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Annie's mailbox: Jobless son wasting his life; Mom passing the buck

Dear Annie: My wife and I have been happy together for 25 years. When her adult son lost his job, we let him move in with us so he could get back on his feet. Three years later, he is no better off than the day he arrived.

"Joe" will find a good job, work for a while and then quit. Sometimes he won't get out of bed until the afternoon. He contributes absolutely nothing toward the bills.

I am angry that we are living paycheck to paycheck because of the extra money we spend to feed and house Joe. He is wasting his life. I've suggested he move in with his father, who lives in another state. My wife says, "If it bothers you, say something to him."

Annie, I resent that she is putting this problem in my hands instead of dealing with it herself. I know it bothers her, too. I want my home back without the extra baggage. What do I do? — Lost in My Own Home

Dear Lost: Your wife is asking you to be the bad guy so she doesn't have to be. We recommend you take her up on it. First make sure you and your wife agree on the message. Then tell Joe you can no longer afford to support him. Insist he get some type of job within two weeks and begin paying a reasonable amount of rent. If he doesn't like it, he is welcome to live elsewhere. Joe should not be able to appeal to Mom for a better deal, so make sure she backs you up.

Dear Annie: I have repeatedly told my daughter to remove her things from my home because we no longer have room for them, but it does no good. We plan on moving soon and cannot take along 10 boxes of our daughter's books and clothes. She lives out of the country and visits two or three times a year. Each time she visits, she buys more than she can possibly take back and leaves the rest here. It is prohibitively expensive to ship boxes of books to her. What do we do? — Out-of-Space Mom

Dear Mom: Notify your daughter that you will pack up her things and put them in a storage facility for six months or until her next visit, whichever comes first. After that, you will stop paying storage fees. She can then decide whether she wants to keep paying the fees herself, ship the items to her current location, sell them or make other arrangements that don't involve you.

Dear Annie: "Might As Well Be Single" said her husband couldn't hold on to a job. Thank you for mentioning the possibility that he is suffering from attention deficit disorder. The fact that he has had many jobs could mean he is making an effort to be employed.

I am 70 years old. I had job and school problems all my life and only recently discovered that I have ADD. I always managed to make a decent living, but might have done a lot better had I known earlier what I was up against. And my wife would have had a happier life. — Wish I'd Known

Dear Wish: ADD was not a realistic diagnosis when you were younger, but we're glad you know now.

Dear Annie: Boy, did I see our family when I read the letter from "Frustrated Mom in Michigan City," whose 14-year-old son doesn't turn in his homework or feed the dog, but spends hours on computer games.

When our son was 14, the computer games seemed harmless. He is 21 now. He dropped out of college and has an entry-level job and no future. I wish we had cut the games off completely when his marks were low. — My Avatar is General Mom

Dear General: Our readers had an interesting mix of responses to that letter, but many recommended unplugging the computer. Read on:

From South Bend, Ind.: My 16-year-old daughter is a high-functioning autistic. She has delusions that she will be a marine biologist, but has to have an assistant simply to keep her on task. Her psychiatrist said she may improve with intense behavioral therapy, but reality will never come close to meshing with her fantasy world. Many of these high-functioning children suffer from ADD to OCD-like behaviors. They seem so intelligent, but they have no common sense. I suggest this mom take her son to their family doctor.

Davenport, Iowa: I would recommend she find a good neurosurgeon and schedule a spine transplant. She should then tell her son he gets one hour per day of gaming, after which he can read a book or throw a Frisbee. There is only one activity that can compete with the allure of computers for teenage boys: a Ping-Pong table with a good stereo next to it.

Chicago: My son was also very bright and absolutely unmotivated to do anything but play computer games. I know now he was addicted. He ballooned to 280 pounds, was irritable, lied about schoolwork and would have spent every minute at his computer eating fast food in his underwear if we had let him. Mom must be in charge of computer access and food. He'll make life a living hell until he knows you won't back down.

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. © Creators.com