My husband’s grandson lives with us and never says thank you. Why should I keep cleaning up after him?

Our elder has some strategies to help change his habits.

Dear EWC

My husband’s 20-year-old grandson has been living with us for four months because he was offered a job close to us. He’s a pleasant enough kid but having him here is painfully thankless. He gets meals, pays no keep and has a lovely messy room in the basement to himself. He never says thank you for anything. He eats and leaves his dishes next to the sink for me or my 91-year-old mother, who also lives with us, to clean. My husband dances around, offering him food, offering the leftovers for his work lunch and announcing the menu ahead of time for his approval. He’s never once shown any appreciation for anything and I can feel my blood pressure going up. He speaks little of finding his own place, but then why should he? Please help me… my husband’s family didn’t want us to be together, the boy’s mother more than anyone and I think my husband feels guilty and as such ignores this situation.

NanaPopo replies

What a perfect situation. Free room and board. Who wouldn’t love it? Except you are the one left to clean up the mess. No wonder you are starting to boil.

First you need to discuss this with your husband. Don’t accuse. Ask him if he’s noticed that the boy doesn’t clean up after himself. Ask him what he thinks about that. Try to find out if what you think is true, but listen because maybe it isn’t. Does he have any expectations about what the relationship between all of you should be? Should the boy be paying some rent or at least cleaning up after himself?

Once you know what’s behind your husband’s actions, then you can begin changing things. He has a job so he should be paying some rent and if he’s eating all his meals with you, he should contribute to the food bill also.

It would be good if your husband were with you when you talk to him. Tell him you are happy you are able to help him get started in life and how wonderful it is he has a job. Then tell him that when he was a child, his mother picked up after him, but now that he’s an adult, he is responsible for cleaning up after himself. You don’t have to look at his room—leave that to him. But he should not be leaving dirty dishes for you to wash. And he should be responsible for making his own lunches. Try to be pleasant and keep the conversation positive. This will work best if your husband agrees with you. If he does not, you could have him wash all the dishes for a while.

Then comes the implementation. On the date you set, he should give you money in whatever amount you decide. If he doesn’t, you remind him that the rent must be paid on time so you need to get his portion from him now. No excuses. If he leaves dirty dishes for you, don’t wash them. When he comes home, remind him of his responsibilities. That may bother you, but unless he sees you are serious about him changing, he won’t.

If he complies, then be sure and say something like, “It’s so nice to see young people being responsible.”

Being responsible is an important life lesson to learn. If your husband looks at it as helping his grandson, perhaps it will be easier for him to help in changing the boy’s bad habits.

Letter #: 427838
Category: Family

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