DEAR AMY: My 20-year-old son is about to move out of our house. Again. When he first moved out, he went to college and experienced dorm life. He moved home after one semester, and soon signed a lease for an apartment with friends.
He was employed at the same company throughout all of this time and could afford to live on his own. After this lease was over, he bounced back home. At this point, he was making as much money as my husband, who supports me and our two younger children. I let him have his former room and asked him to reimburse us for the extra expense of having him home. He did so begrudgingly. I ended up reducing the amount, but he still resented it.
Now he's about to move out again and asked if I would let him charge a bedroom set on my credit card. I told him that I couldn't put myself in additional debt, and he has brought up a few times that he doesn't have a bed for when he moves out. When I suggest he charge his own bed if he doesn't have the money, he says he can't get more credit.
Because he's 20, I feel as if I should help him, especially when he applies guilt. On the other hand, he is making a good salary for someone his age. What do I owe this man-child?
— Wannabe Tough Love Mom
DEAR MOM: I like your basic choices, except for one: You should never suggest that your son go into more debt. Furthermore, at age 20, it seems he is already tapped out. Why is this? Is he gambling, overspending when he goes out, giving money to friends? What is his debt situation?
If he wants a bed, you should go with him to your local Salvation Army or Goodwill resale center to shop for a bed or futon. Craigslist (or freecycle.com) are also great sources for low-cost furnishings. He could also put something on layaway or simply save money for a bed and sleep in a sleeping bag until he gets one.
In short: This is not your problem. It is his. He can't play the guilt card if you don't have anything to feel guilty about. And you don't.
DEAR AMY: Four months ago I ended a relationship with "Steve." It was a nasty ending to a one-year romance. One of the reasons I broke it off is that he is a total blabbermouth and very indiscreet.
While we were dating, Steve told me he had gone out a few times with "Sandra," a woman from my high school. Sandra and I were not friends in high school, and it was a long time ago. Shortly after Steve and I broke up, I ran into Sandra and we ended up becoming friends.
She is very nice, but I'm worried. Should I tell her about Steve? I haven't brought up this relationship. We are in our late 50s, divorced or single, live in the same general area and know a good number of the same people. I hate to mess up a new friendship. If she finds out Steve and I had a relationship, should I fib and say I didn't realize they had also had a relationship?
— New Friend
DEAR FRIEND: You are overthinking this. Your and Sandra's relationship with Steve did not overlap. You were not her friend when you dated him. There is no reason to fib about anything. At middle-age, one thing you can proudly claim is your own reasonable past.
DEAR AMY: "Meat Lovers" wrote to you, concerned about their future-in-laws, vegans who refused to attend a Thanksgiving feast if they served any meat with the meal. I suggest they ask these in-laws, "Do you wear leather shoes?" If so, then they are using animal products.
— Tired of Demands
DEAR TIRED: It is not up to these "Meat Lovers" to challenge their in-laws' lifestyle. All they need to do is be clear about what they are willing and able to serve for their feast.
Send questions via e-mail to email@example.com. Amy Dickinson's memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.