Q. I have a 21-year-old daughter. She has a little boy (my grandson), who is 2½.
My husband and I have given her so many chances to be a mom to her boy and have encouraged her to get a job.
While she was living with us, she refused to get a job, and I was taking care of my grandson.
We gave her an ultimatum that she must get a job or move out and grow up. Well, she chose to move out. Then she lied about where she was living.
She left her son behind and my husband and I have been taking care of him.
I just found out on Facebook that she is living with a guy. Not once has she asked about her son.
Suddenly, last month she asked my husband on Facebook if she could come back. But recent pictures on her boyfriend’s Facebook page show that she is having a good time.
I don’t know what to do.
My grandson is thriving without his mother and is very happy with us. He doesn’t even seem to know that she is gone. He doesn’t mention her at all.
She has lied so much that at this point I don’t trust her.
Should I let her come home, or should we let her live out in the real world?
A. I have news for all of you. Your daughter living with her boyfriend while you raise her child is not the real world. Your challenging daughter living at home with you while the three of you clash over raising this child is as real as it gets.
This is tricky. Your daughter seems to have abandoned her child to your care.
However, she is his mother. She may bounce in and out of his life while he lives with you, and then, very suddenly, she might decide to take the child to live with her.
Millions of heroic grandparents (and other family members) are currently raising children, and yet the legal assumption is that (unless the situation is extreme) children should be with their biological parents.
My opinion is that you and your husband should continue to raise this boy without his mother, until she shows a consistent intent (beyond a Facebook message) that she wants to come back. Ultimately, however, her being with you would probably be best for both her and the child.
However, understand that if she moves home and you clash again and kick her out, she may take the boy with her.
You MUST research your legal rights. See an adoption attorney — or meet with a social worker at your local Family and Child Services office.
Your daughter might be willing to sign over temporary guardianship to you, so that you can legally make decisions on the boy’s behalf.
Q. I met a woman online. We have been texting back and forth.
She is very cautious, which I understand, but it’s almost stressful to pursue her.
She doesn’t seem excited about a new relationship.
I am wondering if I should put my efforts elsewhere?
A. It is challenging, but vital, to read another person’s cues — certainly at the outset of what you hope will be a relationship. You two have never met in person, and the reasons she is cautious could range from she is smart and realizes she is communicating with a virtual stranger to she is cautious because she is in another relationship (or any combination or variation along a very wide spectrum).
You should not pursue or press her. You should text her: “Look, I can tell you are being super-cautious, and I want you to know that I respect that. I don’t want to make you uncomfortable, so I’ll wait for you to get in touch.”
Harkening back to my own foray into Internet matching, I urge you to try to meet any potential match in person as soon as possible. Texting and messaging can create a smoke screen.
In my experience, I knew — usually within moments after meeting for coffee — whether I was interested (and, sigh, I never was).
Q. I appreciated the sincerity of the man signing his name “Little Circle Seeks Bigger Circle.” He wanted to find ways to connect in a meaningful way with other men.
I also appreciated your response. I wish you had suggested that this man develop some group-centered hobbies, however.
A. Yes, great advice.
Amy Dickinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.