Dear Abby: Should a 23-year-old son pay room and board even though he spends little time at home and eats out often? He doesn’t do laundry or help around the house. His argument is, we shouldn’t take money so he can save and buy a condo. We are middle-class people and, at times, some bills are hard to pay. Our 20-year-old daughter contributes $100 a week, but she earns considerably more than he does. He is laying a guilt trip on us, and now I’m questioning whether our daughter should pay if he doesn’t. Your advice will help us clarify how the household should run. — Temporarily Confused Mom
Dear Temporarily Confused: Your adult children should both contribute because the income is needed. Since your son earns less than your daughter and can’t afford to pay as much as she does, perhaps he should pay the same PERCENTAGE of his income as his sister. However, if that’s not feasible, he should absolutely be doing chores around the house to make up for it. The longer you coddle him, the heavier his guilt trips will become and the greater your frustration will be.
Dear Abby: Does it seem to you that the definition of the word “fiance” has changed? It used to mean a future spouse, someone whom you were committed to marry after a planned engagement period. Now, though, it seems to mean merely the person with whom you are currently having sex, or with whom you have a baby in common. Am I right? — Old Fogey in Phoenix
Dear Fogey: The definition of fiance has definitely changed since the inception of this advice column. Well into the 1960s, when a couple said they were engaged, it meant they would be married — usually within a year. However, over the last 20 years or so, I have received mail from women referring to the father of their children or the men they have been living with for an extended period as their “fiance.” (Men, not so often.) For anyone interested in reading more about this subject, go online and search for a fascinating article that appeared on Slate.com. The title is, “What Do You Call the Person You Are Probably Never Going To Marry?” by Hanna Rosin. I highly recommend it.
Dear Abby: I was recently invited to a potluck baby shower. I have also been invited to potluck weddings! I always thought the point of a shower/wedding was providing for your guests while they provide gifts. Food is not expensive, and if money is an issue, one could schedule a shower outside of mealtimes, or with simple tea and cookies. I’d appreciate your thoughts on this. — Potluck Baby Shower
Dear Potluck: My thought is: If the concept of a potluck baby shower or wedding is offensive to you, rather than judge, you should send your regrets.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.