Dear Annie: Wanting to support independence
My youngest is set to move out of the family home in the next month or two. We don’t mind her living at home, but she needs to move out for her own peace of mind, so she can have her own space and start to live independently. She’s 22. In the past -- and still -- she has often asked for money so that she can make important payments (for example, college tuition, car insurance). But more often than not, she uses the money I give her to buy frivolous, in-the-moment wants. She has two jobs, so I know she’ll be able to afford rent -- if she keeps up the hard work and doesn’t fall into laziness. She has a habit of getting a new job, getting really excited about it for a few weeks to a few months and then seemingly getting bored. Then the new job fizzles out and she moves on.
I want her to make this move and live on her own successfully and truly independently. I think she needs it. I think it’ll help her grow. But I’m foreseeing her asking me for rent money — I’m in a tough financial spot at the moment — and I won’t be able to say no. She’s my kid. I want her to know I’m always on her side, that I’ve got her back no matter what. She’s had a rough life. How do I balance this nurturing impulse with letting her learn some big lessons on her own? — Distressed About Departing Dependent
Dear Distressed: Good parenting means sometimes being the bad guy. You can offer her support in ways that aren’t monetary, such as talking through her goals and helping her to figure out what career path she might be interested in. But if she asks for cash, tell her no, and stick to it — not just for your own financial health but for hers. Baby birds don’t learn to fly until they’re kicked out of the nest, and young adults don’t truly learn responsibility until their livelihoods depend on it. Rest assured that ultimately, she will look back and know that you were always on her side.
Dear Annie: I read your column almost every day and have often wondered why you never mention Families Anonymous when responding to a family member or friend of someone is has an addiction issue. This organization helped me enormously when I was trying to cope with my daughter’s addiction. I’d been to Al-Anon and, while I think it’s a fine organization, there is a slightly different attitude among participants of Families Anonymous. I hope you’ll check it out and try recommending it in your column. Thanks for all the good you do. — Elizabeth in Roanoke, Virginia
Dear Elizabeth in Roanoke: I’ve heard many wonderful things about Families Anonymous, and I’m happy to recommend it here. Readers can learn more about the program and find out how to attend free meetings at https://www.familiesanonymous.org. Thank you for writing.
Dear Annie: This is in response to “Tired of the Night Prowls,” whose cats kept her or him awake by fighting all night. My wife had a similar problem. We solved it by coating the cats using a stick of butter. The cats spent the whole night cleaning themselves, which left no time for fighting each other. — Brennan
Dear Brennan: Thank you for the chuckle. I can’t say I endorse this advice; in fact, I have to caution against it, as cats are lactose intolerant. But you win big points for creativity.
“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to email@example.com.