Grumpy old roommates

From a reader: “Due to unforeseen economic twists and turns, I am a 40-something man living again with my father.

“Other than my bruised ego and battered social life, this situation is not so bad. I work full-time and pay my share of the bills. Honestly, it is a nice chance to spend time with my dad and get to know him in ways that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

“I am having a hard time, though, living with Negative Nancy. Just a simple ‘How was your day?’ always leads to how mad the traffic made him, how much he had to pay for groceries or how the bugs won’t stay out of his drink when he relaxes on the back porch. He immediately sees and talks about the negative aspect of any situation. It is driving me nuts.

“I know as men grow older (he is in his early 70’s) they grow grumpier. But this is ruining an otherwise positive experience. What can I say or do to turn the always-dark conversation into something lighthearted and fun? I’m afraid if I call him out on his bleak outlook, then he will find a way to turn it into my being critical — or he’ll just say, ‘I don’t do that.’”

So, how do you lighten things up without lecturing?

— Carolyn Hax

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