My daughter, who is 39, is married with 2 daughters. They have decided to do a major addition to their home BUT they want free help from her brother, my son who is a contractor. At the same time, they are going on a big trip and expect my son to do most work while they're gone. There has been no mention of any pay and in return, my son throws off his frustration at my husband and I by being moody and feeling taken advantage of by his sister. Should we discuss this with him? Should I say something to my daughter about paying her brother for his hard work or should I just stay out of it and keep my mouth shut? -- Butting in Betty
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Dear Butting in Betty --
From the sounds of it, you're stuck in the middle of what could be the start of a family feud. Are you sure you know all the details? Could they have worked out some sort of deal that you are unaware of? If your daughter hasn't offered to pay monetarily, could she be scratching his back in another way so to speak? Perhaps babysitting, or could his work on the house be pay back from a previous deal they made with each other?
Although you are their mother, and it's your second nature to want to make everything OK in your family, I advise you to stay out of this one. Your kids are grown adults who can make their own decisions so getting in the middle is bound to stir the pot even thicker. If your son is taking his anger out on you and your husband, I think it's more than fair and appropriate to address that, but do so in a neutral manner - don't take or play favorites, rather let him know you don't appreciate being the brunt of his misdirected frustration.
Hopefully your kids can work this one out without involving mom and dad and you can soon get back to being a nice big happy family! Good luck.