Sunday, May 20, 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
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of May 21-27.

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of May 21-27.

Kendrick Lamar: The Pulitzer Prize-winning hip-hop powerhouse leads The Championship Tour on Tuesday at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa, with fellow hit makers including SZA and Schoolboy Q. $35-$125. amphitheatretampa.com.Tampa Ba...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Tell Me About It: The kids are welcome, but not the bedbugs

Q: My brother and his estranged wife have three children. I love all of them. They live out of state and send the kids to us for summers. There have always been hygiene issues, like not washing after wet beds, leaving faint urine smells on the kids.T...
Published: 05/17/18
Plan your weekend May 18-20: Royal wedding watch parties, David Koechner, Fiesta Maxima, half off Dali admission

Plan your weekend May 18-20: Royal wedding watch parties, David Koechner, Fiesta Maxima, half off Dali admission

What's happening this weekend in Tampa Bay.
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
SeaWorld joins Busch Gardens in offering free beer this summer

SeaWorld joins Busch Gardens in offering free beer this summer

SeaWorld is joining its sister park, Busch Gardens, in offering free cups of beer this summer. Guests 21 and up can receive up to two complimentary 7-ounce beers per visit at Mama’s Pretzel Kitchen Patio in the park starting Friday through Sept. 2. T...
Published: 05/16/18
What’s in theaters: ‘Deadpool 2,’ ‘Book Club,’ a Pope Francis documentary and STEM movies

What’s in theaters: ‘Deadpool 2,’ ‘Book Club,’ a Pope Francis documentary and STEM movies

CinemaSTEM: Best in ShowTampa Theatre is making science, technology, engineering and math the star of its new CinemaSTEM movie series. The historic movie house will pair popular films with experts talking about some of the science that pops up in the...
Published: 05/16/18
Top things to do this weekend: Royal wedding watch parties, comic David Koechner

Top things to do this weekend: Royal wedding watch parties, comic David Koechner

ROYAL WEDDING: Watch partiesPrince Harry marries Meghan Markle on Saturday; guess how excited we are to put on a fancy hat and drink champagne cocktails at 6 a.m.? With royal wedding excitement at a fever pitch, St. Petersburg’s Hawthorne Bottle Shop...
Published: 05/16/18
Top concert picks this week: Little Steven Van Zandt, Turnt Up Tour, Fiesta Maxima

Top concert picks this week: Little Steven Van Zandt, Turnt Up Tour, Fiesta Maxima

E STREET BYPASS: Little Steven and the Disciples of SoulAsk Little Steven Van Zandt to pick his favorite songwriter in rock — excluding his boss Bruce Springsteen, of course — and he has to think a minute. He admires veterans like Billie Joe Armstron...
Published: 05/16/18
5 things to do under $5: Bike to Work Day, Woofstock, Leonard Bernstein celebration

5 things to do under $5: Bike to Work Day, Woofstock, Leonard Bernstein celebration

1Bike to Work Day: If you’re too nervous to face Tampa streets on your own, seven neighborhood meetup locations have been set up in South Tampa, Ybor and Tampa Heights for a Friday morning ride with experienced cyclists. Leaving at about 7:10 a.m., t...
Published: 05/16/18
Kendrick Lamar and the Pulitzer Prize: Here’s why he’s the best songwriter alive

Kendrick Lamar and the Pulitzer Prize: Here’s why he’s the best songwriter alive

He won. He actually won. It’s still hard to believe a month later, still a mouthful of joy to say aloud: "Pulitzer Prize winner Kendrick Lamar." After three Album of the Year Grammy losses in five years, most recently to Bruno Mars in Februar...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/17/18

Tell Me About It: Sons guilt trip parents for refusing to move

Q: My husband and I, 68 and 61, were thrilled to become grandparents two years ago. We are enjoying our first years of carefully planned retirement in our home on the East Coast.The problem is our sons, who live in two of the most expensive real esta...
Published: 05/15/18