A Second Opinion: December 7, 2012

Dear June,
My adult sister moved in with me after having a big falling out with my parents. She has never moved out, and after a major blow up, I invited her to come to my house in an effort to keep the peace and help her get out on her own. Unfortunately, and I suppose not surprisingly, she is not giving me any more respect than she offered to my parents. She is lazy, comes and goes at all hours, and makes comments about my life and marriage. Now I find myself wanting to kick her out! She says that she won’t be able to move out monetarily for at least three months. I have been looking at subsidized housing for her, but she says she doesn’t want to live in anything like that. What can I do? I don’t want to completely alienate her and ruin our relationship, but I feel like her staying would ruin it as well. — Fed Up
Dear Fed,
Now that she is there, some tension looks to be unavoidable. Give your sister six weeks. She will need some time to get some money together, but she will also have to accept that she may not have the apartment or living situation of her dreams. It is clear that you were well intentioned, but your sister is not ready to face up to her behavior. You cannot make her do that, but it is important for you to have a degree of separation from her issues for your own quality of life and to preserve the relationship.
Dear June,
I hate my girlfriend’s decorating taste. We have been dating about six months, and I am really falling for her. I am really happy, and see this is going somewhere really serious. The problem is the way she decorates her apartment. It is so cheesy looking. There is pink, feathers, and leopard print everywhere. To be honest, I even sort of hate to hang out there, it is so extreme. She really loves it, and has put a lot of work into making it look the way it does. I respect her efforts, but hate the result. My fear is that we will move in together, and she will want to make our place look like that. I really don’t think I could handle it. How do I broach this subject with her? — Different Taste
Dear Different,
You are on the right path in thinking this is something to bring up and discuss. How you approach it is very important. It is perfectly fine to disagree on things like how to decorate; indeed this is a common difference. In moving towards discussing this topic, it is important to remind yourself not to assume things. She lives alone now. You are only assuming that she would not tone things down or make changes if you lived together. Living alone allows one to do as she pleases with her space. Most people understand that cohabitation comes with accommodation. Bringing up the idea that you would like your future shared space to reflect both of your tastes can be part of a larger conversation about where you see the relationship going, and that you want a shared space. Applaud her efforts and how hard she has worked, and give her the opportunity to hear you out.
Dear June,
My son has been prescribed medication for ADHD, and they have really been working for him. His grades are up, we don’t get any calls from the school anymore, and everything just seems to move much better. The problem is that ever since Thanksgiving break, he has been refusing to take them. He says that they hurt his stomach, and make him not hungry. We are so worried, and have been fighting a losing battle to get him to change his mind. What can we do? — At Wits End
Dear End,
How long has he been taking the medication? If he has been on it long enough to have had grades improve, he would likely have experienced any negative side effects earlier. There really is no reason that they should be popping up now. If he is malingering, you will need to find out what the real reason is that he doesn’t want to take the medication. Some kids are embarrassed about feeling “different.” The side effects he is describing do often happen with ADHD medication, however. If he does experience a stomachache, the best thing to do is take the medication with breakfast, preferably a carbohydrate. The meds are often an appetite suppressant, but as they wear off around dinner, his appetite will return naturally. Enlist some help. Bring your son to talk with his pediatrician, or just another adult he respects that can help you tease out what is going on.