Son Doesn’t Shine

21 Jul

Dear LetterBalm: My son is 27 and difficult to get along with. He thinks he knows more than everyone else, and he’s been like this most of his life. His father and I have been amicably divorced for years, and he alerted me that our son wants to move back to our town and divide his time between the two of us. He earned good money working in oil in Alaska, and he’s been living off that. He hasn’t looked for another job; he says he doesn’t want to work for anybody anymore. He has told his father that he doesn’t expect to pay rent, that because we’re family we should accommodate him. His ordering us around and his open-ended lack of planning don’t sit well with us. I don’t want him living with me, and neither does his dad. This could get really nasty. What do we do?

–Worried Mom

Since you and your ex-husband have a cordial relationship and are the grownups in this situation, talk with him and see where you are in agreement about your son’s living arrangements. If you present a united front, you will more easily bring your son in line. You must make it clear that it is absolutely unacceptable that he live with either of you, even if it’s temporary and even if you can coax rent out of him. Ms. L.B. says that once he’s ensconced, you’ll need a crowbar to get him out. And, he’ll be a horrid tenant in the meantime. Life is too short. Brush up on your persuasive skills and try this with your ex:

Herb, we need to have a serious talk about Norbert. Do you agree that he absolutely can’t stay with either of us, even if it’s temporary and even if we can coax him to pay rent? It would be a very bad decision. He’d be a disagreeable tenant and we’d get really stressed out. And, getting him to leave would be a nightmare. He wouldn’t leave because he’d have a cushy thing going. He can’t stay with either of us, even for a day or two. He needs to find an affordable apartment and look for work. And, even if he finds a job, he can’t bunk in our homes. I think you and I have to present a united front before Norbert arrives. Can we talk about what we’ll say to him before he gets here, so he knows what’s what? He’ll be furious with us, but we have to risk that.

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