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Amy: Back at home, divorced daughter controls parents

  • Article by: AMY DICKINSON
  • Chicago Tribune
  • November 24, 2012 - 3:01 PM

Dear Amy: We are retired and have a very small home. Our child, who is close to 50, went through a divorce and told us she was moving back home. She has been with us almost six months. She does nothing except sit with her laptop. She has no job or means of transportation. She refuses to take the bus, taxi or anything but our auto. She has dental and medical appointments that we take her to.

We are tired of being chauffeur, cook, house cleaner, etc. When we try to talk to her about a job or plans to find her own living space, she starts shouting, shedding tears, bullying and arguing.

Help us get our home back!

Amy says: Your daughter may be depressed and coping with it the only way she knows how, which is to control you. You seem to have willingly turned yourselves over to her. You should face the tough reality that your love is robbing her of her real strength, which should be used to become a self-sustaining adult.

She is emotionally abusing you. The best way to deal with a bully is to stand up to her and calmly dictate your terms.

You and your spouse need to decide to do things differently, and you must be on the same page. Give your daughter a reasonable time frame to get on her feet and a firm deadline to move. She'll have to find low-cost housing or a friend to take her in. If you don't want to take her places and she has somewhere she wishes to go, she'll have to get herself there.

Research your options through your local court. You may need to evict her. You have to take care of yourselves, and she must find a way to take care of herself. A counselor or family mediator will help you to clarify your own intentions.

Mother-in-law's transformation

Dear Amy: I'm reflecting on letters in your column complaining about abusive in-laws. My husband and I were engaged for three years, and my future mother-in-law declared me "the worst one yet!" I didn't take it personally, because she hated any woman her son dated.

His parents did not attend our wedding. I invited them to holiday meals at our home, and my husband visited them at least once a week. When his mother spoke badly of me, he left. Nine months later, we were surprised with an invitation to their home. From that day forward, we became the best of friends. I was with her when she died, and I still miss her. I am so glad I didn't give up.

Amy says: Your confidence, positive spirit and forgiving heart transformed this relationship from tough to tender. Good for you!

Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com.

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