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Ask Mr. Dad: Adult child who moved back home should act age

Mon., Feb. 2, 2009, midnight

Dear Mr. Dad: My 24-year-old daughter just moved back into my home, which I also share with my 80-year-old mother.

She recently quit her job as a nurse and is working as a bartender instead. Many nights she doesn’t come home at all, and rolls in at 6 or 7 a.m. I don’t ask questions – she’s an adult. But I have asked her repeatedly, just out of common courtesy, to let me know if she’s going to be out all night.

First, this is so I can go to sleep and not worry every time I hear a noise. Second, her dog keeps me up half the night with his pacing and whining and won’t stop until my daughter gets home.

Still, she refuses to let me know. How can I convince her to check in for everyone’s peace of mind?

A: You said it perfectly: she’s an adult. And at 24, she should start acting like one – treating people with the same level of respect she’d like from any guest in her home.

It’s perfectly reasonable to tell your daughter exactly what you wrote: that she’s causing you and your mother to worry and that her dog is keeping you up at night.

If she’s going to stay out all night, she needs to let you know well in advance, and make arrangements for someone else to take care of the dog. It’s your house and you’re entitled to set the rules (and those are pretty easy rules to live by).

You’re happy to host her for as long as she needs, but only if she’ll stop acting like an irresponsible and inconsiderate teenager. If she refuses to go along with the program, tell her she’ll have to find another place to stay.

Dear Mr. Dad: My best friend just became a father. I used to spend three or four nights a week with him and he constantly called, texted, or e-mailed as well.

Since the baby has been born it seems like he has begun systematically cutting me out of his life. Hardly any e-mails or texts, and I am only invited over once a week or so now. I have not talked to him about how I’m feeling but when we talk on the phone he acts like nothing has changed.

I feel like I’m being very selfish but I really miss my buddy a lot. Is there anything I can do to get him back?

A: What you’re describing is pretty typical behavior for new parents, so don’t take his behavior personally. Chances are he’s not deliberately trying to cut you out and I’m sure he misses you, too.

There are a number of things going on. First of all, his primary focus is (as it should be) on taking care of his baby and his wife.

Any spare time he’s got left he’d just as soon spend trying to catch up on the sleep he’s missing.

Second, his natural inclination is going to be to spend more time with people who understand what he’s going through – and, since it sounds like you’re single with no children, you’re not on the short list.

Third, his wife may be jealous. If he spends time hanging with you, she deserves a break, too, right? But with all the pressures of new motherhood, that’s not going to happen for a while.

Bottom line: be patient.

Your relationship with your buddy has changed – and may never be the same. But with time, you can use the foundation of the old one to start building a new one.

Armin Brott is an Oakland, Calif.-based author of six best-selling books on fatherhood. Find resources for fathers at www.mrdad.com.


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