Carolyn Hax: Advice

Adult son still lives at home

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: My son is 35 and is gainfully employed, but still lives with me and my husband. His two siblings, as well as cousins and other assorted family members, frequently bring this up in an extremely negative light.

But here’s the thing: The arrangement pleases the three of us quite well. It is great to have a built-in person to watch the house and take care of the dog when we travel, and my son also helps out with a lot of projects around the house. He is saving a great deal of money living here, plus he will be in an excellent position to care for his own house someday.

But the comments about this arrangement are becoming more frequent, to the point that my son’s cousins and siblings bring it up every time they see him. My sister remarked that she thinks my son is stunted.

Failure to Launch

Maybe you’re right and maybe the clucking hens are right, but this is certain: If you take this on, then you are over-involved in the business of your adult son. “He’s an adult and it’s his life, so I suggest you discuss it with him directly” is your response from now on to any and all expressions of concern for his emotional and residential health.

Hi, Carolyn! What makes something a celebration, other than proximity to the event being celebrated? If you have to wait a year to go on your honeymoon, isn’t it really more of “that vacation we’ve been saving up for”? If you have to postpone your anniversary dinner, what distinguishes it from any other date night? If you achieve something you’re proud of and, for various legitimate reasons, your partner can’t celebrate with you for a few months, it kind of just turns into a flimsy excuse to try that new cocktail bar, right?

Don’t get me wrong, I love vacations, date nights and cocktail bars. But what exactly makes them celebrations, as opposed to doing the things for their own sake, other than the date on which they occur?

Celebration?

The decision to celebrate is what makes it a celebration. If you think about it, a lot of the proximity you talk about is made up, too. Why is a roast beast on Dec. 25 different from a roast beast on Dec. 26? Because we decided it was, a long time ago (for reasons that apparently don’t track with the event being celebrated).

Maybe think of it this way: If you do something for which you’re paid $100, it’s still your reward for work performed — whether someone hands you cash on the spot when you’re finished, or whether the check finds you six months later after a series of paperwork hassles. Right?

So, here’s to flimsy excuses (clink).

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com.

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