Life Advice



Longing for More Family Time

Annie Lane on

Dear Annie: We have elderly neighbors who have allowed their 62-year-old son and his wife of five years to move in with them while they look for a house.

The son lost his job in California, which he used as an excuse to move here to Washington. That was three months ago. They don't seem to be looking for a house. When the elderly homeowners asked why they were not looking, the reply was that they can't afford it.

We have been helping the elderly neighbors for years -- mowing their lawn and keeping up their yard. Since the son moved in, he has not done a thing to help around the place.

Our feeling is they are just waiting for the elderly couple to pass away and they will take over the house, which is paid for. How can we help the elderly couple? -- Concerned Neighbors

Dear Concerned Neighbors: My first question is: Did your elderly neighbors ask for your help in confronting their adult son? It's not clear from your letter, but there is a distinct possibility that they are fine with the arrangement and grateful to have their son close by.

If they did ask for your help, the best you can do is to advise them to communicate their needs. It is admirable that you want to help, but this is a conversation that is best had between your neighbors and their son.

Dear Annie: My nephew, by marriage, has a large family. I deeply love each one of their children. We live in the same state but a couple hours away (you would think it was a couple of states away). I try to create events for us to see each other -- meet here, we can do this or that, attend special shows together.


The problem is I may invite them and the other relatives on that side to 10-15 things throughout the year. They may accept two. They complain that I invite too much. I'm trying to find things they would like. My desire is to build a strong relationship with their children. I'm at a TOTAL loss!! -- Discouraged Great Aunt

Dear Discouraged: You sound very caring and thoughtful with nothing but good intentions. That said, your family members have expressed feeling overwhelmed by your invitations. That doesn't mean you should stop pursuing a relationship with them, but instead meet them where they are. Listen and respect their boundaries.

Relationships are two-way streets, and the only thing we can control is how we show up for the people we love. Hopefully, as these relationships gradually grow, your family will be more receptive to your invitations and put more effort into building bonds with you.


"How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?" is out now! Annie Lane's second anthology -- featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to




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