DEAR ABBY: Mother has second thoughts on decisions made for sons


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DEAR ABBY: My husband and I moved near the ocean last year. I have two sons, 21 and 17. My older son moved across the country with some friends. The younger son, “Cody,” chose at the last minute to stay with his dad.

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Abby, it has been awful. Cody dropped out of high school and did not keep up with his home-school work. He quit his jobs, and he’s on depression medication. This week, both boys moved where I am. My house is small, so I got them an apartment in my name. The landlord thinks I’m going to be living there.

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My question is, how often should I go there and clean, make dinner and visit? I feel like I’ll want to be there all the time — before work, after work and on weekends. My husband thinks I should back off, but Cody is only 17 and going through a lot.

They moved into the apartment today, so this is still new. Also, is it crazy that I paid to put them in their own apartment? I felt like it was an OK choice since our house is so small. They both are planning to get jobs, and the younger one wants to start college classes. But they’re lazy and messy, and I feel like I need to step in to help more. Any suggestions? — MOM OF BOYS IN CALIFORNIA

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DEAR MOM: Your older son is an adult. Your younger one is on the verge of becoming one. It’s time for both to learn the skills they need to take care of themselves. Going there every day to cook, clean, do laundry and visit would be counterproductive to teaching them how to become independent.

If your older son has a job, he should contribute to the rent and groceries. Your younger son will never get into college if he doesn’t do the homework he’s ignoring. Having a small home doesn’t mean he couldn’t live with you until he establishes a healthy routine. Although it’s tempting, please do not deprive them of this learning opportunity.

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DEAR ABBY: I have a brother-in-law I have no contact with because he is jealous of my success and has made violent threats toward me. Every holiday and family function, when my mom asks me to attend, I ask if “Mr. Violent” is going to be there. Her answer is always, “I can’t tell him he is not invited.”

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It always turns out that my wife and kids attend, and I go either to work or to a bar to watch sports because I don’t want to be around this person whom I cannot stand. Any advice on how I should handle this? I am considering moving far away from my family. — LOATHING IN FLORIDA

DEAR LOATHING: Your brother-in-law’s jealousy is his problem; you have made it yours. That was a mistake. If an alcohol or drug problem has caused his threats of violence, your entire family should be urging him to get into treatment. If he has actually acted out, the police should have been called to discourage it from happening again.

Moving may be an expensive solution to your in-law problem. A more practical one might be to accept that you will never have a close relationship with this brother-in-law, allow him to “enjoy” his jealousy and pretty much ignore him.

— Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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