Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Please tell "Stressed-Out Mom," the retired woman whose two (employed) sons, ages 22 and 24, live with her for free (Jan. 7), that the only "mistake" she has made was not requiring them to behave like adults before now. Taking responsibility and being accountable are signs of adulthood. Taking advantage of anyone, including Mom, and being a free-loader are signs of immaturity. -- RAISING SONS IN WHARTON, N.J.

DEAR RAISING SONS: My readers overwhelmingly agree the time has come for "Stressed-Out's" "boys" to act like the adults they are and stop behaving like children. If they refuse to cooperate, then it's time for mom to show them the door -- to the real world. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: As you already know, "Stressed-Out's" problem is nothing new to baby boomer parents. We have brought it on ourselves.

We've enjoyed better economic times and freedom than our parents did. Because of this, we have actually encouraged our children to be more materialistic and irresponsible. We haven't helped them develop skills to manage their affairs and become responsible human beings.

If "Stressed-Out" finds it difficult to get her grown sons to pay a minimal sum to ease her financial situation at retirement, she should consider moving to a smaller place, which will be less comfortable for them.

I am preparing my teenage son to become independent and self-sufficient. I'd rather have the stress involved in doing it now than face it later. We parents owe this to our children and society in general. -- INGRID D., OTTAWA, CANADA

DEAR ABBY: I, too, have an adult son who lives with me. I had never asked him to contribute to the household expenses until last year when I became disabled and unable to work. He jumped at the chance to help me. He has assumed many of the day-to-day responsibilities of running the household and contributes half the cost of the mortgage and utilities.

There is nothing wrong with adult children enjoying the benefits of living at home, as long as they appreciate what they've been given and are prepared to give back when it's their turn. -- CHERYL M., DUBLIN, OHIO

DEAR ABBY: I'm writing in regard to the two adult males who still live with their mother. She said she had recently retired and her income has dropped by half. Her sons are whining about having to help her pay her bills? Welcome to reality! Those of us who have grown into adults pay bills. We do our part. Their mom has done her job. The time has come for them to quit being spoiled little boys and become men. -- TERRI T., TRENTON, N.J.

DEAR ABBY: I have some advice for that recently retired mom who generously offered her two deadbeat sons the low amount of $30 a week rent. Take out the following in the local paper: "2 rooms for rent. $50 a week each. Home cooking included. Available NOW." Then circle it, cut it out and tape it to the fridge. When the calls start coming, they'll be begging to pay that 30 bucks! -- MIKE R., SANTA MONICA, CALIF.

DEAR ABBY: Should an overnight guest in someone's home remake the bed on the day he or she is leaving, or strip off the sheets since they are going to be washed anyway? -- CHECKING OUT IN CANADA

DEAR CHECKING OUT: Because the sheets will have to be laundered before the bed is made up for the next person using it, the sheets should be stripped. But whether your host would prefer to be the one who does it is something only he or she can answer, so that's whom you should ask.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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