Failure to Launch

Dear Mr. Dad: Our 27-year-old son lost his job and moved back in with my wife and me. While it’s nice to have him around, it’s been six months now and he shows no sign of moving out. Part of the problem is that my wife and I have very different approaches. I want our son to get his life back on track. But the other day I discovered that my wife has been giving him money every month. She’s even been paying some of his credit card bills for him. This has led to a lot of tension around the house—between me and my wife, and between me and my son. What can we do?

A: Boy are you in a tough spot. Actually, you’re in two tough spots at the same time. On one hand, you’ve got an adult child who is waaaaay too old to be living someplace where he isn’t making a rent or mortgage payment every month. On the other hand, you’ve got a wife who’s actually encouraging your son to keep doing exactly what he’s been doing: freeload. Fortunately, there is a solution. Unfortunately, it’s not going to be easy.
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All of Life’s Riches

Dear Mr. Dad: My wife and I are relatively well off and can give our kids whatever they want. But how can we be generous without spoiling them rotten?

A: First of all, change your perspective: think in terms of giving them what they need instead of what they want. That said, if by “generous” you mean giving your time and love to your children, there’s no need to limit your generosity. The kids will benefit from spending time with you and your wife (and you will too), whether you’re just hanging out, taking walks, talking, or doing something more structured–none of which needs to cost anything at all.

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Pregnant Wife Worrying about Money

Dear Mr. Dad: My wife is 11 weeks pregnant and driving me nuts. She’s worried constantly about our financial situation, her time off work, child care, you name it. She’s mad at me one minute, sad the next, and happy the one after that. Frankly, I’m not really buying the whole “emotional roller coaster” thing. Is she using her pregnancy as an excuse to act this way?

A: Well, there’s good news and bad news. The bad is that the pregnancy roller coaster does exist and your wife’s hormones really are responsible for most of her erratic behavior. The good news is that the ride typically ends early in the second trimester, which you’re just about to start. Until then, try to be as understanding as can be—she’s probably not any happier with her behavior than you are and is finding the whole thing confusing and frightening.
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