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Honest Aunt: Ask Noah

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Q: I'm a successful, single, city-dwelling woman in my thirties. My twenty-one year old niece just graduated college and has decided to move to my city. I'm not sure what my niece's thoughts are in terms of where to live, but I feel guilty that I haven't already offered her my extra bedroom. Truth is, I don't want to play guardian or compromise my social life. Am I being selfish?

A: No, you're being reasonable. You know yourself, and if you feel you'd end up playing nervous aunt or angry babysitter, it isn't selfish to resist housing your niece. Do not feel guilty about valuing your privacy and honoring your independence.

I assume you're trying to date, maybe even find a serious relationship. Indeed, living with a 21-year-old girl would significantly cramp your style! There is nothing wrong with making YOURSELF the priority in YOUR life.

You're not clear on her thoughts yet, and so let's look at the situation from a very young woman's perspective. What 21-year-old girl wants to have a mom-proxy, looking over her shoulder and monitoring her decisions? As a college graduate, she has the opportunity to break away from her family for the very first time... as an 'adult woman!' She wants to make new discoveries for herself and that shouldn't be undervalued or undercut.

I would simply call your niece and begin a conversation. Don't fear her expectations -- rather see her move as an opportunity to become closer. Even if you feel false or nervous, voice your excitement at fortifying your connection with her. You'll then be playing a big role in making her feel at home, without actually having her live at your home.

Of course, she is 21 and will undoubtedly (once she gets involved in her own social scene) stop calling as much or asking you for advice. Regardless, you'll have done your part.

Don't stress about this one, and do what is right for you. Thanks for your great question.

Please send questions and comments to ASK NOAH at

Have a profitable and peaceful week,


Noah Kass is a psychotherapist specializing in addiction, relationship issues and work stressors. He has been Clinical Director at The Dunes: East Hampton and Realization Center in Union Square. Mr. Kass was a frequent guest on MSNBC's "The Dylan Ratigan Show," featured in a segment called "Kass' Couch" and regularly blogs for The Huffington Post.

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