When the pandemic lockdown began last year, I brought my elderly parents from New York City to live with my husband, our adult kids (who also came home) and me in our home in the suburbs. My parents stayed until July. Since then, they have visited for long weekends and other stays (driven back and forth by me). My problem: I don’t want to live with my parents, but they’ve begun hinting that they’d like to live with us or spend the summer with us, though they never explicitly say so. My parents are very old, but they’re still able to care for themselves. (I do their big shopping for them.) I love them, but I don’t want them here full time. How do I handle this?
I get the two-step of your parents’ shy hints and your reluctance to hurt their feelings. Still, I think the kindest thing here is to have a direct conversation with them. Living with you or staying put are not their only options. Why not help them explore some other possibilities?
Start with a simple statement: “You know how much I love you, but I don’t think it would be good for me or my marriage for you to move in with us. I was thinking, though, you may like to consider some alternatives to living in the city.”
Depending on their finances and, perhaps equally important, the vibrancy of their social network at home, they may welcome a move to an apartment or an assisted-living facility closer to you. They can even try it for a few months before they make any final decisions.
You would likely see them more often this way, but they wouldn’t be under your roof. And helping them find clubs or affinity groups of interest may ease their move to a new place, so they aren’t totally reliant on you. Best of all, you address their hinting productively by helping them to make a decision based on their true options.
But Our Employment Pact!
I’m in high school and looking for a summer job. I planned with my sister and cousin that we’d all work together at the same place. My cousin wants to work at a coffee shop. But when I applied, they never got back to me. I don’t know if they got back to her either. I was recently offered a job at a produce market, which I think I’d like better than working at a coffee shop. I still want to work with my cousin though. Would it be OK to take the job at the produce market even though we all agreed to work together?
It may have been a tad optimistic to think that one small business was going to hire three blood relatives for the summer. Out of respect for your joint plan, though, why not circle back to your sister and cousin with an update?
Say: “I never heard back from the coffee shop. But I did get an offer from the produce market, which I’d like to take. Can I put in a good word for you there, or are you still holding out for the coffee shop?”
Apartment Sitting … Plus One?
My husband and I relocated to another city for work. His brother agreed to look after our apartment until we decided whether to sell it or rent it. After we left, my brother-in-law asked my husband if he could bring his girlfriend from another city to stay in our apartment for an unspecified period. This made me uncomfortable: He still lives with his wife, though he claims they sleep in separate bedrooms and plan to divorce. But I like his wife, and I’ve never met his girlfriend. I said no. Now, my brother-in-law is furious with me. Should I relent?
It’s not unreasonable (or prudish!) to refuse your brother-in-law’s request to let a stranger use your apartment — as a love nest or otherwise. It’s your home; you and your husband get to decide who stays in it.
This question becomes even easier (for me) given the amorphous state of your brother-in-law’s marriage and the likelihood of awkward gatherings with your sister-in-law in the future. Let him find a place on Airbnb for his girlfriend! Of course, unless you have security cameras, you’ll probably never know if they use the apartment anyway.
Snip No More
During the pandemic, I’ve been giving haircuts to people in my pod. I’m not a hairdresser by any means; I’m just good at following YouTube instructions. One friend has been so happy with my haircuts that she said she won’t have to go to her stylist anymore. Now that my friends and I are fully vaccinated, how do I tell them nicely that my services are no longer available?
The next time a friend asks for a haircut, just say: “I’ve hung up my shears for now. It was a lot of pressure not to mess up.” Or, tell them you’ve joined the ranks of celebrity stylists who charge many hundreds of dollars (some as much as a thousand) for a chop. Either approach should take you off the hook.
For help with your awkward situation, send a question to SocialQ@nytimes.com, to Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on Twitter.