Dear Amy: At the beginning of the pandemic, my husband and I took in a niece of ours who had been living with other family members after having some mental health problems and leaving college.
Life with her parents is, in my opinion, the cause of much of her mental health problems.
In short, she can't go home.
However, my spouse and I are looking forward to an empty nest (our youngest is in his senior year at out-of-state university), and we need to find the best way to gently nudge her out into the great big world on her own.
She has a job but has not done much to continue with her college education. We discussed it initially and she took two classes, but hasn't taken any others.
She was able to make enough money to buy her own car because we aren't asking for rent, so she could take herself anywhere.
I think it would be better if she lived somewhere closer to home so she could visit if she wants.
Right now, she is 2,500 miles from home, and I can tell she misses her mother and her siblings, who are still there.
Tough love will not be good for this young lady since she is not healthy enough mentally to be given ultimatums or deadlines.
We talk about it often and can't come up with a plan on our own. We’d appreciate your recommendations.
– Almost Empty-Nester
Dear Almost: You should involve your niece in discussing plans, without applying too much pressure. “The great big world” might be a little too big for her. If she likes her job, she might prefer to stay close by, but the ultimate goal would be for her to live more independently, outside of your immediate household.
College is not for every young person. It sounds as if she has made progress in the time she has been with you, and the stability of your household has given her time to mature.
Ask her how things are going for her, overall. Does she like her job? Is she making friends? Help her to see the very real ways that she is making progress.
If she is not currently seeing a therapist, you should ask if she would like your help in finding one. Now that her life is more stable, therapy would help her to stay on track.
A licensed social worker (LSW) can coach her to develop reasonable and defined goals and check her progress.
Dear Amy: My son recently remarried.
We came up with a plan for me to continue living with him and his wife after the wedding, if I occasionally help out with my 4-year-old granddaughter, “Kristin.”
It seems like I am watching Kristin more and more often.
They don’t take her out much. They will ask her, “Do you want to go with us?”
Kristin says, “No, I am staying here with Nonny.”
They tell me they are going to have drinks with friends and be back in 90 minutes or so. They show up three hours later.
They are always planning one-night trips, leaving me with Kristen. They tell me when to expect them and then show up much later than expected.
When I opened my last fortune cookie, it said: “Remain silent – it is best for you.”
I have to live with them 14 more months, until I get Social Security, and then I can afford to move out.
How do I deal with this until then and still keep the peace?
– Feeling Used
Dear Feeling Used: I don’t enjoy disagreeing with the eternal wisdom of fortune cookies, but in this case, you should communicate with these parents and ask them to give you a basic guideline concerning those times they expect you to be “on duty.”
If you don’t do this now, the situation is likely to blow up later.
You should also develop some interests outside their home, in order to enhance your own personal life and adult friendships.
Dear Amy: Responding to “Wondering,” the older woman moving in with her much younger boyfriend, I’d say that any 35-year-old man who wants to move in with a 52-year-old woman is definitely looking for a “mommy figure.”
– Humor Guy
Dear Humor Guy: We humans who actually inhabit “mommy figures” don’t always enjoy the “humorous” comments sent our way because we have the gall to exist.
However, in this case, you get a pun-point and “Wondering” gets a “way to go” from me.
©2021 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.