DEAR AMY: I am a 28-year-old woman, working at a job I love. My father routinely lies to me. When I was growing up he sold his business for several million dollars. He chose not to pay his taxes, invested the money, lost it all, and then kept it hidden from my mother until the truth came out that he was under IRS investigation. He has always been secretive and deceptive with his money, hiding money in the ceiling, taping it to the backs of photo frames and opening secret bank accounts and bragging that my mom didn’t have access. Fast-forward 10 years. My parents are divorced. I paid my own way through college, spent four years in counseling, and am in the process of buying my first home. My dad agreed to give me $10,000 toward my down payment in lieu of contributing toward a wedding. Two weeks later he denied ever having that conversation. Last month, he was bragging about saving more than $75,000 in 2015. He says he received approximately $500,000 in inheritance. When my offer was accepted on a home, I let him know that I needed him to write the check. He accused me of being “manipulative” and “backing him into a corner.” Now I am angry and bitter. I don’t know if I should still try to work toward having a healthy relationship, or back off with the realization that his money is more important to him than keeping his word. What do you think?
DEAR SAD: I’m wondering what you learned in four years of therapy that you would actually go to your father for money, or believe him when he dangles it in front of you.
According to you, he has always lied, cheated and lost when it comes to money. You should not have any financial dealings with him. Furthermore, you should check your own wallet after spending time with him. He sounds like an operator.
DEAR AMY: Every three years I visit my hometown and stay with my brother and his wife for about 12 days. I make a sincere effort to be considerate, giving them space, doing some cooking and buying supplies. I take them out to dinner and rent my own car. This year they took time off from their business to gadabout with me. I was thrilled they could join me, because visiting them (and other family members and friends) is why I go home. On my departure day, my brother told me which washing cycle to use for washing the sheets. I put the sheets in the washer. I then had to get ready to leave for the airport. When I got home, I got a text from my brother. He said that when he got home the sheets were still in the washer and all moldy (I doubt that). He said, “I’m not your maid,” and implied that I did this on purpose. I was shocked! I sent a thank you card and apologized for forgetting the sheets. I had no idea he felt this way. His wife was pleasant enough during my visit, but didn’t seem energetic or happy. She works from home and they eat most of their meals out. Now I wonder if they even want to have a relationship with me! Right now, I am doing nothing to be in touch. What’s your take?
DEAR COW: My take on this is that 12 days is too long for you to visit. Your brother and his wife have responded to this in an exceedingly passive-aggressive way, but you have apologized, and they should accept your apology.
I hope you will continue to keep in touch with them. This seems to have strained your relationship; please don’t let it end it.
In the future, you should perhaps look for an Airbnb place to stay; then you could spend time with your family members without creating a strain on the household.
DEAR AMY: For “Left-Out Liberal,” who can barely stand to discuss politics because she and her husband disagree, my parents disagreed on religion (she was very active in her church, he was lapsed), and so they agreed from the beginning not to discuss religion. However, in their case they did agree on politics. Politics was the dinner topic every evening of my childhood. The couple should shift to topics they can discuss.
DEAR KATE: This tough political year has a lot of families on a slow boil. I hope we all settle down soon.