Dear Annie: My husband and I own a second home. Our daughter, her boyfriend and their two small children live in that house and pay us rent. Six months ago, the entire boyfriend's family (his mom, dad, two grown brothers and brothers' girlfriends) moved in. They moved from out of state and need a place to stay until they find a home of their own. There has been no additional rent income, and in addition, they all smoke and have pets in the house, which is against the house rules.
I am concerned about the extra wear and tear on our property. We have discussed this with our daughter on numerous occasions, but she gets very defensive and upset if questioned about the situation. Furthermore, she enjoys having them there because they help with household chores. She insists this is temporary, but we feel it is already permanent. From my research, there is nothing we can do legally. We are happy to help our children, but we feel used, manipulated and disrespected by these "guests." What is your advice? — Being Taken Advantage Of
Dear Being Taken Advantage Of: Look more closely at your daughter's and her boyfriend's actions, and listen less to their words. She can say it's temporary all she wants, but six months is a great deal of time to find a place to stay. It is your house and your rules. Set a date for the family of your daughter's boyfriend to be out of your house, and stick to it.
Remember, it is your daughter who is allowing the "guests" to use and disrespect your property. If you are concerned about a rupture with your mother-daughter relationship, you could always consider hiring a property manager. That way, someone other than you would be enforcing your rules. The amount of money this would cost is small compared with the potential damage to your property and your relationship with your daughter.
Dear Annie: I really enjoyed reading your response to the freshman with social anxiety and agree with all that you said in response. I have suffered with social anxiety and being "weird" my entire life. I remember it being the absolute worst when I myself was a freshman in high school. All I wanted was to fit in somewhere, and I had no idea how to do that.
I just want to let "Freshman" know that the awkwardness of being socially anxious is not something that just magically goes away one day. It is something you get better at dealing with as you age. You will find that as you and your peers get older, they will become more understanding and, most importantly, you will meet many others who feel the same way you do.
I am now 34 years old and a successful, hardworking mom with a wonderful family and friends. Yet I am still "the weird one" among my colleagues, and I still have moments when I feel ashamed of my awkwardness. Here is a quotation that has helped me a lot over the years: "Say what you want and be who you are, because those who matter don't mind and those who mind don't matter." Life changes drastically when you bear that in mind and take it to heart. — Happily Awkward
Dear Happily Awkward: May this letter inspire other people out there who feel like "the weird one" to live happily. Being just like everyone else would get pretty boring pretty quickly. The fact that you signed your name with "Happily" is inspirational.
As P.T. Barnum said, no one ever made any difference being like everyone else.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]