6/20/2022 | By Amy Dickinson

These retired parents question giving money to their daughter – again. When is enough, especially when grown children are irresponsible and unkind? See what advice columnist Amy Dickinson has to say in this edition of “Ask Amy.”

Dear Amy:

Recently, our adult daughter “Clare” asked us for $4,000 to help her daughter attend an extremely expensive college ($75,000 a year) on the East Coast. We had already just given Clare $5,000 (for another purpose), and we offered tuition and housing for community college. She refused.

My husband and I are retired public school teachers. We sent all three children to universities. They graduated debt-free.

Our monthly expenses exceed our teachers’ retirement, but we have some savings and a little bit of income. Things are tight.

Clare has not managed her money well. When she was in college we sent her $500 a month and she immediately quit her part-time job. She has squandered literally millions on pricey schemes and expensive homes. She now finds herself divorced and close to penniless – yet she refuses to find a job and relies on us for help.

Now her daughter is making similar choices.

Clare and her daughter have not been close or kind to us, and have never stepped up during those rare times we’ve asked for physical assistance.

Both have lied about our treatment of them and have ridiculed our gifts and lives on numerous occasions.

I feel used when they come asking for financial help. Yet I feel obligated! How do we say, “This is not the kind of help we can easily continue to give?”

How do we say “no”?

Tapped Out Teachers

Dear Tapped Out:

concerned couple at home, photo by Katie Nesling Dreamstime. Retired parents question giving money to their irresponsible and unkind daughter – again. When is enough? See what “Ask Amy” says.

If you and your husband saw a child in your classroom whose parents always swooped in to complete their homework, you would see how destructive this behavior is and how it impedes the child’s ability to handle challenges.

YOU have the spending problem.

Your lifetime practice of enabling “Clare” has helped to create an entitled, incompetent, needy, and angry adult who lacks basic judgment – and now she is passing this onto the next generation.

You enable her by giving money because you are too anxious or afraid to face the discomfort you would feel if you stopped.

And then there is this: Clare isn’t even nice to you!

She isn’t nice to you when you give, and she won’t be nice to you if you don’t.

You launched all three of your children into a debt-free adulthood. That’s more than many parents can do, and you did it.

Your duty at this stage of life is to take care of yourselves responsibly. (Will Clare take you in when there is nothing left?)

All requests should be met with: “We’re not giving any more money to you. You can solve your own problems – we believe in you!”

Don’t supply excuses or explanations.

Related: Dividing an estate – does unequal behavior warrant unequal assets in a will?

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers – ranging from retired parents giving money to an ungrateful grown child to grandparenting to DNA surprises. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. 

© 2021 by Amy Dickinson

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