Is helping needier daughter more unfair?

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Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

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DEAR AMY: My daughter is upset with me because she perceives that I give her sister too much help. She does not want to discuss it, so at this point her feelings and concerns are unknown. The first daughter is married, with a home and a full-time job with health benefits and a retirement plan. She has two children who are married, have jobs and are self-supporting. The second daughter is divorced, rents and is unemployed. She also has two children, but neither is married or employed. Her children use drugs and have leeched every available cent from their mother. I've helped the second daughter with rent guarantees (she has always paid all the rent). I bought her several cars averaging $3,000 apiece. I helped her children (before drugs) with cars that the first daughter's children have not needed. I think the first daughter should be thankful she has a strong financial future and does not need help, rather than be enraged with sibling jealousy. When the conversation finally comes up, what could I say to the "prodigal daughter's" sister?Upset Mother

DEAR UPSET: Let's imagine that your first daughter doesn't care about the money, but that she does care about her sister. She may see your financial support as "enabling" rather than as an expression of need-based generosity.

The daughter who receives help from you has the less stable life. Your financial support seeps down to her own children, who also have unstable lives. It's hard to know which came first, your support or the instability. You should honestly explore this question.

How many mom-supplied cars does this family need? Surely your financially stable daughter wonders about this. She might be frustrated that your loving support may actually be holding this family back.

She might share this new perspective with you if you ask her, but, until then, it is your right to make choices about how you want to spend your money.