My Son-in-Law has no Ambition

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Even as a teenager our daughter, Lizzie, always brought home “strays,” those boys who would never amount to anything. She was a born rescuer. Despite our repeated warnings she eventually married one of these unpromising fellows, Mike, and our predictions have come true: she works, he doesn’t. Mike’s behavior might have been defensible when their only child was a baby, but now that “baby” is in elementary school and Mike is still hanging around the house. This situation is driving my husband, Eddie, nuts because to him a husband is the breadwinner, period. Eddie has been telling Lizzie to dump Mike for ten years, and, while I see his point, I’m afraid we’re going to lose her over this. I’m caught in the middle between father and daughter. Where do we go from here?

The Panel Weighs In

Peter: Eddie has to keep his mouth shut because his daughter is an adult, and he needs to be supportive of her decision. He is totally wrong and needs therapy to stop his stupid behavior. He’s got to live with the situation—silently—even if it sticks in his craw.

Joyce:I think Eddie is right. Mike is mooching off his wife and it’s despicable. He’s a loser. Eddie should take the younger man out to lunch without the women and read him the riot act. Then he should tell his daughter to open a separate checking account and, if he’s subsidizing the couple, only pay into that account.

Rob: Eddie has to let live and let go. If Lizzie and Mike have an understanding that is working for them, he has to respect that. This generation has a different idea of gender-related roles. However, if Eddie is enabling the situation by giving the kids money, he’s justified in making the allowance contingent upon his son-in-law working.

Kathy: Eddie is giving Lizzie good advice, but the four of them need to go into therapy together to lessen the tension and accept that Mike is never going to change. The wife needs to keep her eyes on the prize, though, which is an ongoing relationship with her daughter and granddaughter while sympathizing with her husband. That’s a fairly common position but a hard one to pull off.

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