Dear Annie: Our son is an educated, well-read, successful married man. We taught him how to keep a home, how to clean, how to groom himself. This has never been an issue.
Since he married five years ago, all things clean have disappeared. His home is filthy. We help out at his house, doing painting, flooring, etc. We are glad to be a part of our son’s life and don’t mind helping — if he just took care of his things and his home.
He also doesn’t seem to care how he presents himself. Recently, his wife had a birthday party for him. He came out looking like he had just gotten out of bed. The bathroom looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in over a month.
He was not raised like this. How do we approach him about this without causing hard feelings? — Embarrassed Mom
Dear Embarrassed Mom: He might not have been raised like this, but clearly something is going on in his home life. Letting go of your house, and yourself for that matter, could be signs of a deeper issue. He could be dealing with depression, anxiety or ADHD. As a temporary Band-Aid, you could offer to pay for a cleaning service — even monthly could make a huge difference. While that might tackle the surface of what is going on, it’s important to look at what is going on inside of him.
Ask him if he wants to go out to dinner or for a walk, and have an open, nonjudgmental conversation with him about how his life is going. And how he is feeling. Hopefully, he will open up. Continue to support and be there for him. If matters do not get better, he might need the help of a professional counselor.
Dear Annie: My daughter died at age 41 after 17 years of marriage. Her husband will always be my son-in-law.
I was one of the first people he called when he started dating again because he didn’t want me to hear it from someone else. He repeated that when he decided to remarry.
I knew that I would have a difficult time attending the wedding. However, I wanted to go to support him and my three grandchildren. When I overheard my granddaughters talking about the wedding, I asked if there was a date selected, because I hadn’t been told. The response was that it was during a time when I had a long-planned trip scheduled. So, they knew I wouldn’t be able to attend.
I don’t know if that was on purpose or a coincidence, but it was certainly a relief. The stepmother is a fine person and is loved by my grandchildren. — I Am a Blessed Papa
Dear Blessed Papa: I am so sorry for the loss of your daughter. As I have written before, there is life before you lose a child and life after. The after is never the same. You sound like an incredible man, and your son-in-law — the father of your grandchildren — shows great respect toward you. Your focus on your blessings is admirable, and it is precisely what leads one to live a more peaceful life.
“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.