Dear Annie: My husband has a cousin who copies everything we do. This cousin and his wife give new meaning to “keeping up with the Joneses.”
After we bought our home three years ago, “Dick and Jane” decided to sell their place and move into a bigger house. When we buy artwork, they buy artwork. We buy a truck, they buy a truck. We buy a dog, they buy a dog.
We are in the process of moving to a lovely home on the coast, approximately 40 miles from where we currently live. We have only been in escrow a week, and Dick and Jane already are searching for a home in our new neighborhood.
I don’t want to hear that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I’m sick of these copycats. What can we do? — The Unofficially Appointed Mrs. Jones
Dear Mrs. Jones: It’s too bad Dick and Jane aren’t secure enough to be more original. However, you cannot prevent them from moving near you or buying similar artwork, dogs or trucks. You can repeatedly call attention to it in an innocent way: “Oh, I see you bought a sofa just like ours!” Or you can be less kind and more direct: “Please stop imitating everything we do. It’s annoying.” The choice is yours, depending upon how much you want to preserve the relationship.
Dear Annie: Sorry, but you blew it with your answer to “Bumfuzzled in Nashville, Tenn.,” whose 24-year-old son, “Rod,” was too depressed to find a job and sat around the house playing videogames all day and night.
There’s no reason Rod can’t get his lazy behind to work every day, like everyone else. His parents are enablers, letting him do nothing. Tell Dad to put a three-month “countdown calendar” on the boy’s door. When the calendar hits zero, Rod is out on the street with all his belongings. I bet he’ll move fast when it starts raining on his precious music and videogame equipment.
A few months of washing dishes on the night shift at a local restaurant may convince him to join the military or go back to college. I enjoy your column, but you ladies are too warm, fuzzy and soft-hearted for today’s world. — F.S. in West Virginia
Dear F.S.: You think so? Try this one:
Dear Annie: You are so hardhearted. That boy was depressed, and it doesn’t help to tell his father to link going to therapy with his room and board, or insist that he get a job. He’s too depressed to work. How dare you say, “Sometimes motivation comes quicker if it is preceded by a swift kick.” That boy needs sympathy, and you didn’t offer it. — Been There in Nevada
Dear Nevada: They say when you get it from both sides, you’re doing something right. Here’s the final, and best, word:
Dear Annie: Rod is indeed exhibiting signs of depression. I was a welfare caseworker, and one of the primary tools of our “welfare reform” required that clients have a plan to become self-sufficient. The plan, whether drug treatment, completion of their high school diploma or a job search, was prepared with their input and consent, and tied to their goals. The monthly welfare check, instead of a handout, was a support payment for progress in their plan.
These parents may want to consider writing a contract with their son, setting goals and a timeframe, and continue to provide some support while he works toward those goals. Right now, he is making minimum effort, and if they don’t require more, they are sending him a silent message that they don’t think he is capable of more.
Thanks for your column. I enjoy your advice and insight into human beings — always a diverse, wonderful group. — Former Welfare Caseworker in Oregon
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