Ask Amy: Son's refusal to commit frustrates mother

November 18, 2013 

Dear Amy: I have raised an idiot, albeit a kindhearted one. Two years ago, my then 34-year-old son got engaged to an attractive, 30-year-old, college-educated woman.

They moved to another city where my son restarted his mortgage business, which had grown moribund in the stagnant economy. His father and I have been helping him financially, but now he is getting back on his feet. While he has struggled financially, his fiancée has steadfastly refused to look for a job. He continues to pay her bills, including her college loans.

I have asked him to either set the date or end the relationship, but he seems incapable of doing either. I realize that marrying her will not fix her work ethic, but he will also not move on.

I am eager to see some grandchildren — I just celebrated my 70th birthday. It is heartbreaking to see him working 12-hour days six days a week, returning home to help get dinner ready — and she refuses to help him financially.

To me, marriage is a partnership and she does not seem to be playing her part in this relationship.

— Failed mother

Dear Failed Mother:

On the one hand, this really doesn't have anything to do with you. On the other, your choices definitely influence your son. You refer to him as a kindhearted idiot, and he is doing his best to fulfill the role you have assigned to him.

If you had not helped him financially, for instance, he might have expected and required more of his fiancée. And your insistence that he make a choice between a lifetime of marriage and children (with someone you clearly don't think is deserving) or ditching her altogether could be exactly what is keeping him in limbo now.

Back off. Do not interfere. You do not have an automatic right to have grandchildren.

Dear Amy: "Dad" wrote to you, worried about his adult daughter's choice to go to Europe and stay with a guy she had met on a cruise.

While I agree with your advice overall, you chose to take a gratuitous dig at the French while delivering your tough love. Mon Dieu!

— French lover

Dear Lover: Well, I figured the French could take it — after all, they've got all the good croissants. But other readers agreed with you.


You can contact Amy Dickinson via email at, follow her on Twitter @askingamy or "like" her on Facebook.

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