Dear E. Jean: My mother, whom I adore, can’t hold a job, can’t make the right choices, and is a totally charming freeloader. For as long as I can remember, it’s always been just the two of us, but now she has a male “friend”who has no job, no money, and no car—and is 26. (PS: I am 26.) My mother and I share a two-bedroom apartment. I don’t make a huge salary, but I try my best to keep our apartment afloat—the rent, the food, the pet food, the electricity, and tons more things I can’t even remember. What gets me (and this is really why I’m writing to you) is that this male “friend” stays at our apartment for free, eats free, and drives both our cars free. She’s blind to this man! He wrecked my car last week, and I had to pay the insurance deductible. E. Jean! I’m tired! Please help!—Too Nice
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Miss Too, Darling: The kindest thing you can do is force your mother—a magnificent woman whom I deeply respect for getting away with this BS all these years—to stand on her own two feet. She’ll hate it, but independence will help her figure out who she is and plan for the future. As for her choice in men? That we can’t control. So: Move to a chic studio apartment of your own, let your mother have the two-bedroom, and help her with the rent for the first three or four months. Then cease. There is a second advantage to this plan. Your mother (and probably everybody) has told you “this is how the world is.” It’s not, and your new life is gonna be fabulous!
This letter is from the Ask E. Jean Archive, 1993-2017. Send questions to E. Jean at E.Jean@AskEJean.com.