Short Answers: I have a lot of women friends in their 40s constantly complaining that they can’t keep their house warm, or manage their money, take care of their kids or cars, too broke to buy food but too lazy to start a garden, on and on. I just don’t get it. Should I ever say how I feel about this or just back away from these types of friendships? — Silent Sufferer
Dear SS: Go with your instincts; if you want to say “Get yourself together, girl,” we understand. If you want to say, “Oh, poor darling, sorry you made unfortunate choices,” that’s OK, too. Or, if you feel like putting in the time, say “What part of your problem would you like to work on?”
FLY, BABY, FLY
Dear Short Answers: What’s the right age to put your foot down and kick the kids out of the house? My husband and I want our home back! — Long Suffering Mom
Dear LSM: In our experience, adult children living with parents has as many negatives as positives, so you just might be doing your kids a favor by kicking them out of the nest. There is no right age but anything over 21 seems OK to us.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Dear Short Answers: I accidentally sent a dinner party invitation to a husband and wife who I haven’t seen in several months. It was only after I had sent the invitation that I found out that the husband had died about two months ago. The wife has not responded to my invitation and I’m wondering whether I should call her to apologize (which will only reinforce my insensitivity) or just ignore the matter altogether. — Meant No Harm
Dear MNH: Write another note or an email saying you were unaware of her loss, but that you hope she will join you at the dinner party.
TIME WILL TELL
Dear Short Answers: How do you truly, deeply, honestly, absolutely know if you are marrying the right person? — Longing for Certainty
Dear Longing: Today, hard to say. In 20 years, you will know for sure.
Life is complicated. “Short Answers” isn’t. Send a question about whatever is bothering you to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.shortanswers.net and a psychologist and sociologist will answer. A selection of the best questions will be printed every Sunday in The Daily Reflector.