Ask Amy: Boyfriend sleepovers stress household

June 5, 2012

DEAR AMY: I’ve raised my kids for 13 years as a single mom because I want to put my focus on them. Now they’re 21 and 13 and no longer want to do anything together as a family.

I met a man 10 months ago, and we started dating. He spends one or two nights a week at my place when it’s not his turn to have his kids.

My 21-year-old daughter recently moved in with me. We both agreed that her boyfriend can visit but that he can’t spend the night. Well, she did not keep her word and he stays overnight every other day.

When I brought this up, her response was that if my boyfriend stayed overnight, then her boyfriend could stay too. Is it selfish of me to ask that her boyfriend not stay overnight?

She works full time. Her dad pays for car expenses and student loans, and I pay for housing, food, health insurance and other expenses. I have asked her to move out many times, but she has refused. What should I do? -- Paralyzed

DEAR PARALYZED: You still have a 13-year-old at home. I suggest you get back on the ball before this child ends up as disrespectful as his or her older sister.

Your daughter might be staging a passive-aggressive protest about your boyfriend’s presence, but regardless of her motives, the person who pays for the home gets to decide what other adults live (or spend the night) there. If your daughter doesn’t like it, then she should move out.

If you have asked her many times to move out and she outright refuses, then that sounds like a matter for the police. (I certainly hope it doesn’t come to that.)

My sense is that the reason your children no longer want to spend time together as a family is because there is a lot of strife and stress in your household. If your daughter moved out and lived on her own, this stress would decrease substantially.

DEAR AMY: I liked the way you answered the letter from “Feeling Friendless,” who clearly had anxiety and depression and whose friend acted as if he or she had elected to feel exhausted and sad all the time. I really related to this writer.

I put on a happy face around my friends, but I felt comfortable enough to drop the act around my mother. My mother took my depression personally and scolded me for pretending in order to manipulate her to feel sorry for me. After that, the only time I wasn’t pretending to be okay was when I was alone and contemplating suicide.

I wish people would understand that people showing signs of depression don’t need a stern talking to. They need medication, therapy and, most importantly, support. -- Feeling Better

DEAR FEELING BETTER: Therapy and medication help to manage depression. Diet and exercise have an impact. Depression support groups can also help (though it can be hard to get to a group when you’re feeling depressed). But being believed is the first step on the road to feeling better. It is a tremendous relief to feel heard and understood.

DEAR AMY: I take issue with your response to “Frustrated and Disappointed,” who wrote about her friend who wouldn’t throw away her trash at the movie theater.

The movie theater close to our neighborhood currently charges $14 per ticket. Factoring in snacks and drinks, this pushes the cost up to $28.

At this spending level I don’t think it’s unfair to expect some service; and if I don’t feel like getting the empties out from under the seat, it is not an indication of my worth as a friend. If I spend a similar amount on dinner at a restaurant, I also feel no obligation to bus my own table as I depart.

I don’t feel like expecting this service makes me a bad person. -- Peeved Patron

DEAR PEEVED: Some readers agree with you -- but eating with your hands out of a giant cardboard container isn’t exactly the “fine dining” model where one would expect table service.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2012 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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