Dear Annie: My husband and I have been married for 27 years, and I always had a good relationship with my father-in-law. When he divorced for the second time, we offered to let him live rent-free in the guesthouse behind our home.
In the past three years, our feelings for him have disintegrated. Dad does absolutely nothing to earn his keep. When he moved in, we bought him a flat-screen TV, gave him furniture and helped decorate. We haven’t asked for money, and he has never offered to lift a finger. Shouldn’t he at least weed his area, clean out his garage and shovel snow around his door?
Dad is 73 and in good health. We pay for his electricity, satellite TV and Internet. We gave him one of our cars, and it took a year before he started chipping in on the insurance premiums. He would never think to have the oil changed.
The money is not the problem. It’s that Dad is so irresponsible, ungrateful and disrespectful. He walks into my house without knocking and scares me to death. He leaves his cigarette butts in a beer can on my front porch. I have him over for dinner once a week, and he eats like a glutton, devouring all the week’s leftovers. He never reciprocates in any way.
I’m sick of his lazy and thoughtless ways, and so is my husband. My father-in-law is completely self-centered, and it is not lost on me why he is twice divorced. What can I do? – Finished with Him
Dear Finished: First talk to your husband so the two of you are in agreement about Dad. Then tell Dad what the new rules are and what you expect. We also suggest you lock your doors, put your leftovers in the freezer before he comes over and start charging him rent.