Science Dad-in- Law

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I’m a scientist so I believe in testing hypotheses with the scientific
method. That involves postulating an idea and then testing it to see if
repeated observations confirm or repudiate the idea. Here’s my
Hypothesis A: My daughter married a lazy jerk who wants to sponge
off her and my wife/me. Here’s the evidence: He is 26 and has never
had more than a series of part-time jobs. He’s allowed her to work the
full three years of their marriage, and been happy to have her
unemployment support them after she was laid off. His favorite way to
spend time is to drink and play video games with his buddies; second
is to go hunting with his father. He and my daughter have proposed
moving in with my wife and me (happy empty nesters looking forward
to some travelling) “to save money.” This grand opportunity comes
along with their nine-month old baby girl (my first grandchild), so my
wife is more favorably inclined than I am. I work all day, and she’s at
home. What do I want? I want my son-in- law to get a job!! Another
Hypothesis B: I am a Grinch. How would you test these to see which
is true?

Science Dad-in- Law


Dear Science Dad:

They could both be true, but proving the first is your big problem. I
tend towards Hypothesis A, at least in your telling. A 26 year-old
parent who doesn’t work is a worrisome symptom. You could end up
with your daughter and granddaughter in the house at some point in
the future, if your daughter realizes that the slacker in her bed is just
an overgrown child. My first line of defense is this: No moving in
without a steady 40-hour- a-week job (or two 20’s), and a pay stub
and three-month performance review from a boss to prove it. That’s
your son-in- law’s job/paystub/review, not your daughter’s. I’m sorry
she got laid off but unemployment is not forever and they’re going to
have to send someone to earn a living. I’m sure he’s ready to offer to
be a stay at home dad. That’s a very bad investment on her part, at
least by me.



I’d sit them down and have the long-run talk. Ask lots of questions and
then sit quietly, letting them squirm and letting the silence build and
his likely inadequate answers trip over one another. Once he’s
thoroughly enmired, make the offer that if he can demonstrate a
reliable job, you’re prepared to let them move in for a monthly
contribution of $xyz towards mortgage/utilities/food. That offer’s good
as long as he is working. If he loses his job, only your daughter and
grandchild are invited to remain. It may sound like tough love, and
might make me a Grinch also. But arresting this trend asap is a good
start to the new year. An added benefit: you won’t have to come home
from a hard day’s work to see him lounging on your sofa.