DEAR ABBY: With so many families moving in with relatives because of personal struggles in their lives, I thought it might be helpful to offer a few suggestions to help this work for everyone. If you move in with relatives:
1. Do not assume they won't mind if you store everything you own in their garage. Get rid of it or pay for a storage unit.
2. Help with the housework, even if they say, "Oh, don't bother." And keep your space clean and orderly and assist in keeping a shared bathroom tidy.
3. Show you appreciate having a place to stay. Feed pets, carry out the trash, rake leaves or shovel snow.
4. Do your own laundry. Ask when is the most convenient time to do it. Don't leave clothes in the washer or dryer, which prevents others from washing their own things.
5. If you are paying something toward your stay, don't think that precludes your helping in the home.
6. Work out the food arrangements. Maybe you have a shelf or drawer in the fridge for your food. Prepare your own meals unless everyone agrees to share cooking duties and food budgets.
7. If you don't have a job, keep looking. Don't lie around watching TV, sleeping or playing on the computer.
8. Never gossip about the household. You owe it to the family who took you in.
9. Do try to set a departure date. If things change, discuss it. When in doubt, talk it out.
To those who are going through this, I wish you luck and better times ahead. -- LOVING FAMILY MEMBER
DEAR FAMILY MEMBER: Your letter is timely because, for various reasons, millions of Americans now live in multifamily and intergenerational households. For some of them, the arrangement will be temporary. For others, it is cultural, practical and will be permanent. Whatever the reasons for cohabiting, the suggestions you submitted are thought-provoking and worth space in my column. Thank you for raising the subject.
DEAR ABBY: I was married for nine years to an outwardly sweet, but deceptive woman who cheated and left me. We have two children. A custody battle is waging, and the divorce has not been finalized due to financial disputes.
I have found myself with a dilemma. I am not a bad-looking guy, and women come on to me during social events. On the occasion that I find myself attracted and ask a woman out, I end up telling her the whole divorce/custody story no matter how hard I try to avoid it or change the subject. After the date, I regret the conversation.
How should these issues be discussed with a potential lover? I have avoided commitment because of all the "baby mama drama" some of the women had, but I'm now seriously interested in someone and she's receptive to seeing me. I'm a free-spirited person and this problem is weighing me down. Please advise, Abby. -- "STUCK" IN SOUTH CAROLINA
DEAR "STUCK": Because you are seriously interested, do the honorable thing and let her know in advance that a relationship with you may be complicated because your divorce isn't final, and the reasons why. If she's as interested in you as you are in her, she will respect you for it. If your almost-ex is vindictive, your new lady will need to be prepared for it.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)