Dear Amy: I am a separated, 63-year-old retiree. My 29-year-old daughter lives at home. She has a half-sister and a father she doesn’t see very often (her preference).
I am having a very difficult time navigating retirement with my adult child living at home. She pays no rent and offers no help, other than buying her own food and paying for her cellphone, car loan, and insurance.
She has had a series of jobs, but lost the most recent one due to the COVID-19 emergency.
She lives on the couch, watching reality TV. At least when she was working, she was out of the house all day. Her room looks like a tornado went through it. It’s like living with a 15-year-old.
I’m not allowed to complain because then I am “mean.”
She has a lot of anxiety and so I find myself staying quiet. When I have mentioned her moving out, she says she looked at apartment rentals every day (when she was working), but couldn’t find anything she liked, and she won’t settle for anything less.
I grew up during a time when we couldn’t wait to move out of our parents’ home. I lived in a number of crappy apartments.
I feel taken advantage of and don’t know how to move things forward.
I live in fear of provoking panic attacks, so I stay out of her way.
I have visions of her living here for the rest of my life, which terrifies me.
Any advice? — Scared
Dear Scared: The reason your daughter is still living with you, even though it is not what you want, is because you are too scared to be called “mean.” And so, from her perch on the couch, looking for (but never finding) the perfect apartment, she has you right where she wants you.
If she has panic attacks, she should seek professional treatment for her anxiety. If she is experiencing fear-based tantrums, she is proving that she is a lot like her mother: Too scared to change.
When you start treating your daughter like an adult, she will be forced to become one. This is a process that can be exceedingly bumpy and painful to witness. When you were young, your parents didn’t witness your struggles, mistakes and missteps (or your messy room) because you didn’t live with them.
Your household needs to develop an action plan. YOU can set the agenda. The goal? She gets a job, and she moves out. She can spend these next few months working on it. In the meantime, you should split the household duties down the middle and prompt her - every single day, to do her part. See the broken record? BE the broken record.
And then you should hang in there through the panic, acting out, tantrums, and rages - and plant yourself in your daughter’s corner — without fleeing, avoiding, or worrying about how mean you are.
If she proves unable or unwilling to exert herself, perhaps she could camp with her father.
Dear Amy: Please settle a dispute. If two friends are speaking on the telephone and one of them is using a speakerphone, does common courtesy dictate that that fact be made known at the beginning of a conversation? — A Concerned Caller
Dear Caller: Yes; at the outset of the conversation, the person who is using speakerphone should announce, “I’m letting you know — I’ve got you on speaker.”
Additionally, if anyone else is present (if the speakerphone user is in the car, for instance), that should also be made clear: “I’ve got you on speaker and Emily is here with me.”
“Common courtesy” involves using common sense.
Dear Amy: Your advice to “Quarantine Nagging Nellie” about the COVID risk from her neighbor’s Easter party was beyond terrible. Someday, you are going to get somebody killed. — Disgusted
Dear Disgusted: I broke down this question into two parts: the potential risk to “Nellie” and her family, and the issue of neighbors violating their local shelter-in-place guidelines.
Using CDC guidelines, I stated that — given the typical distance between two backyards, I believed the risk of exposure to COVID for Nellie and her family would be “minimal, if not nonexistent.”
This social gathering creates other risks, however, as I pointed out, suggesting that she could call her local tip line if she saw these neighbors hosting another party.
I fail to see what about this is dangerous, but I also understand that we are all nervous right now.