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Neighbors Growing Together | Apr 18, 2014

Grandmother’s empty house needs her family’s full attention

By DEAR ABBY - Abigail Van Buren | Jul 29, 2013

DEAR ABBY: My grandmother made the decision to move to an assisted-living facility two years ago. She left most of her belongings in her farmhouse, which has sat empty since then. Her health is fine, so she should be around for many years. It has already been decided that my dad will inherit the house, but he doesn’t want to live there anytime soon because of the location. (It’s way out in the country.)

I’m afraid the house is going to become unlivable if it sits for years without utilities or anyone taking care of it. Dad mows the grass, but that’s about it, and all of Grandma’s belongings are collecting dead flies. Nobody seems to care but me. Dad has three siblings, and between them there are nine grandchildren. How do I get my family to take care of Grandma’s house? — CONSCIENTIOUS IN KANSAS CITY, KAN.

DEAR CONSCIENTIOUS: Your father may be inheriting the house, but is he also inheriting all of the contents? If the answer is no, there should be a family discussion about the disposition of the furniture, clothing, linens and any possible heirloom items.

I agree with you that nothing good can happen to the house if no one is paying attention. It’s an invitation to theft or vandalism. The house should be cleaned and dusted. The furniture should be covered with sheets to keep it as free of dust as possible. Someone should check the place at least once a month.

If no one else in the family is willing to step up to the plate and help out, because you are conscientious, it looks like you’re elected. If it’s too much for you, perhaps a caretaker could be hired to watch over, or possibly live in, the house.

DEAR ABBY: My son, “Joe,” is 19, a high school graduate living at home with his dad and me until he leaves for college next year. He will be paying his tuition, and we are charging him a token rent ($100/month) while he’s not in school. He eats dinner with us most nights, and I usually do his laundry. He has a part-time job.

This has been working out fine except for one thing. Joe has a longtime girlfriend, and he has been spending some nights at her house. (She lives alone.) We haven’t forbidden this because he’s an adult, and I worry that if we say no he will move in with her. However, we are not comfortable with his spending nights there.

Part of our objection is we don’t like the example it sets for his 13-year-old sister, but aside from that we don’t think it’s a good idea, although we can’t say why. We know they’re sexually active regardless of who sleeps where. Are we old-fashioned, or is it reasonable to ask him not to spend the whole night with his girlfriend? — OLD-SCHOOL PARENT

DEAR OLD SCHOOL: Because you have misgivings about your son spending the night at his girlfriend’s, you and your husband should talk to him about it together. Although he is an adult, I agree that what’s going on sends a wrong message to his younger sister who, unless you talk to her about your family values, will think this is acceptable.

You should also take time to think through why you are uneasy about what your son is doing. If it has anything to do with worry about an unplanned pregnancy, your husband might be able to get through to him better than you can. If he intends to complete his college education, becoming a father could slow him down, if not end it.

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Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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