Posted: Wednesday, September 23, 2009 8:01 pm
Dear Annie: I was wondering if you could help me with a problem I’m having with my parents. I’m 31 and freely admit I still live with them, as does my 26-year-old brother. My parents are both semi-retired, working part time. They earn decent salaries, and my dad gets a nice retirement check every month. We live in a nice house with extremely low rent and few bills.
Recently, we’ve gotten into a big argument over paying rent. I pay for my own expenses, along with the cable bill (which sometimes can reach $200 a month). My salary is low, and with the economy the way it is, there’s no chance of getting a better job right now. However, my brother has an excellent job and very few personal expenses. He doesn’t pay a single cent to live in the house and never offers to help. I am willing to pay rent and other household bills if they will make my brother do the same. They keep agreeing, but never do anything. He has always been their favorite, and they give him a free ride.
My parents often spend money on frivolous things (a motorcycle and big-screen TV) and then complain that they have nothing left for the electric bill. They say they shouldn’t have to pay these bills anymore and ought to be able to enjoy their money. Maybe so, but I don’t think it’s fair that I pay half the rent when four adults live in the same house. Am I being too cheap? There’s no chance of moving out. I can’t afford to live on my own. What should I do? — No Money in Ohio
Dear Ohio: While we agree it is unfair for your parents to charge you rent while allowing your brother to freeload, the costs are unrelated. Whether or not your brother contributes a dime, you should be paying approximately one week’s salary for one month’s rent, in exchange for which you are not responsible for the cable bill unless the TV is yours alone.
Dear Annie: I work at an auto body shop. My boss is very generous and knows I have financial problems. She has given me an abandoned car that is worth more than it costs to repair. Two employees offered to help with the repairs and paint the car for me.
I offered to pay all of them, but they refuse to accept my money. I don’t feel comfortable with this. What can I do to express my gratitude? — Thankful in Florida
Dear Florida: You can send each one a card with a personal note inside; bring a treat to the auto shop that everyone can share; send flowers or plants; bring individual coffee mugs with candy inside; treat them to lunch; make a donation to a charity in their names. Be creative.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “A Grieving Dad,” whose son died. His wife’s sisters want her to “get over it.” Please let your readers know that people must be allowed to grieve, and for considerably more than three months for someone as close as a spouse or child.
As the grieving father suggested, the first year, every little thing reminiscent of the dead loved one will be an occasion for renewed grief and tears. Those who cannot sympathize likely cannot deal with it because of their own inexperience with the condition or other shortcomings.
“Get over it” is poor advice for those sisters to give. Instead, after the initial onslaught of shock and grief, it is important for the grieving person to begin to make progress of some sort — going back to work, getting out with friends, being able to experience humor at times. Still, the grief will occasionally reappear.
After the first year, the grieving person will begin rebuilding a new life without the loved one. It sounds as if “Grieving Dad” and his wife are beginning to do this. — Better Now
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 9.23.09