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Why Are My Son’s New Wife and Baby Living at Her Parents’ House?

My son, 29, got married in May. His wife, 25, was pregnant with their first child. Her parents insisted on the marriage and micromanaged the proposal, the baby reveal, the bridal shower and the wedding. The couple now has a beautiful baby. But my daughter-in-law chooses to stay at her parents’ house with my son rather than move into the beautiful home he renovated for them. I grant she had a difficult pregnancy, but she gave birth weeks ago and should be recovered by now. I’ve encouraged my son to move into their house. Should I say something to his mother-in-law about giving the couple some independence? She’s clearly the enabler.

MOM

Listen, you are a parent. Your reflexive concern is understandably for your son. I don’t criticize you for that; what you’re describing is a common dynamic in extended families. And from the limited perspective of your letter, it sounds as if your in-laws may be controlling.

But you are seriously minimizing the potential difficulties of the first weeks of a first-time mother, especially after a “difficult pregnancy” and before we know how much your son is pitching in. It may be too much for your daughter-in-law to manage a new baby and resettle a renovated home right now. Or she may have postpartum depression. We don’t know why she’s at her parents’ house or why you’re blaming her mother for it. (You don’t mention how the new parents feel about the arrangement.)

I see little value in challenging your in-laws. It would be more productive to explore your son’s feelings about the setup and encourage him to take on more responsibilities if that’s appropriate. You can also volunteer your help or offer to pay for a baby nurse at their home. I don’t deny this is an unusual situation, but these are early days. Tread lightly as the young family gets on its feet.

I work at a small bank in the suburbs. Our new boss instituted a policy that lets us work from home one day a week, but that day can’t be combined with vacation time or taken if a colleague on our team is also working from home. This is more restrictive than prior rules. Our old boss let us work from home twice a week (without caveats). We hit our financial targets under the old rules, and our new boss works from home for weeks on end. Our local competitors have more flexible rules. I don’t think the work-from-home genie can be put back in the bottle. You?

EMPLOYEE

Well, your bank seems to be proof that it can shove at least some of the genie back into the bottle. (You’ve gone from two days at home to one, right?) I expect this issue to evolve: As we all learn to live alongside Covid, many employers have discovered that workers are productive at home. In a tight labor market like ours, companies will most likely follow their competitors on popular policies like remote work.

As for your situation, you haven’t given me enough to go on. In my experience at work, leverage often counts for more than fairness. (Forget about your boss’s perks!) How easily can you find a comparable job with a better policy? And how hard would it be for your employer to replace you? Unless you feel very confident, I would wait for further developments. I predict they’re coming.

My partner and I were invited to dinner by another couple. They wanted to show us their new apartment and said we’d order in food. We’ve cooked for them, and they know how to cook, so I don’t know why they were ordering in. When they sent us the menu, they included their Venmo account. I was shocked! We’re all adults and gainfully employed. I sent money for our food, but I’m annoyed. Was there another way to handle this?

GRUMPY

Other than calling them cheapskates, you mean? (Kidding!) I see no problem ordering in, but I would have expected the hosts to pay for the food given your history of entertaining them. Still, they made their pay-to-play concept clear before the gathering. If the Venmo wrinkle upset you, you could have begged off dinner.

But I’m glad you went forward with it. We’re all a little weird about money, and we don’t always know what friends are going through. Think of it this way: one less dinner to reciprocate!

We just learned that our 13-year-old son has to go back to school a week early for soccer camp. I think he’s responsible enough to stay in our apartment alone for the week, while the rest of the family stays at my parents’ beach house. My wife adamantly disagrees. You?

SOCCER DAD

I (adamantly) agree with your wife. I love the beach as much as the next person, but so many things could go wrong in a week that even a mature 13-year-old would be ill-equipped to handle. Don’t put him in that position. Does he have a friend on the team he could stay with for a few days? He may be up for that — your wife, too.


For help with your awkward situation, send a question to SocialQ@nytimes.com, to Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on Twitter.

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