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Adult Daughter and Father Relationship


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Initial post: Mar 11, 2008 7:32:09 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 11, 2008 8:14:50 AM PDT
C. Murray says:
First time here. My 44 year old sister has never been married, is unemployed and has no savings. She has held more than 15 jobs since she graduated college. My Dad keeps bailing her out financially. They live 15 minutes from each other. We are, by definition, a family of enablers. My Dad has given all of us (4 children) financial assistance during challenging times and has contributed to our children's 529 plans for college. He brought this up yesterday when he called to ask me to consider giving money to my sister since she is having a tough time. I said no immediately but can't stop thinking about this. My mom doesn't know he asked. Then he asked me to keep this conversation between me and him. I haven't told my husband. I don't even know what to feel. Sad, angry, guilty. What do I do next?

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 11, 2008 11:29:56 AM PDT
I wanted to reply to your post, not because I know what to tell you to do, but just to let you know that I have been experiencing the very same thing. Strength in numbers kinda thing. My older sisters situation is almost the same, but with kids thrown in, divorced and widowed both. Lots of bad decisions.

My parents bail her out regulary and they don´t even have the money. I end up having to bail them both out. I get mad at my parents because they seem to be acting out of some sense of guilt, and then I get mad at my sister because of the dishonesty, manipulation etc, etc.

I´ve tried to talk rationally with her and them and have made some head way, but not much. In the end, I try to help all I can, without putting my wife and kids at excessive risk. I have no easy answers, only empathy for your situation.

I´ve been dealing with this for a long time and have come to the conclusion that the problem is not money. If I gave her a million dollars (which I dont have) it still wouldn´t solve her problems. I just try to make sure her kids have the things they need and that she isnt on the street.

I have found that it is better to give money to things I can control (so I know it gets done). For instance, I will pay for their after school care directly to the provider instead of giving her the money and telling her what its for. I could never be sure it was actually used for that purpose.

Good luck and don´t be too hard on yourself.

Posted on Dec 19, 2012 4:47:49 AM PST
Chilly Down says:
Ironically, my father - who has *always* had money (lived in gated communities, drove nice cars, etc.) - has NEVER given his offspring anything financially, ever. I guess it's pretty much the antithesis of the problems you've been facing. Not sure what the remedy is, but try to have highly defined boundaries in these situations, and follow them consistently. Good luck.

Posted on Dec 19, 2012 9:49:31 AM PST
PM says:
Parents can be so inconsistent when it comes to generosity with their money. My own parents refused to loan me $228 for my last semester of college tuition. My father paid for 4 years, but when I needed an extra semester to graduate, he wouldn't LOAN me the miniscule amount to cover my tuition. Instead he brought home loan application forms from 3 banks!! Of course, since I didn't have a job at the time, I never bothered filling them out. I ended up working for a college residence in lieu of rent, and then was able to pay the tuition myself. I thought that whole episode was pretty ridiculous since my parents had over 1M in the bank at the time. My sister, on the other hand, was still living at home for free and working full-time (min wage)- spending every dime she made on clothes. She worked in a dress shop and every week she would put clothes on hold waiting for her next paycheck!! Then after her life of living with boyfriend after boyfriend, then old man after old man (some married), attending college for only one semester and flunking out, never getting married or having kids, my mom rewarded her with $20,000 for a downpayment on her first house!!

I have never figured out if the pathetic ones are that way because the parents enable them to be so, or whether the parents feel the need to bail them out because they are so pathetic. Kind of the chicken/egg thing. But one thing I have learned in life is that failure is rewarded generously, both within the family and by our government. I have a friend whose older sister is a failure, due to the many bad choices she made in her life. My friend, on the other hand has led a successful and happy life with a solid career. His mother, who has always provided parental welfare to her daughter, is always pressuring him to help his "poor sister" out, but he refuses. His response it is that she (his sister) has had every opportunity that he had in life to better herself. Because she took the "easy road" and made all the wrong choices, spent money she didn't have, she now finds herself broke and teetering on bankruptcy. Her two grown daughters are in the same shape. They even took in foster children as a way to pay the bills!! I find that just atrocious that people like that use helpless children as a way to make a buck. Their foster children were later taken away, probably due to inadequate care.

C. Murray...your father shouldn't expect you to keep this secret from your husband - you have every right to tell him and you should both discuss the issue since it's his money too. But my advice is to tell your dad that just because he feels the need to bail your sister out, doesn't mean you do as well. And just be aware that if you give in and contribute to your sister's bailout fund just once, it will be expected from that time on. So I advise you to steer clear. A few years ago we gave my husband's sister $8k after her husband died because she claimed to be broke. A week later we talked to her and she had just bought a new car!! So my advice is to not let yourself be conned into doing something you may regret. Stay strong and don't let your dad and sister manipulate you with their guilt-tripping tactics!!

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 21, 2012 12:49:33 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 21, 2012 12:50:44 PM PST
tell your dad to stop giving her money

tell her to get a job
or apply for welfare
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Discussion in:  Self-help forum
Participants:  5
Total posts:  5
Initial post:  Mar 11, 2008
Latest post:  Dec 21, 2012

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