Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Adult son's lack of ambition is beyond mother's control

Adult son's lack of ambition is beyond mother's control

Q: Since he graduated from college four years ago, my son has been drifting among friends and family but mostly staying with his cousin and his wife. My son is searching for his dream job and shows signs of pursuing that dream but basically doesn't work. I try not to feel ashamed, but it really bothers me.

My brother and sister-in-law always find ways to make comments about the situation. I have pleaded with my son to get a job and get out of my nephew's home, and I have asked my nephew to put my son out. Although he also rails at my son, he won't ask him to leave. It's as though they enjoy taunting us.

I don't have a close relationship with my son because I still "parent" him. I suggest, I gently nudge, I speak outright, etc.

How do I get through holiday gatherings with my chin up? What can I say when someone asks if the cousin is attending an event and my brother responds, "I guess they'll have to bring their 27-year-old kid"?

Bummed Out

A: If it makes you feel better, you aren't alone in your over-involvement in the younger generation's problems — how is this your brother's business?

Let's dissect: Your son is staying with his cousin and job hunting without much conviction; your nephew and his wife are housing your son; you're suggesting, speaking outright, pleading, etc.; your brother and sister-in-law are commenting and taunting.

By my count, the youngers are the ones doing, and the elders are merely talking.

As adults themselves, your son and nephew are free to perpetuate this awkward residential farce as long as their taste for it endures.

You, too, are free to keep talking — but nothing you and your brother say is making any difference, except to keep the bad feelings in constant circulation.

To stay cool through holiday harping, keep this chain of responsibility in mind: You aren't your son, don't control your son, can't re-raise your son, and can't change how anyone deals with your son. So when anyone tries to use him against you, make the point firmly that no matter how hard you pull the strings, your son's arms don't move.

And when the snark flies, consider not responding at all, except maybe to have a cookie and ask yourself whether it's really necessary to spend your holidays with such punitive people. Nothing says you must.

Correcting couple's rude kids is worth risk to the friendship

Q: My husband and I have two adolescent children and we are good friends with a couple who also have two adolescent kids. We consider their children extremely rude, entitled and very disrespectful of their own parents and, over the years, to us as well.

Last night at our house, while having dinner, the daughter told her dad to "shut up." Nothing was said by either parent. This is just the latest misbehavior that my own children witnessed.

I feel as if we could never reprimand their kids without jeopardizing our friendship. We really enjoy the parents' company and try to minimize contact with their kids. Is it ever okay to say something to the kids? Only if they directly insult or disrespect us?

Anonymous

A: We all make calculations (or should) before speaking up about other people's behavior, about the severity of the problem, the efficacy of addressing it, the standing we have to intervene, and the possible unintended consequences of stepping in.

Arguments in favor of correcting these kids: You have standing to ask for certain behavior in your home, of adults and children both. You probably also would be an effective voice for civility, since it can be startling to get a wrist-slap from an unexpected source.

Arguments against: Anything your kids witness now is a talking point later, so corruption is a non-issue. It's also hard to believe you can reverse these kids' slide toward entitlement — but it's easy to envision your damaging the friendship with the adults. Even the parents who are grateful for village discipline tend to bristle at it when they're present to do the job themselves.

But there's also this: Biting your tongue just to keep these friends strikes me as a cop-out, a what's-in-it-for-me? expediency when there's a question of right and wrong to be answered. "Shut up" is so hostile and so inappropriate, and your dinner table is so plainly your turf, that I believe it would have been worth the friendship risk to say, calmly, "Stella, I ask that you don't use that expression at our table. Thank you."

Comments

Tell Me About It: Play up challenged child’s strengths

Q: One of my children has a challenging personality. Within my family, we are aware of it, and deal with it, and love him oh-so-much. As he is getting older, I can see how the outside world (teachers, coaches, neighbors) favors him less than my other...
Published: 02/20/18

Tell Me About It: DNA results reveal 52-year-old secret

Q: I am in the middle of a growing crisis in my extended family because of revelations from a DNA match. After getting my results, I was contacted by a woman looking for her biological family. It quickly became apparent she was the child my sister ga...
Published: 02/20/18

Tell Me About It: Don’t expect help from careless grandma

Q: My mother moved to be closer to us when we had a baby, who’s now 2. She’s not responsible with him. She gives him anything he points to and grunts. Just in the past month, this has included a lighter ("He doesn’t know how to use it"), garden shear...
Published: 02/19/18
Ordinary dogs take to the Derby Lane greyhound track for the Mutt Derby

Ordinary dogs take to the Derby Lane greyhound track for the Mutt Derby

Some stopped midway, some turned around and ran the wrong way and some dashed to the arms of their owners as more than 300 average house pets took to the track at Derby Lane on Sunday for the Mutt Derby. The popular fundraiser for the Jaycees died o...
Published: 02/18/18

Tell Me About It: Doubts creep in to six-year relationship

Q: I have been with my partner for six years and have just graduated from college. I love my partner and could see myself happily married to them for the long haul. However, I am beginning to feel wistful about never having dated anyone else — or kis...
Published: 02/18/18

Tell Me About It: Vacation opens dialogue about money

Vacation opens dialogue about moneyQ: My girlfriend and I just went on our first vacation together. I thought it went well, but after we were home she told me she felt I had been cheap because I wanted to split all costs 50-50.I think cheap would be ...
Published: 02/16/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of Feb. 19-25

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of Feb. 19-25

Gasparilla Distance Classic: One of Tampa’s best known road races returns to downtown, with a 5K and 15K Saturday and an 8K and half marathon on Sunday. The chief attraction is the 15K on Saturday, which takes runners out and back along the man...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/18/18
Dance Moms star Chloe Lukasiak to appear at Florida State Fair on Saturday

Dance Moms star Chloe Lukasiak to appear at Florida State Fair on Saturday

TAMPA — Chloe Lukasiak will take on a different role than she is accustomed when she stops by the Florida State Fair this weekend.After all, the 16-year-old Pennsylvania-native and resident rose to fame on Seasons 1 through 4 of Lifetime’s reality te...
Published: 02/15/18

Tell Me About It: Past eating disorder affects food choices

Q: My wife refuses to change her diet and grocery shopping to accommodate my health needs and those of our kids. Everything she gets is processed grains and sugar. My doctor recently recommended losing weight, and exercise won’t cut it. But because s...
Published: 02/15/18
Top things to do this weekend: Florida State Fair, Mutt Derby at Derby Lane

Top things to do this weekend: Florida State Fair, Mutt Derby at Derby Lane

GO, DOG, GO: Mutt DerbyOne of the most hilarious days at the races is Sunday, when ordinary house pets get a chance to run on the Derby Lane greyhound track. Mutt Derby registration begins at 11 a.m., but you can register in advance at greyhoundpets...
Published: 02/14/18