Q. My 30-year-old son returned to live at home from several states away.
He has a college degree, is handsome, charming, and quick-witted.
His former position with a well-known insurance company ended when the contract ran out.
Initially I thought he would be living at home for two or three weeks, but we have now hit 12 weeks.
I am getting frustrated, as he seems to have become very comfortable with not really doing much to help around the house, and not helping with utilities.
He is going to interviews often, but hasn’t been offered a position yet.
We have always been very close, but this has put a wedge between us.
I am also raising my 12-year-old grandson, and have my elderly parents here. My plate is full.
I don’t want another person to take care of, and I know he doesn’t want me to feel that way, but ... I do.
Can you offer advice on how to approach the subject of helping to pay the utilities and helping at home, without an attitude?
A. Your son is a functioning adult. Obviously, you have every right to expect him to step up at home. But your inability to ask him to step up is your own problem — not his.
There is no “attitude” involved in communicating your needs clearly. You speak to him adult-to-adult, and expect him to understand and do what he can to comply.
It is not unusual in the current job climate to spend several months interviewing at various companies for a professional position. You should assume that this is a potentially lengthy process.
Have a meeting with your son. Say, “Here’s what I need from you in order for this to work, longer term.” Surely there are ways he can help with your grandson and your parents. Assign regular and reasonable tasks that will help to relieve your burden.
If he is receiving unemployment insurance or has savings, he should pay toward living expenses while he is with you. If he doesn’t have income or savings, he should also look for a part-time job in order to help with the bills while he is living with you.
Q. I’m responding to the question from “Kathy in Colorado,” who was shocked when she and her friend were asked to vacate their table at a cafe to make room for other customers.
When we retired a few years ago, my husband and I started taking trips. We often stop for coffee in small towns.
In one cute little Vermont college town, a well-frequented cafe had signs above the tables, basically saying: “Please use for up to two hours” or “Please stay no longer than 30 minutes” — something to that effect.
We were in this town for several days, and noticed people engaged in what seemed to be lengthy conversations, or studying with their laptops at the “long-use” tables, while others enjoyed coffee and bagels at the “short” ones.
The cafe owners were smart — they had their long-use tables in the front window, so it seemed that it was a busy place (even when the rest of the place might be relatively empty).
In small Iowa towns, a large, round, re-purposed wooden dining-room table is frequented by the “regulars,” with chairs pulled up as needed. There are smaller booths or tables as well.
It is so fun visiting these small towns — strangers are immediately spotted, and if we tell them we are taking tombstone pictures, pretty soon we hear stories of local tiny cemeteries and old pioneer times.
When we’re home, we read your column in Blair, Nebraska.
A. Like you, I have an abiding love of small towns. (I currently live in the town where I grew up, which has a population of 540). I like the solution these cafes have arrived at regarding “long-use” tables, and enjoy picturing old friends gathering and sipping their coffee. This probably wouldn’t work in higher-volume restaurants, which is one more reason to stay small and local.
Regarding your fascinating hobby of photographing tombstones — what a wonderful way to discover and chronicle history!
Q. Hooray for your practical and wise answer to “A Lot to Handle,” the parents who were basically enabling their adult son’s drug addiction. It is so hard to detach from another’s addiction, while still remaining concerned and involved.
A. Concerned family members need to make a choice to lovingly detach, and to only support recovery.Amy Dickinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.