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OPINION | DEAR ABBY: Enabled middle-aged child dependent is still at home

by Abigail Van Buren | November 20, 2022 at 2:17 a.m.


DEAR ABBY: My husband passed away two years ago. I hope you can give me some advice on how to deal with my 53-year-old daughter who never left home. We generally get along well. She does freelance art, but doesn't earn much. She contributes only $30 a month. Also, she has a driving phobia, so she doesn't drive. She expects me to drive her to various places.

She only has cyber friends. She wants to travel, but doesn't want to go alone and keeps pushing me to go with her, although I don't really want to. I have suggested group tours, but she hesitates to go alone. I feel pressured to keep peace and go along with her desires. How should I handle this?

-- Pulling Back in Nevada

DEAR PULLING BACK: You have protected and enabled your daughter far too long. Tell her that her dependence on you has become too much. She must overcome her driving phobia (or at least take advantage of public transportation) and her fear of travel without you. Unless you have provided for her financially in the event of your death, how do you think she will survive living as a virtual shut-in with no employment and life skills? There are psychotherapists who specialize in ridding people of phobias. While she's there, your daughter should also get help to gain a degree of independence, even if it's about 30 years late.

DEAR ABBY: Recently, my three adult children chipped in to send their aunt dinner for her birthday. She's 79 and doesn't need anything; she doesn't even go out. Financially, she's in good shape. They placed the order, and it came to $95. Well, Abby, my elderly mom went crazy! She thought that was too little to spend on their aunt.

I think my kids were very thoughtful. They are all trying to build their lives. One has two kids, a house and a mortgage. The other just got engaged and is saving for the wedding. The third is saving for her future. My mother thinks her grandchildren should give her gifts and money. I think she should expect money from her own kids, not the grandkids. I hung up on her when she attacked my children. She always thinks she's right. Your thoughts?

-- Living with a

Difficult Mom

DEAR LIVING: Was Auntie satisfied with the meal? Your mother may think she is always right, but she was wrong to criticize the amount your children spent on dinner for their aunt. That she would then announce she expects gifts and money from them is beyond presumptuous. The decision about what to give is up to the giver, not the recipient.

DEAR ABBY: My sister passed away from lung cancer 10 months ago. My brother-in-law no longer wants to live in the house they shared because of too many memories, so he's giving the house to his daughter and moving into an apartment. My other sister wants to throw him a housewarming party. Is that appropriate?

-- Well-Meaning in the East

DEAR WELL-MEANING: Of course it is, as long as it's OK with your brother-in-law. It's not only appropriate, it is a loving, positive gesture and, in a sense, a celebration of life. Good for her!

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.


Print Headline: Enabled middle-aged child dependent is still at home

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