ASK AMY

She must keep debt, and dad, at bay

Baltimore Sun - - ENTERTAINM­ENT -

Dear Amy: I’m 23 years old and cur­rently in a lot of debt. I’ve been do­ing my best to pay it off. For the last year, I’ve held a well­pay­ing job. How­ever, my dad is con­stantly cu­ri­ous about how much money I have. I lent him $1,200 nine months ago. He said he just needed a lit­tle help with some bills.

How my par­ents han­dle their bills is none of my busi­ness. I’ve talked to my mom about it and she thinks it’s wrong of him to be ask­ing his youngest daugh­ter to pay his bills. She is also lend­ing him a lot of money. Amy, I just gave him $400 more to pay his cell­phone bill.

A cou­ple of days ago I was on the phone, telling him about a sit­u­a­tion I was in. He in­ter­rupted me, ask­ing me to put more money into his ac­count. He has never paid me back any­thing, even though he says he will. I don’t even want to an­swer his calls any­more be­cause all he wants from me is money. I love both my par­ents very much. Any sug­ges­tions?

Dear Daugh­ter: All my sug­ges­tions in­volve do­ing one of the tough­est things a young-adult daugh­ter can do, which is to be more of a grown-up than her dad.

You need to ini­ti­ate this con­ver­sa­tion. Here is some sam­ple word­ing: “Dad, I love you. I’m grate­ful to you for many things. But this has got to stop. I’m not giv­ing you any more money. I wish you wouldn’t ask for it, but even if you do, I’m go­ing to say no. I’m not go­ing to dis­cuss my fi­nances with you. I’m on my own now. I’m re­spon­si­ble for my own bills. This be­hav­ior of yours is hurt­ing our re­la­tion­ship. Do you un­der­stand?” Re­peat this as many times as it takes. Ex­pect him to try to ma­nip­u­late you fur­ther.

Your fa­ther seems to have got­ten him­self into a ma­jor jam. Your mother should in­ves­ti­gate and/or force him to dis­close why he is in­sol­vent. But you are not the so­lu­tion to his prob­lems.

A great rule to fol­low when re­peat­edly “lend­ing” peo­ple money is to con­vey to them, “When you re­pay the money I’ve al­ready lent to you, I will con­sider lend­ing you more.” This neatly spells out the ar­range­ment, lend­ing cred­i­bil­ity and trans­parency to fur­ther trans­ac­tions.

Dear Amy: I’m re­cently re­tired, af­ter work­ing full time for al­most 50 years. I’ve been a care­giver all my life, in­clud­ing ex­ten­sive care­giv­ing for my par­ents, who are chal­leng­ing and nar­cis­sis­tic. My hus­band and I both come from ex­tremely large fam­i­lies and we’ve lived out of state for many years. We have strug­gled to get home to at­tend to fam­ily mat­ters.

Nei­ther fam­i­lies were/ are un­der­stand­ing or sup­port­ive of the chal­lenges brought on by dis­tance.

I’ve raised three chil­dren, one of whom has a dis­abil­ity. I am now car­ing for my grand­daugh­ter four full days a week.

I’ve al­ways been a peo­ple pleaser; how­ever, I’m feel­ing spent. It’s like I’ve de­posited into ATMs all my life but have never re­ceived any with­drawals.

I still want to do for oth­ers, but in some sit­u­a­tions I find my­self with­draw­ing. I feel bad for my hus­band be­cause he’s los­ing his car­ing, com­pas­sion­ate, help­ful and hard­work­ing spouse to some­one he doesn’t know. And I feel bad be­cause what has al­ways come nat­u­rally to me is no longer sat­is­fy­ing.

What should I do?

Dear Peo­ple Pleaser:

You sound de­pressed and de­pleted. You should save your­self while you still can. Chang­ing your life will start with be­ing will­ing to say “no.” It’s im­por­tant to un­der­stand and be­lieve that peo­ple who love you will still love you, even if you aren’t solv­ing their prob­lems for them.

I’m sug­gest­ing that you treat your­self as well as you treat oth­ers. You could start with your child care com­mit­ment. If you could cut down from four days to two, you could take those two days and work on your own men­tal, emo­tional and phys­i­cal health.

Dear Amy: “Dis­traught Dad” didn’t no­tify grand­par­ents right away when his child was born. You don’t seem to re­al­ize that many grand­par­ents are hor­ri­ble, pushy and in­tru­sive dur­ing a birth. My mother burst into the de­liv­ery room and would not leave.

Dear Up­set: I am fa­mil­iar with this phe­nom­e­non, and so are hos­pi­tal staff. They should do their ut­most to pro­tect par­ents.

Copy­right 2019 by Amy Dick­in­son

Distribute­d by Tri­bune Con­tent Agency

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