Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: I am an adult woman living my own life. My early life was chaotic. I moved from my father's home into my mother's when I was 13. Everyone was unhappy, even after family counseling. I continued a relationship with my father over the years. He has had two more failed marriages and has been in and out of jail. He is in jail again. Every time his life falls apart, I am left to pick up the pieces. I have been given power of attorney and I'm left dealing with his legal issues, storing his belongings in my crowded home, accepting collect calls and giving him money. It makes me feel terrible whenever I have to say no to him (because I don't have money) or when I am not willing to do the legwork for him in yet another court case. Despite being educated, I live a lower-middle-class life. I have told him about my personal finances, but he continues to ask for money. Recently I sent him $150 so he could buy personal items in jail. I asked him to write rather than call, but he just tried to call me collect again. I don't want to destroy our relationship by abandoning him, but I can no longer support him. Help!
--Daughter of Wayward Father
DEAR DAUGHTER: Your support so far has done nothing to improve your father's situation or change his decision making, and so you must conclude that you're not a part of his solution.
I am not suggesting you abandon your father. Detach from his problems instead of taking them on as your own.
Facilities vary in terms of what inmates can spend and how they can spend it. Contact the facility (not your dad) to see what inmates are expected to pay for (toiletries, for instance). I do suggest purchasing paper, envelopes and stamps for him. He will need to learn to write down his thoughts, rather than call you collect.
If your father wants to have a relationship with you, it will have to be based on things other than what materially he can gain from you. You should write to him (or visit) to keep in touch. And clarify your position that you will not allow yourself to be a prisoner to his mistakes.