Just Say No
Dear Margo: I have no idea how it happened, but we’ve made a mess of raising our 18-year-old (although his older brother turned out fine). Up until a few years ago, we were very middle class people. My husband and I worked hard, paid our bills, got by with older cars, and saved for the kids’ college educations and our retirement. Fortunately, a few years ago, my husband’s career took off, and we could buy more luxuries, take nice family vacations, etc.
Suddenly, our younger son thinks we’re the Rockefellers. He’s become impossible, demanding money to go places, and when we say no, he becomes verbally abusive. Because he was too lazy during high school (despite having a high I.Q.), he couldn’t get into a decent college, so he goes to community college (where he is doing very well). Now he is furious because we were planning on giving him his father’s car rather than buying the $30,000 number he has his eye on. Oh, and his very part-time job does not even pay enough to cover gas, let alone insurance.
I know we could just turn off the cash, but at 18, I fear the damage has already been done. Will he ever have a clue, or will he be living with us, mooching off of us and demanding cash from us for the rest of our lives? –Hardly the Rockefellers
Dear Hard: He will not be living with you, mooching and demanding cash if you don’t permit it. You and your husband need to have a sit-down with young Rockefeller and point out that his being 18 means you are no longer legally obligated to offer him room and board, an education, transportation, etc. Explain that an attitude adjustment is not only in order, but mandatory. Tell him the verbal abuse will no longer be tolerated, and if he expects to have any kind of a good life, he will have to do some serious work on his thinking and behavior.
Some damage may have been done by your aversion to saying “no,” but it’s not too late to scare him into acceptable behavior by not rewarding his demands by caving in. You have the power — not he. –Margo, strictly
When the Stories Don’t Quite Match Up
Dear Margo: My significant other and I have been participating in the protests that are in the news. On the day he went to man the booth at noon, we planned that I would join him at 3:00. He was not there. I called his cell many times, but the calls went straight to voicemail. I went home. At 6:15, he finally called and said he was home. I went to his place and questioned him about the circumstances. He said the battery in his phone died and he was at the booth for six hours without leaving it. (That in itself is unusual because he constantly has to visit the bathroom; plus, he wasn’t there at 3:00.) I was very upset and left, telling him I needed to go for a walk to calm down.
A few days later, we were talking with friends of his who said they had been there the same day and visited the booth, but they didn’t see him, either. I think he is lying about something, and it bothers me. I don’t know how to handle this. Please help me cope, move beyond it, or whatever. –Stuck in a Bad Place
Dear Stuck: You are clearly at an impasse with your S.O. when it comes to clearing up the mystery. I think of the old joke, “That’s one…” If a mysterious disappearance happens again, or if you have any inkling that he’s not leveling with you, then you can start to think seriously about whether you wish to continue with a guy whose word doesn’t mean anything. See where things go moving forward, and put the relationship on probation — without announcing that, of course. Time is your friend. –Margo, pragmatically
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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to email@example.com. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.
COPYRIGHT 2011 MARGO HOWARD
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