DEAR ABBY: I have two adult sons living at home, ages 22 and 24. Both are working. I have recently retired, and my income has become half of what it was before. I told my sons that if they are to continue living here, they must pay room and board of $30 a week or find a place to live with the amenities they have here.
They are now ranting and raving and calling me a bad mother. Am I being unreasonable? I feel I have provided my sons with a good life, and it is now time for them to take some responsibility for their own support. It's time to grow up. Am I wrong?
My oldest son says he refuses to help me pay my mortgage! I told him to either pay the $120 a month or try to find a cheaper place to live. Any thoughts on this? -- STRESSED-OUT MOM, LAKE VIEW, N.Y.
DEAR STRESSED OUT: You're making perfect sense to me. If your older boy was not centered so much on himself and his wants (notice, I didn't say "needs"), he would realize that you have made him a generous offer.
Because of your diminished income, of COURSE there is no question that your sons should contribute to the household expenses. It's possible they won't realize what a good deal they've been having until they try to match it in the real world. Stand your ground, Mom, and don't take any back talk.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been married four years. During that time we have had three children. Our youngest was born three months ago with various medical problems including heart defects, enlarged kidneys, hearing problems and Down syndrome.
To top it off, I have recently been diagnosed with cancer. I start radiation and chemo next month. I am stressed to say the least, and being intimate with my husband right now is at the bottom of my list of things I need to do.
My husband is having a problem understanding why I am not interested in sex. He takes it personally when I don't accept his advances. I love him very much, and I'm grateful for everything he does for me and the kids, but right now I have no interest in sex. How can I get through to him without hurting his feelings? And how do I stop the advances so I don't feel so guilty? -- STRESSED IN WISCONSIN
DEAR STRESSED: Excuse me? You've had three children in four years, you're caring for a newborn with physical and developmental disabilities and you're beginning treatment for a life-threatening illness. Frankly, I'm surprised you are still standing.
If necessary, drag your spouse to your OB/GYN, your pediatrician and your oncologist. Your husband may be the father of three, but he needs to learn the facts of life -- the first of which is that right now, you are physically and emotionally distracted and unable to perform as he would wish.
DEAR ABBY: My wife and I recently attended a lovely party at a home with two baby grand pianos. One of the guests -- I'll call her "Sophie" -- is an accomplished pianist, and she dearly wanted to sit down and play.
We encouraged her but she refused, stating that the host and hostess might not appreciate having their party interrupted. Should Sophie have asked permission, or would that have created undue pressure on the hostess? -- DAVID IN CUPERTINO, CALIF.
DEAR DAVID: It depends on the hosts. Some would welcome it; others might not. Sophie was correct to refrain from playing the piano without being asked to. It could have, indeed, been disruptive. And if either (or both) of the hosts is a serious musician, many musicians prefer that their instruments not be played by someone else.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)
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