Dear Annie: My brother and I own our parents’ house, which is the house we grew up in. They put it in our names a while ago with the provision that they be allowed to live there for the rest of their lives.
Recently, my brother, his wife and their two children moved in with my parents. They plan to live there for a few years, until their kids are old enough to start going to school, and then move to a town nearby with better schools.
This isn’t a situation where they had to move in with my parents. They are financially secure and are planning to rent out their current home. Recently, a friend of ours who is aware of this half-jokingly told me that I should be collecting rent from them. This started me thinking. Should I ask for any type of monthly payment from them?
— Wondering Sister
Dear Wondering Sister: Family is family. If you are wondering whether you should be collecting rent, I am wondering what you would like the future of your relationship with your brother to look like. If you want it to be peaceful and happy, do not ask him for rent. If anyone should be collecting rent, it is your parents, but that is completely at their discretion.
Two young children not in school can be exhausting for parents. Having your parents around to help out, or to just see their young grandchildren, could be great for all of them. It takes a village to raise a family, and if your brother wants help from his village, let him. The more you focus on your own life and the less you focus on his, the happier you will be.
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Dear Annie: I live in an apartment building retirement community in Arizona. The staff has made us feel quite safe by setting guidelines for social distancing.
We have an outstanding activities director who plans events that keep social distancing but break the boredom. She arranged for the department heads to prepare a “circus,” and they went through the halls ringing doorbells.
They all dressed in clown costumes, and the marketing director wore her son’s tuxedo and was the ringmaster. They hooted and hollered and danced through the halls, swinging Hula-Hoops and dragging a wagon full of stuffed animals.
The event was a big hit and cheered us up!
— Circus Show
Dear Circus Show: Yours is a very uplifting story. Your activities director had a creative idea. Send her a big thank you!
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Dear Annie: Sewing is not just for girls. My son learned how to sew in a middle school class. His sewing skill allowed him to make curtains for his van when he was a wandering college student; to fix his backpack, clothes and tent on camping trips; to make a precise set of window shields for his car; and now, as a research professor, he is working at a major university on a digital fabrication project using common stitch design patterns for possible medical and “smart” fabric applications.
And, he just made a mask for his 2-year-old daughter. So, you never know where a learned skill in childhood will take you.
— Learned a Valuable Skill
Dear Learned a Valuable Skill: Thank you for sharing all of the clever and helpful ways sewing has helped your son — and our society. During the COVID-19 pandemic, few coping skills are as important as knowing how to sew a mask.
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— A native Californian, Annie Lane writes her Dear Annie advice columns from her home outside New York City, where she lives with her husband, two kids and two dogs. Her debut book, Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie, features favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette. Email your Dear Annie questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.