Q. My wife and I have a 29-year-old daughter. For the past two and a half years, we have been paying her rent and utilities to help her get on her feet and find a job. Her son, our grandson,
7 years old, is in school the whole day. Our daughter lives in the city, has a car, is on the bus line, gets food assistance, and is intelligent, healthy, and able to work. When we bring up the subject of getting a job, many excuses are offered as to why she won't even look for one. She has a certificate in dental hygiene and could use that to get a good job, but she doesn’t want to. Right now, her life is three-hour naps, Facebook, and watching TV. She also complains about having few friends. With all that time on her hands, we’re wondering why she has no friends. Any advice as to how to motivate her to seek employment?
A. I do have some advice: Stop enabling her three-hour naps, Facebook surfing, and TV watching. You can do this by reducing your financial help so that she will be “motivated” to utilize her dental hygienist degree. “Not wanting to” is not a sufficient reason for her aversion to getting a job. Remind her she has a child to support. If she were in a lab working on a cure for cancer, then I might say continue to support her, but since that is not the case, I would have no qualms about putting an end to three-hour naps, Facebook, and television. As for having few friends, tell her that working women have a better chance of making friends in the workplace than they do in their homes.
Q. Do you think people can genuinely love and forgive a person but not want a relationship with them? The reason I’m asking stems from an incident between my cousin “Wanda” and me. A while back, she called my dad, pretending she wanted to talk to him, but the real reason was to find out specific information about me, which was really none of her business. My dad told me, and as a result, I decided to call her and politely tell her that if she wants to know anything about me, she should ask me directly. The next day, Wanda called my dad to tell him that I called her and was rude and disrespectful (which I was not). So, some time went by, and during the 2011 holiday season, she called me hoping to make up for what she did. I slammed the phone down in anger. She then called my dad to tell him I hurt her feelings. My father told her I am an adult and have the right to respond any way I choose, and that he cannot make me talk to her. A few months later, she and I made up, but I still do not feel I can trust her. What do you think about the question at the beginning of my letter?
A. This back and forth sounds like you girls are 13, but I know that is not the case. I well understand why you would not trust her (not sure I would, either), but I question whether you really do, at this point, love and forgive her. Perhaps without trust, love and forgiveness are not unqualifiedly possible. The bottom line is that you don’t wish to have a relationship, so don’t. And don’t beat yourself up about it.