Effing advice

Joey Garcia wants to join the San Francisco Giants at spring training.

My mother-in-law and her third husband (not my husband’s dad) greedily bought four homes at auction to repair and rent out. They are now over their heads and want my husband to help them pay these mortgages as well as their living expenses. I am strongly against bailing them out, because we always do (this is just their latest moneymaking scheme gone bust) and because we have our own financial issues to weather. My husband’s mother is very manipulative and acts like he is abusing her by not paying her bills. He is barely talking to me. Please help.

Your mother-in-law’s skill in reducing your husband to a passbook savings account was established long before you entered the picture. She is withdrawing cash now but clearly made large emotional withdrawals in the past. This is the kind of mother who was single for most of her child-rearing years and likely hailed her son as “the man of the house” starting when he was 5 years old. She made him her confidant as she struggled with money, men and parenting her other children. As your husband progressed through the normal stages of child development, he gained an extra layer of confusion: conflicting feelings from being his mother’s life partner, co-parent and best friend, instead of simply being her child. Now, after decades of being schooled that it’s his responsibility to rescue her emotionally and financially, he is unable to see the truth. Comprende? He loves you but he’s been indoctrinated by his mamacita.

Your husband believes he’s making bank, emotionally, by rescuing his mother. It’s his idea of being a good son. You, however, realize that the more he gives, the more she expects. It will take copious amounts of good psychotherapy for your husband to wake up from the spell his mother cast. If he refuses counseling, your other option is to convince him to put his mother in your family budget. He can write her monthly checks or one check for the year, but either way the donation is structured and limited. The amount can be based on an average of what has been given in the past or simply what fits your budget. He should not take over the mortgages on the homes she purchased unless he wants to get into real estate. If the latter is true, the homes should be sold to you and your husband so you own them free and clear. Do not go into business with your in-laws. If your husband refutes this, invite a trusted friend who has a savvy business background to sit down with the two of you and do the numbers.

My grandson, a high-school junior, swears as a normal part of his conversations with everyone. His divorced mother gave up long ago on trying to corral his language. I love my grandson; he is a bright and interesting young man with a good heart. But his cursing takes away from what he is saying. I have even seen people cringe when he talks. How do I make him understand that swearing is really just violent language, and as such, it is rude?

Like this: “Oh, honey! Did you see the cashier cringe when you dropped the F-bomb? It looked to me like she felt she was being attacked by you!” I would shape every comment like an observation and never as a reprimand. While watching films, point out that it’s the insecure characters who use violent language. Never tell your grandson not to do it. Just let him know how it feels to you when you hear him swear. Be consistent. Over time (be patient!), he will make more socially conscious language choices.

Meditation of the Week

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