DEAR AMY: We are retired and have a very small home. Our child, who is close to 50 years old, went through a divorce and told us she was moving back home. She has been with us for almost six months. She does nothing except sit with her laptop all day, every day. She has no job or means of transportation. She refuses to take the bus, taxi or anything but our auto.
She has doctors, dental and other medical appointments that we take her to. We are tired of being a 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.
What would be your suggestion to help us? We can get nowhere and could use some help. Help us get our home back! — Upset Parents
DEAR PARENTS: 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. If this is your version of loving 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.
When her current situation becomes uncomfortable enough for her, she will change it. You will have to face the discomfort of watching her flounder.
She is emotionally abusing you. The best way to deal with a bully is to stand up to her and calmly dictate your own terms. Let her throw a tantrum without letting her manipulate you.
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. Let her know that on this date she will be leaving. If you don't want to take her places and she has somewhere she wishes to go, she'll have to get herself there. If she misses an appointment because she refuses to take the bus, well, that's her choice.
Research your options through your local court. You may need to legally evict her. You should be prepared to do this if you need to. I realize this sounds harsh, but 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.
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. After our wedding, which these parents did not attend, I invited them to every holiday meal at our home.
My husband visited them at least once a week. When his mother spoke badly of me, he simply left. Nine months later, we were surprised with an invitation to their home. From that day forward, we became the best of friends. We both regretted that we had lost almost four years.
I was with her when she died, and I still miss her. I am so glad that I didn't give up. I had a wonderful husband and mother-in-law. — Grateful
DEAR GRATEFUL: Your confidence, positive spirit and forgiving heart transformed this relationship from tough to tender. Good for you!
DEAR AMY: "Sad Dad" is experiencing what many divorced fathers of adolescent daughters experience. She is unhappy during visitation at his house because her friends aren't there.
He may have to "sweeten the pot" by offering to bring her to concerts. He won't be able to talk to her during them, but there is the drive there and back, dinner before and breakfast the next morning. This may be the best he can do for a while. — Voice of Experience
DEAR VOICE: I really like your suggestion. Thank you.
(Send questions via e-mail to askamytribune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611. Amy Dickinson's memoir, "The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them" (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.)
By Amy Dickinson
Tribune Media Services