Outside party may stir action

TUESDAY, OCT. 30, 2007

Dear Annie: My 20-year-old daughter goes to college full time and holds down a full-time job. The problem is, “Nia” has terrible hygiene habits. Her room is always trashed with dirty clothes and papers. She has old food and half-full drinks all over the place, and wrappers and trash everywhere. She showers every day but rarely brushes her teeth. She has friends but doesn’t socialize with them. She is on the Internet for hours at a time.

Nia is bright but just doesn’t care about her appearance. She does lack self-esteem but tries really hard to hide it. I really see her as socially awkward.

I have tried therapy and talking with her, but nothing helps. A doctor gave her medication for depression and put her in group therapy, which she did not like, and she did not get any better. She has had three boyfriends, but that was in name only. I don’t know what to do. Nia has a solid, intact family, and we can’t figure out why she doesn’t understand that taking care of yourself matters. – Need Help

Dear Need Help: Many 20-year-olds are slovenly about their personal space and hygiene habits. It often takes an outside party (a boyfriend, a boss) to make an impression. The real issue is that Nia seems to be retreating from social contact. Your daughter should see a physician for a complete checkup, and you should alert the doctor to your concerns in advance. It’s possible her problems are medical, and she also might be more inclined to listen if the doctor makes suggestions.

Dear Annie: My in-laws invited my 13-year-old son to go to England next summer. I assumed they were treating, as they have plenty of money. However, when we met to discuss the specifics of the trip, they informed me it would cost us a little under $4,000. I had already told my son he could go, but I never would have agreed if I knew they were expecting us to pay.

I think if you invite a grandchild on such a trip, you should pay. What do you say? – Surprised in Iowa

Dear Surprised: When grandparents invite a grandchild on an overseas trip, it is understood that they are paying for most, if not all, of the excursion. Your in-laws should have made it quite clear when they initially issued the invitation that they expected you to foot the bill. It was unfair of them to let you think otherwise (and allow you to inform your son) before dropping the other shoe. If the money is a hardship, you should have no qualms about telling your in-laws the trip is off. If you can afford it, however, please let your son enjoy this time with his grandparents. It will be a great experience for him. And you’ll know better if there’s a “next time.”


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