Ask Amy

House welcome is limited

Dear Amy: I had a good job working for the city and owned a house. Due to extreme health problems, I had to leave my job. My health is stable now, but I went bankrupt.

My wife had a good job, too, but is now unemployed. I was able to get my pension and Social Security disability payments.

My mother let us move into the basement apartment at her house. My sister lived there for six years and never paid rent. She also never helped my mother. I do everything to help my mother and also pay rent.

My son is 21 and in college. My daughter is 25 and a licensed insurance agent. My daughter made some mistakes with various boyfriends and is now in debt. We wanted her to be nearby; she found a good job and is moving here.

My problem is that the basement is too small for three people, while the upstairs of the house is large. I asked my mother if my daughter could use the spare bedroom upstairs. She said no. She wants her space.

I tried to tell her that my daughter would only sleep there and would spend the rest of her time with us. My children are very upset. My son doesn't even want to come back during his school break. Please give some advice. I feel bad for my kids!

-- Alan

Dear Alan: I'm not sure why you feel bad for your kids -- one is in college and the other is facing a new job with new possibilities. They seem to be on track.

Your daughter could offer to pay rent for a room in the upstairs of your mother's house, or perhaps rent a room in a nearby home and take her meals with you. Your mother sounds unhelpful, but regardless, it is her home and she gets to choose who lives there.

You sound like a good son and a good father. Your children should follow your example and do their best to work and prosper. You and your wife should focus on pulling yourself out of debt so you can afford different housing.

Dear Amy: I'm responding to "No Garlic Lover," who wanted to know how to get her nanny to stop smelling of garlic. As a former nanny who now employs one myself, I understand the value of people who will care for any child in a way they would care for their own. If an employer had attempted to ask me to "remedy" my garlic consumption, I would have submitted my notice and contacted the several families in line who were waiting for my services to become available.

-- Former Nanny

Dear Former: Because this employer and employee had a good relationship and the employee had an extreme odor problem, I felt it would be possible to address it respectfully without people submitting their notice.