Adult daughter a financial burden Dear Annie
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2018
Dear Annie: I’m a 69-year-old retired widow living on a fixed income. I’m paying monthly on a loan to get some repairs done to my home. My problem is my daughter and son-in-law. They both have health problems, my daughter especially. He gets Social Security disability and Medicare. My daughter has applied for Social Security disability and has been turned down. She has no health insurance at all. They are in deep financial debt. They live off his Social Security check, which isn’t much. He does pay the mortgage on their home and a few other important bills, but he is a hoarder and buys things he doesn’t need.
When they come to visit me, they just have enough money to get them up here and spend some while they are here. When they get ready to leave, they always ask me for money to get them home. I keep telling them that when they come up here, they need to have enough money for all expenses till they get back home. I’ve also sent money to my daughter several times so she can get her prescriptions filled if she is sick. I’ve told her it should not be my responsibility to do that. But if I don’t, she can’t get the much-needed meds.
How do I tell them — and really get it through to them — that they need to take responsibility for having enough money without hurting my daughter’s feelings and without causing my son-in-law to lose his temper? I’m being taken advantage of, and I’m tired of it. — Wrung Dry
Dear Wrung Dry: There comes a time in your life when you have to stop crossing oceans for people who won’t jump puddles for you. Sit down and have a frank conversation with your daughter and son-in-law. Let them know you can no longer give them money but you can give them advice. Perhaps encourage your daughter to file an appeal to have her application accepted for Social Security disability benefits, and implore your son-in-law to seek help for his compulsive hoarding. Whatever they decide to do, it’s not your burden to bear. So cut the umbilical cord and give your daughter a dose of tough love. You have no choice.
Dear Annie: I liked your response to “Snubbed in the South,” who was disappointed her boyfriend didn’t get her a gift. This year, I was saddened to hear from a few of my female friends that their husbands failed to get them Christmas gifts (even though they had bought their husbands gifts). I have been married for 38 years now. My husband likes to show he loves me by doing things for me — but birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas are special times.
Early on in our marriage, we had occasional “what I need from you” meetings. I told him that when it came to Christmas, what I needed was something sparkly, something that smelled good and something soft. Then I proceeded to give him a few ideas in those departments. After that talk, he had a clear sense of how to please me, and he felt happier, too. We also had meetings in which we listed all household and child care tasks and divided them up.
I will also say that we have gone to marriage counselors for a series of visits roughly every decade. I have made the appointments, and he has begrudgingly gone, but he has always been happier and our marriage stronger for having done it. Clear communication has helped keep us happy. — Sunny in Sarasota
Dear Sunny: Some people are resistant to the idea of plainly telling a partner their needs — but after hearing stories such as yours, you have to wonder why. Congratulations on 38 years of happy, communicative marriage.
Dear Annie: I want your readers who think they may have an eating disorder to know that they are not alone and that their condition is treatable. I am living proof!
Throughout my childhood, I struggled with my weight and my relationship with food. When I reached the end of high school, I committed to being “healthy.” I lost more than 50 pounds by eating better and exercising. What a feeling of power it was to have made such a big and (I thought) positive change.
However, when I went away to college, I started to throw up when I thought I had eaten too much. I only did it occasionally, but it crept up eventually to twice a day. I realized that I was purging to cope with my feelings of depression and restricting my food intake to have a feeling of control over my life. My feelings may have been out of control, but I knew exactly how many calories were going into my body at any moment.
I wore my dizziness and lightheadedness with pride. After all, I was getting compliments from people about how great I looked.
Eventually, all the purging and restricting could not keep my depression at bay, and my health started to decline. I enrolled in a treatment program, and I am happy to say it worked. Though I don’t know that I’ll ever be completely “cured,” I live a happy and healthy life now. I want other young women to know that there is help. — Living a Sunny Life
Dear Living a Sunny Life: Thank you so much for having the courage to share your story. Next week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, and people can check their symptoms at http://www.mybodyscreening.org. It takes only a few minutes. It is free and anonymous, and it could change your life.
Dear Annie: The recent news stories of sexual abuse of children have encouraged me to share my story in the hope it helps others. I was sexually abused by my maternal grandfather. I won’t go into details here, but my greatest hurt was when I told my mother. I was about 45 years old and had started counseling. I told her of my childhood experiences and pleaded with her not to tell anyone, saying the counseling was helping and all I asked of her was to give me some confidentiality and support. She expressed sympathy but was not surprised, as this had happened to her when she was younger. Two days later, she called me, said I was lying and told me she and her sisters were going to get a lawyer and sue me if I shared this with anyone. I was so hurt. This split our family apart; she and my brother constantly attacked me verbally and emotionally. Reconciliation was attempted years later, but relationships never were fully restored.
My point here is to protect your children as much as possible, and if there is suspicion of abuse, deal with it immediately. Support them and always give them the benefit of the doubt. The shame of abuse is indescribable. I am glad that now people are coming forth with the truth. — Been There but Doing Better
Dear Been There but Doing Better: I am so sorry that happened, but I’m grateful to you for sharing your story.
Anyone who suspects child abuse should call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline, at 800-4224453. Send your questions for Annie Lane to: firstname.lastname@example.org.