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by Abigail Van Buren

Woman's Idea of Fun May Earn Her a Bad Reputation

DEAR ABBY: I'm a man in my 60s, and my health isn't the greatest. My son "Dan" asked me to move in with him, but I'm reluctant. I spent some time with his girlfriend, "Twylla," when they lived with me for six months, and the entire time all she did was complain to me about my "no-good son." During that "visit" she never lifted a finger to do dishes, clean her room or even prepare a meal for herself.

I can still take care of myself, but I'm not able to take care of Twylla. Last night she phoned me screaming and crying because Dan went to his friend's house without her. I told her if she didn't like the way he treated her, to go home to Mommy and Daddy. When she called them, they told her Dan is entitled to a night out with his male friends. (They told me about it.) I told her father to come and get her if she thinks my son is abusing her.

I like Twylla when she's not complaining, but I need a polite way to tell her to shut up. Dan works 12-hour shifts, seven days a week, and deserves to relax. He has had to call the police about her; they locked her in the psych ward because she took pills and tried to commit suicide.

I want to spend time with my son and grandson, but I need some rules for Twylla's conduct before moving in with them. What do you suggest? -- AT A LOSS IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR AT A LOSS: You need more than a polite way to tell your son's girlfriend to "shut up." You need to think again about moving into their home, which would be a stressful environment.

If you move in, Twylla will expect you to continue your assigned role as her parent, housekeeper, confidant and referee as she dumps her complaints (real or imagined) about your son on you. Twylla may be a nice girl when she's in her right mind, but it appears her mental health is fragile. If you were in good health, my advice might be different. But as things stand, the stress could cause your health to deteriorate further.

Because you would like to spend more time with your son, my advice is to stay close to them -- but in your own place. That way you'll have some refuge and respite, and so will Dan.