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 well-paying job. However, my dad is constantly curious about how much money I have. I loaned him $1,200 nine months ago. He said that 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 another $400 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?
Daughter in Debt
DEAR DAUGHTER: I do have suggestions. Unfortunately, all of 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.
Welcome to adulthood. We have T-shirts.
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 attempt 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 which 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 you 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 own mother burst into the delivery room and would not leave.
DEAR UPSET: I am quite familiar with this phenomenon, and so are hospital staff. They should do their utmost to protect parents.