Dear Ann: Six months ago, my 21-year-old daughter, "Jessica," and her infant son came to live with me and my second husband. I have had nothing but trouble ever since.
Jessica was home only two days before we had our first major blow-up. She "borrowed" my jewelry without permission. When I confronted her, she said it was "no big deal." The next day, I put a lock on my bedroom door. When she used my digital camera to send inappropriate photographs of herself to men she met over the Internet, I locked the camera in a safe. When she ran up a long-distance phone bill, I put an access code on the phone. Her room is a mess, she throws wet bath towels on the floor, leaves leftover food in her bedroom and won't lift a finger to help out.
I supply all the food, as well as formula and diapers for the baby. She lives rent-free because she doesn't have a job yet, although she is looking. She refuses to fill out the necessary paperwork to get child support from the baby's father, so my husband and I have ended up supporting them. I told Jessica I could not live like this any longer and gave her a list of house rules. She ignores them. I told her to get counseling, but she refuses. Now she says if I don't leave her alone, she will take away my grandson and I'll never see him again.
Believe it or not, Jessica is a wonderful mother and takes excellent care of her son. I can't bring myself to throw them out on the street, although my friends say she deserves it. My husband is a saint for putting up with all of this, and he says whatever I do is OK with him. Do you have any suggestions? Mother To a Pain in the Rear in New Jersey
Dear Mother: Jessica is behaving like a spoiled brat, and you'd be perfectly justified if you tossed her out. However, doing so would put your grandson in jeopardy, and he needs the stability you and your husband provide.
Family counseling would benefit all of you. Jessica is doing her son no favor with her rotten behavior. Children learn by example. If Jessica refuses to go for counseling, go without her. A good therapist can help you decide the best way to deal with your daughter without losing your sanity. And P.S.: Tell your husband my hat is off to him. He sounds like a real gem.
Dear Ann: I have been married for 17 years, and my husband has never bought me a wedding ring or an engagement ring. When "Tom" first asked me to marry him, he told me he couldn't afford a ring. I used my grandmother's gold band for our wedding ceremony, even though it was too big. I don't want to resize it because that would destroy the sentimental value. Also, I would like to hand that ring down to my daughters. Consequently, I have not worn it for several years.
Tom has done well financially. I am very proud of him he's a real self-made man. Recently, I asked him outright to buy me a wedding ring and even pointed out a few in a store window that I like. One has several diamonds and is reasonably priced. He has done nothing about it.
Should I give up, keep hinting or just buy the ring myself? I'm tired of being Ringless in Waco, Tex.
Dear Waco: Tell Tom, nicely, that you want a wedding ring for your 18th wedding anniversary and that you've already seen a few you like. Ask if he will go with you to make the final selection, or if he'd prefer that you do it on your own. In other words, put the ball in his court, and let's hope he lobs it over the net.