Sunday, March 26, 2006

Roommates

Dear Indigna,

About a year ago, I got married to the love of my life. My husband and I supported my stepson, his girlfriend, her baby, my daughter, her children, my mother and my father. We were all living together in the same house to make ends meet.

Imagine my surprise when I came home early one day and found my stepson and my daughter in a “compromising position”! I immediately separated them and told them how inappropriate it was. Unfortunately, his girlfriend heard the commotion and stormed out of the house. I was glad to have a little more space, but she left her baby behind, who is not my stepson’s daughter. In fact, I have no idea who the father of this baby is.

A week later, I came home and found my stepson “making out” with my mother! Of course, they were both embarrassed, but no matter how disappointed I am in both of them I figured as long as my father didn’t find out, no harm done. I mean, at least my mom is an adult. I just cleaned up the mess and didn’t say anything, figuring that they had both learned their lesson by being caught.

Three days later, my husband and daughter came to me to tell me that they were in love and planned to move in together. I asked my daughter what happened to her and my stepson, which caused my husband to look at her really funny, but she said she preferred “mature men.”

Now, here’s the deal. Everyone is still living here because they can’t afford not to. My daughter simply traded places with me and now sleeps in the master bedroom with my husband and I sleep in the coat closet. My husband quit his job to spend more time in bed with my daughter so I am now supporting the entire family.

The thing is, most of them spend a lot of time watching TV, playing video games, adjusting the thermostat and staring into the fridge with the door open, all of which can add up if you’re not careful. My question is, is it fair for me to ask everyone to pay a share of the utilities, even though they don’t have income? If so, do I divide it just by the grownups or should I include the children as well? Does age matter? The baby, of course, can’t help out but my daughter’s six children are in their teens and early twenties.

Broke and Hurting,
San Antonio, TX

P.S. My father has taken up with my stepson’s ex-girlfriend so she’s living in the house again. Does she count as a family member or is she a guest? Is the fact that she is a minor of any significance here?

P.P.S. My daughter is pregnant again, but she doesn’t know who the father is. Does the unborn child factor into the equation?

Dear Broke,
This is appalling! Okay, so there are what, 14 people living in your house? Unless it’s a frigging mansion that sounds like a housing violation if I ever heard one. Sleeping in the coat closet?! I have half a mind to come down there and cite you myself! Plus, your household sounds really unsanitary.

That said, let me address your question about utilities. Frankly, this is such an easy one that I am mortified on your behalf that you couldn’t figure it out for yourself. Listen, only you, your husband, your father and your mother are technically “adults.” (People in their twenties are not grownups.) Do the right thing by yourself and by them and divide the bill only among the people who have a reasonable chance of actually paying it. That means you pay the whole thing, since helloooooo, you’re the only one who is employed! It’s the least you can do, for crying out loud.

P.S. What kind of monster are you to consider charging a minor for her share of the bills?

P.P.S. No.

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