Ask Amy: Daughters move home; mom wants out

March 15

DEAR AMY: My husband and I have been married for many years and have two 20-something daughters.

Daughter No. 1 had been living on her own for several years but moved home a few months ago to make some life changes (new career, new relationship) and save money.

Daughter No. 2 moved out a few months ago but recently quit her job and began a new one that she doesn’t like. She does not get along with her roommate and now feels that she would like to go to college.

One option is for her to move home, get a job and attend school. Neither daughter is comfortable discussing their lives with their father, which makes everything that much more difficult, and they have conflicts with each other and each other’s boyfriends.

Each daughter comes to me with her issues and wants me to take sides, and then gets annoyed when I try to see the big picture and make it all work for everyone.

These latest developments are going to be a big headache, and I’m not sure how to deal with things. Sometimes I feel like moving out! Any advice you can send my way? -- Overwhelmed Mom

DEAR MOM: The next time one of these adults comes to you with a life problem, you should ask yourself, “What does this really have to do with me?”

For instance: Daughter No. 1 wants to start a new career and a new relationship and save some money. Daughter No. 2 doesn’t like her job or her roommate. Each daughter lays her problems at your feet.

You say, “That sounds like a challenge. You’ll have to figure it out.” The solution to their problems should not involve you.

I conclude that the reason these adults are (relatively) low-functioning is because you have been functioning for them. The reason they are combative with each other is because you pre-empt, mediate and/or fight their battles for them. They bounce back into their childhood bedrooms because you shoulder some of the consequences for their choices (i.e. support them financially when they want to leave a job and/or don’t like their roommate). They don’t confide in their father because they know they can’t play him.

If you want more of this, then keep doing what you are doing. If you want it to end, see if you are brave enough to watch your daughters flounder for a while without you leaping in to supply all the answers.

DEAR AMY: Recently my only sister’s mother-in-law died after a long illness. I immediately asked my sister for details of a service. She told me the funeral would only be for members of the immediate family, and I was not included.

Amy, this is a woman who has been in our family for more than 30 years, a frequent guest at my home. She is someone I enjoyed and laughed with for many years. Am I wrong to feel slighted? I am dumbstruck by my exclusion.

I have since learned that there was a priest at the funeral parlor and a graveside ceremony. I’m at a loss. I can’t imagine that the family (who share holidays with me) would not have wanted me there. Shouldn’t my sister have been in my corner?

The woman is gone and I can pay respects on my own, but I still have an unhappy memory mixed in with my wonderful memories of her. -- Sad Brother

DEAR BROTHER: You might have received a different answer if you had expressed your condolences directly to your brother-in-law and asked him about services. As it stands, you should write to him now (without mentioning your hurt feelings about the service), expressing your positive memories and sadness at his mother’s passing. This will help you to feel better.

If you feel slighted by your sister, you should tell her.

DEAR AMY: The question from “Puzzled” really got to me. She was holding a grudge because the child of one of her friends hadn’t invited her to her wedding.

Oh, I forgot: a wedding is not about a bride and groom, but about the friends of the parents of the bride and groom. Sheesh! -- Annoyed

DEAR ANNOYED: Sheesh is right! Well said.

Amy’s column appears seven days a week at www.washingtonpost.com/advice. Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2014 by the Chicago Tribune

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