Q: My 21-year-old son, “Evan,” recently moved out to be with his girlfriend. They live in a small apartment and cannot afford a lot beyond the basics, including internet. They spend every moment at my house when they are not working. They use our internet, eat our food and drink our beverages. I know this may sound terrible, but I want my freedom!
I don’t feel I should be obligated to give them free food and internet every day, considering that they show up with new phones and new speakers in their cars. When I try to discuss it with them, they accuse me of being “mean.” They don’t comprehend why I feel taken advantage of.
If they would come to visit with me instead of just hanging around, I’d welcome it. But neither of them hardly speaks to me while they’re here. How do I approach this without making Evan and his girlfriend feel completely unwelcome? — Mom Needing Space in Texas
A: Set some boundaries by telling Evan and his girlfriend a version of what you have written to me. Explain that they’re welcome to come over once a week or twice a month, provided they act like good guests while they’re there. Then describe for them what that means, including staying off the internet and leaving their new cellphones in the car.
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And while you’re at it, don’t forget to mention that gracious guests occasionally invite their hostess OUT for a bite. That’s not being “mean”; it’s explaining the facts of life they seem to have missed while becoming the adults they are.
Q: My 15-year-old granddaughter has always been shy and quiet. Boys at school sometimes approach her to “date.” She likes one really sweet boy who is kind of shy like she is. He held her hand for the first time recently (she was wearing gloves) and she freaked out! Now she walks around with her hands in her pockets when she’s around him.
Why is she so afraid? She can’t relax and just like him. Please tell my daughter and me how to handle this. Does my granddaughter need to see a doctor? — Grandma Peggy
A: The person you should ask about the reason for her extreme reaction after that boy held her hand is your granddaughter. She is either not ready to have a relationship with a boy — not all teens mature at the same rate — or she may not be as into the young man as you think she is.
If she’s comfortable the way she is, don’t push her. If she indicates to you that she’s unhappy, THAT’s the time to enlist the help of a doctor or licensed mental health professional.
Q: Should I be offended that my in-laws set up a college savings fund for my children but didn’t allow me — only my wife — to be an authorized signer on the accounts? I am grateful, but I also feel slighted. Am I wrong to feel the way I do about this situation? — Left Out in California
A: Right or wrong, your feelings are your feelings. If you want to know whether they are valid, while you are thanking them for their generosity, ask your in-laws why they arranged the fund that way.
Write Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.