DEAR AMY: I have two grown sons in their 20s. They both moved out of the house last year. When they come home for a visit they bring their laundry (which is fine), and they also bring their dogs (not so fine).
One of my sons just lays on the couch while he's here and doesn't do anything, while I'm in the kitchen cooking and the dogs are under my feet. The other son does help out, and I feel bad because he starts getting mad at the lazy son and then it starts conflict in my house.
My husband believes they are guests and shouldn't have to help do anything while here. I believe that is not true! When I go to their homes I bring food and help to clean up.
Every time I ask my son to do something my husband does the task instead, because he hates the tension. Honestly Amy, there isn't any tension — I'm just asking for help. I hate being stuck in the kitchen while everyone is having fun.
Please help to resolve this conflict in our house so we have a better time while my sons visit.
— Mortified Mom
DEAR MOM: Consider this a transition to adulthood, which you will nudge your sons toward.
I think it's pretty normal for young adults to bring laundry home (it's a great opportunity to visit mom and dad and leave with clean duds), but you should not be doing their laundry for them. Show them how to use the equipment and let them do their own laundry, for goodness sake.
If you want to cook for your sons, then let that be your special gift to them while they visit.
A parent should never hesitate to ask their offspring to lend a hand. When your husband denies your sons the opportunity to be useful to you, he impedes their growth. At least one of your sons is headed toward a life as a layabout. His entitled attitude and laziness will influence every aspect of his life — including the type of person he attracts as a partner.
Because this issue seems to rest most heavily on your shoulders, you (not your husband) should talk to your sons — together, over a meal — about how you would like these visits to go. Don't do this when you're upset; frame it as a common sense reaction to the current issue.
DEAR AMY: I've been holding onto this by myself for the past two months. What is the best way to tell my best friend that I've seen his wife with another (male) friend of ours on numerous occasions? I have seen these two having dinner together. I've also seen them having drinks. I don't think my friend knows about this — he has certainly never brought it up.
My best friend and I have been like family for a long time. I don't want to see him get hurt. I don't know what to say. Can you give me some words to use?
— Fretting Friend
DEAR FRETTING: When you have something difficult to convey to someone, it's best to start by simply admitting to the challenge. You say, "This is really tough for me to bring up to you, but we've been friends for a long time, and I consider you to be like family."
Then you tell your friend, "I've seen your wife out a few times with 'Bart.' There might be a completely innocent reason for this but I thought you should know. If you were in my shoes, I'd want you to tell me."
Your pal might leap in to supply a reason his wife has been spending time with this particular friend. If so, accept whatever explanation he gives you and maintain an open and neutral attitude toward the entire situation.
DEAR AMY: The letter from "Liberal" caught my eye. This person was asking how to deal with "narrow-minded" family members who would "never change their minds."
Although I liked your response, you left out an obvious point: Liberal was demonstrating an extremely narrow-minded attitude toward these other people. What about some good old-fashioned tolerance?
— Also Liberal
DEAR ALSO: Touche!
Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Amy Dickinson's memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.