Dear Annie: Our three sons, ages 14, 17 and 20, live with us. The problem is the 20-year-old. "Justin" couldn't keep up the pace of home schooling and bailed out with a GED. This despite my wife's correcting all of his work before submission. He now works two hours a day and feels that's plenty. He gives us lots of lip and attitude and does nothing to help around the house.
My wife refuses to charge him rent. She pays for his car, insurance and cell phone and provides all the meals. Justin's girlfriend moved in for a while until I put an end to that. Plus, I made him stop filching beer from our refrigerator.
My wife says I should calm down and go with the flow. I resent supporting this ungrateful freeloader. Worse, his younger brothers are starting to emulate him. How do I change this? — Father of Freddie the Freeloader
Dear Father: There's not much you can do if Mom insists on undermining your efforts to help your son grow up. The fact that he went for a GED may have been a disappointment to you, but give him credit for finishing his education. However, unless Justin has applied to college, he should have a full-time job and be paying a portion of his salary in rent, preferably at his own place, but certainly at yours if that is where he lives. Try to impress upon your wife that bailing him out, paying for everything he needs and requiring nothing of him in return does him a huge disservice.
Dear Annie: Eleven years ago, when my daughter was 18, she agreed to have her stepmother adopt her. This removed me as the natural mother from her birth certificate. I cannot get over this unforgivable act. I never gave my child up. Every Mother's Day and on her birthday, I cry buckets. I write her letters without mailing them as a way of dealing with the pain. What kind of child does this?
Last year, I loaned this same daughter $4,000 because she couldn't pay her mortgage. Of course, if I hadn't loaned her the money, she would have blamed me for losing her house. But instead of using it for the mortgage, she spent the money on drugs. She recently filed for bankruptcy, and this loan was part of the paperwork. It brought back all the pain from the adoption. Who erases their mother the same way they erase a debt? I called her up and finally told her what I thought and said I was removing her from my will.
I am OK with my decision. If she and the stepmother were to undo the adoption, I would forgive her, but not until then. I hope she sees this in print. — Newport, Wash.
Dear Newport: If your daughter is a drug addict and has been since she was 18, she is doing what is expedient and what allows her to get the drugs she is desperate for. We know this is terribly painful for you, and we hope someday your daughter will see things differently. Meanwhile, please contact Families Anonymous (familiesanonymous.org) at 1-800-736-9805 for additional assistance.
Dear Annie: I would like to respond to "Want My Girls Home," who resented that Grandma wanted the girls to spend a vacation with her.
I have been taking my grandchildren and great-grandchildren on trips for years, from as young as 7 to as old as 18. Not only do they keep me young, but we have a wonderful time getting to know one another. They all feel that they benefit from my wisdom and consider me very wise. Refreshing, isn't it?
Please tell her not to deprive her children of having wonderful adventures and stories to tell their own children someday from all the trips they looked forward to each summer. We're leaving soon with two great-granddaughters, ages 10 and 13, to spend two weeks in Colorado river rafting, horseback riding, hiking and having lots of fun. — Temple, Texas
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