Ask Amy

Family stuff is aired on Facebook, not in person

Chicago Tribune

Dear Amy: Our daughter-in-law occasionally vents her feelings about a family problem on Facebook. My wife and I do not use Facebook, and so we hear about this from friends.

I would like to sit down with her and our son, and explain that family matters should be kept in the family and not vented on Facebook.

I do not want to see a wedge being driven between us, but I am afraid this will happen if she continues.

Do you think this is the right way to approach this?


Dear Concerned: It would be very easy for you to say, “Family matters should be kept in the family, and not vented on Facebook,” and for your daughter-in-law and son to respond, “Well, we disagree.”

And then they could take to Facebook and complain about how you and your wife are always telling them how to behave.

It is not your job to tell your daughter-in-law and son about the appropriate venues to express themselves.

It IS your job to tell them how their behavior affects you.

Your daughter-in-law might believe (naively, of course) that she is talking to her friends when she vents about family matters on FB. But (if her posts are public), when she posts on Facebook she is talking not only to her friends, but to their friends, and then their various friends and connections – through an endless series of loops, until it has reached all the way to me.

Before talking about this, you should have specific examples of what it is that you object to (your friends might be exaggerating this issue).

And then you should say, “We find it embarrassing to learn from other people on social media that you have a problem with us. Can we please talk and work things out together?”

Then you must leave it to them to make a series of choices. You must make choices, too.

In the future, when friends report this to you, you might respond, “We understand that this is happening, but we’d rather not hear about it.”

Dear Amy: I am 3 years, 11 months away from retiring. I am an attorney working full time for a company in a non-lawyer position, although my customer base is primarily lawyers (I was hired because I am a licensed attorney).

The job is very easy but low paying. The trade-offs were huge but it made sense to give up the money and go corporate.

The problem is that I have a very difficult time focusing on the job. I find the job and the environment boring and money is always a problem.

My husband is retired and I have always been the primary earner in our family. My children live on their own, but we contribute.

I was hoping you could point out some things I could do to be more focused and positive about my job. At my age (62) finding a better job is unrealistic.

Work Weary

Dear Weary: I’m sorry your job is boring ... but at least the pay is low, right?

You could approach this along two tracks. One is to take the financial pressure off by weaning your adult children from your financial support. Remember that it’s OK for them to struggle. You shouldn’t continue to shoulder their rightful adult burdens.

Secondly, you should see if you can transfer within your company to a job that might be more stimulating and commensurate with your skill set. This wouldn’t involve a lengthy external job search, and would notify your employers that you are eager for more stimulating work.

Also, pursue efforts outside of your job which would be stimulating and useful. You might explore becoming a volunteer legal adviser for children in the foster care system, for instance. This experience could be a game changer for you.

Dear Amy: I’d like to applaud your answer to “Wondering Mom,” who asked how much detail she should give her daughter about alleged hostile behavior she experienced from the child’s father.

I left my now ex-husband due to domestic violence, taking my daughter (who was a toddler at the time) with me.

As the years have passed and she asks why we don’t all spend time together, as tempting as it has occasionally been to throw him under the bus, my scripted answer is that everyone is happier and better off when Daddy and I don’t spend time together ... and I reinforce that we both love her.

Happily Apart

Dear Apart: Great answer. Thank you.

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