Life Advice



Ask Amy: Parents are unhappy with current housemates

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: My husband and I bought a house seven years ago. It has a finished basement. The basement has a bathroom, a bedroom, and a den in it.

Our daughter and son-in-law live with us in the downstairs den and bedroom (they use that bathroom). They are employed.

Our daughter is a college graduate and has been married to our son-in-law for 12 years. They don’t have children.

Our daughter is looked upon as the smart one in the family, but she isn’t always respectful or helpful to us as her parents.

In recent years her behavior has gotten worse.

She says I have no boundaries, when in reality I am just trying to be patient with her until she matures more (she is 32).

I (of course) always correct her when she is wrong, which she resents. Then she insults me and curses at me.

It seems like I can’t win!

How do I get the point across that we have the right to be treated respectfully in our own home?

I am very frustrated with her and have been looking to sell our home due to this tension. I’m thinking about buying another and they can either buy ours (if they can afford it) or find somewhere else to live.

– Upstairs Mom in Tennessee

Dear Upstairs Mom: I gather that your daughter and son-in-law share (or have use of) your kitchen, dining, and possibly laundry areas in the upstairs part of your home.

If that is the case, then no – you have no physical boundaries. It is hard to have boundaries when you are sharing a house.

If you are (“of course”) correcting your 32-year-old daughter when she is “wrong,” and are waiting for this fully-grown daughter to “mature more,” then it seems that you also have no – or low – personal boundaries.

Her rude and crude responses to you are inappropriate, but you seem like someone who might not take a hint. Escalating might be her way of trying to get you to back off.

It’s your house. If you don’t like the way your housemates treat you, then it is time for them to go. Evicting this couple (if they don’t want to leave) might be tricky, and so if you are planning to sell the house anyway, this currently hot market might be a great time to do it.

I don’t suggest trying to sell your home to them; it might be best for your relationship if these basement-moochers start out fresh, on their own.

Dear Amy: I’m a 29-year-old man. My wife and I have been together for six years. We got married three years ago with a wonderful wedding that included all of our family and friends.


Our wedding is just about the last truly happy memory I have from our relationship.

My wife and I do not get along, and I can’t really figure out why. We both like our jobs and we have a nice apartment. We share expenses and household chores.

I feel like she is just always unhappy. I can’t seem to please her. Sometimes I dread coming home from work, because I’m never sure about what will greet me. I’ve started fantasizing about leaving the marriage, and that makes me feel absolutely terrible.

I’m reaching out for some guidance. I need a fresh perspective about what I should do.

– Worried and Wondering

Dear Worried: You don’t mention having any conversations about whether to have children, but my first suggestion is that you should not have kids until you arrive at some resolution about your relationship.

You two should pursue professional counseling immediately.

You should broach this by sitting down with your wife and laying it all on the line. Use “I statements” and stick to describing your own feelings: “I walk on eggshells at home. I feel sad and lonely. I’m worried about our future.”

Please, take a deep breath, stay calm, and do your best to create a lot of space for your wife to respond to you. You are seeking insight, not another fight.

Dear Amy: The question from “Frustrated Neighbor” hit home. This very ungenerous person was complaining about the unkempt state of their neighbor’s home and yard.

Well, I was once that neighbor with the unkempt property. I was struggling with treatment for cancer, while being a mom to three kids.

My neighbor complained – via a note – but never offered to help.

– Survivor

Dear Survivor: We never know what is going on in someone else’s life – unless we ask.


(You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

©2024 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.



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