Parents hit their child up for financial bailout
Q. Over the last 30 years, my father, a salesman who bounced between “commission only” jobs, has regularly borrowed money from family and friends.
This has resulted in defunct friendships and family disputes due to his inability to pay these loans back.
The most disheartening part is that he was using the money to afford a lifestyle for my mother that was never reasonable.
As they’ve grown older, they have been forced to give up some of the things that put them into financial hardship, including memberships to elite clubs and an overextended mortgage in a neighborhood they couldn’t afford.
Now in their 70s and living in an apartment, my father continues to work minimum-wage jobs to make ends meet. I don’t think he has ever been honest with my mother about their financial situation, and she is unaware that he owes money to so many people. She continues to spend because he is not honest with her.
My father continues to ask me for money. I wrote off what I have lent him over the years long ago, but with a family of my own to support I can no longer “write off” anything. I told him I can no longer lend him money. I carry so much guilt for the years he supported me while I was growing up and feel like I’m failing him now.
How can I help him understand that he needs help budgeting and should be communicating with my mother? I fear that my mom will make his life miserable if she finds out the truth.
Not a Loan Officer
A. I hope you don’t actually believe that you owe your father money now because he “supported you” while you were growing up.
You were a child! You repay your folks by paying it forward and by supporting your own children. Of course, adult children should try to assist their elderly parents, but so far, your assistance in the form of unrepaid “loans” has only enabled your parents to live a lie. This has harmed your relationships — and theirs.
Your mother might have some awareness of your father’s financial chicanery. At this stage you should meet with them, together, in order to discuss next steps for them. What if one of them becomes ill or incapacitated? What are their intentions for the later stages of their lives? Realistically, what is your ability to assist them?
Living a lie will always backfire. You can help them try to pick up the pieces.
Approach them with a loving and open attitude.
Q. I’ve been best friends with “Sam” for seven years now. We’ve always had a great friendship and have always been close. Unfortunately, her husband and I don’t get along.
I look past that for the sake of our friendship. About a year ago, Sam, her husband, and her child invited me to share an apartment. Everything went well for the most part. I avoid her husband, so there is no conflict. I usually spend a lot of time at work or in my room.
A few days ago, Sam’s husband and I got into an argument. Sam decided to take her husband’s side. And without speaking to me she gave our landlord her notice to move. So now she’s leaving me in a situation, because I can’t afford to stay here alone. She doesn’t understand why I’m upset. We haven’t spoken in almost a week. I don’t want this to end our friendship!
A. You must face the fact that spouses most often back each other up. Sometimes this means even sacrificing a friendship. “Sam” may have seen the writing on the wall, or her husband may have pressured her to move out.
You’ll need to find other roommates. Speaking optimistically, if you find compatible people to live with, you won’t have to hide in your room. With some distance, your friendship may revive.
Q. Thank you for your response to “Furious Neighbor,” who was considering withdrawing from her neighbor’s life over an incendiary Facebook post. Here’s the line I love: “But should you continue to be a respectful and helpful neighbor to her? Yes, you should. Your behavior should reflect who you are, not who she is.”
A. The high volume of negative responses to my answer didn’t seem to allow for that particular thought. Ultimately, we should all seek ways to reconcile. Thank you for noticing.