DEAR ABBY: My youngest daughter, "Martha," is 18 and has moved back home after two months on her own. I never knew how much I valued my privacy until my husband and I had a chance to spend time alone. Now my life has been turned upside down.
Don't misunderstand me. I love Martha with all my heart and would be devastated if any harm came to her. But she uses my perfume every day because she doesn't want to buy her own and "borrows" my clothes at will. Every night I have to retrieve my belongings from her room.
If I talk to my husband about our daughter, he defends her. If I confront Martha, she runs to Daddy. The tension around here is causing friction between my husband and me.
The other night, Martha came home at 1:30 a.m. and proceeded to fix herself a snack in the kitchen, waking me up. The next morning at 5:30 a.m., I turned on the stereo, turned on the lights and made so much noise that nobody in the house could sleep. My husband thinks I have lost my mind, but I'm determined that my daughter is going to have a dose of her own medicine.
This girl pays no rent and brings home $200 a week. The only thing we ask of her in the way of housework is that she keep her bathroom clean. We insist that she contribute $25 per week for food and purchase all of her personal items. So far, she has paid on time, but she is starting to run out of supplies in her bathroom, and I'm sure they'll appear on our grocery list on Friday.
How am I going to keep peace in my home? Am I being petty, as my husband says? This could destroy my marriage if it continues. Please help me. -- HELL ON THE HOME FRONT IN FLORIDA
DEAR HELL ON THE HOME FRONT: Since your daughter was away from home for only two months before returning, I have to wonder how you coped before she left. However, since she is employed, you are doing the right thing to charge her for food and insist that she purchase her own personal items. It will help ease her into the financial realities of being on her own.
Difficult economic conditions are keeping many adult children in their parents' home. But remember, it is your home. A grown child lives with you by privilege, not by right.
If the friction continues, you and your husband might consider subsidizing her in an apartment of her own. The continued success of your marriage could depend on it.