I live with my 24-year-old brother, and my 78-year-old grandfather. My grandfather and my brother pay for the rent and food, more or less, they pay for everything. I contribute to the household by helping my granddad remember to take his medication, helping him cook dinner and clean the house, and making sure he doesn't fall asleep why baking or cooking, which has happened before. My brother and I agreed to this arrangement together and I don't want to get a job, I like the arrangement. Lately, after my brother gets off work, I have been leaving social media to bring him his dinner, and rub pain relieving gel on his joints because he's had arthritis since he was five. My friends hate it even though I have explained in detail that I like our arrangement and why, and they have recently began asking why he can't do things for himself and why he can't act like a grown man. They treat me helping him do things as something that is weird or gross and one went so far as to say I need to get a job and help pay bills because women have equal rights. What is a nice way to ask them to mind their own business?
Rosie (age 21)
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I’ve always been of the mindset that whatever works for you is what you should do, as long as you aren’t hurting anyone (including yourself). Taking care of your grandfather and brother, as well as the house, including cooking and so on, is what you enjoy doing, and Papabear thinks that’s fine. Not that long ago, we used to call people like that “homemakers” or the less PC “housewives.” Being a homemaker was considered an honorable and helpful thing to do with one’s life. There was no shame in it.
Today, as you’ve experienced, Americans expect both men and women to be career-driven; they should “want to do something with their lives.” Well, who says taking caring for one’s family isn’t doing something? (Note: this doesn’t apply to just women; men make perfectly good homemakers and, in fact, many do so). Papabear agrees with you that there is absolutely nothing wrong with what you are doing with your life so long as you enjoy it and find it fulfilling.
That said, you should not be entirely closed-minded to your friends’ advice, not because you need their approval or anything like that, but rather for self-preservation. Let me tell you a short story. My mother was a professional dietician when she met and married my father, and they agreed that when children came along she would quit work, stay at home, and raise me and my sister. All well and good. She didn’t work for decades, and then when the marriage fell apart she ended up with no job prospects because she hadn’t worked for so many years. She had to live with my grandfather, who treated her like a slave until he died (fortunately, she inherited enough from him to survive afterwards). The point is this: had she had a job to fall back on, she wouldn’t have been placed into such awful circumstances for many years. In other words, be prepared.
What happens to you on that sad day after your grandfather dies? And then, say, your brother gets married and doesn’t need you rubbing his joints any longer because his wife helps him? You need to think of such things because what works well now could be gone tomorrow.
Always have a Plan B.
One suggestion I have for you, since you enjoy taking care of others, is a career as—get this—a caregiver. This is a growing business, especially with the soaring number of senior citizens in this country as the Baby Boomers reach retirement. Here is a concise and helpful article about becoming a professional in the field: https://www.caring.com/articles/how-to-become-a-professional-caregiver. You can find employment from businesses that require little or even no previous experience or education, but you will likely do better salary-wise if you get some extra training.
Of course, you don’t have to become a caregiver; you could find another job that strikes your fancy, but that is a suggestion from Papabear. I would also suggest you begin exploring your options now, while you are in a comfortable situation, rather than waiting for something to happen when you become desperate for a job.
As for the question you ask at the end of your letter, try something like this: “I really appreciate your concern about my welfare and your interest in my life, thank you. Right now, things are working well for me and I’m happy, but I am seriously thinking about what you have said and am exploring my options in life.”
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