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A dilemma

Started by Bamboo2, March 05, 2016, 08:46:44 AM

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Hi Wise Women,
It's been five weeks since DDs BF (or dare I say "ex"??) moved out of their shared apartment.  DD is struggling to pay bills, especially since she had an income gap for a couple of weeks.  She said she is down to her last $100 after paying the rent today.  She has not YET asked for money, but we know it is coming.  Also, her car is probably going to require some work soon.  OK, those are HER problems, not mine.  So why do I feel like this is going to become my problem soon?  Her foolish choices, right? Just as an FYI, I took her out to dinner recently and she asked if I would buy her some groceries, which I did.  I don't think she is still in contact with the BF but I know some of his things are still at "their" apartment and I noticed both he and his mom had "liked" something she posted on FB recently. (I know, I should quit looking at FB!) So I honestly don't know the story, and she doesn't want to say anything about him or their relationship these days.

Anyway, I want to be prepared for her eventual question about us loaning or giving her money.  She still owes us half the money for the last car repair, which I had later offered as a gift, but she insisted she wanted to pay us back.  By next week she will have more bills coming, some necessary and some not (like cable, Netflix and wireless).  I'm burned by her poor spending habits over the years and wasteful racking up of miles on her car.  And I admit some of this is my emotional reaction to her sense of entitlement (only eats at nice restaurants, buys the nicest furniture, fine clothes, apartment with modern amenities...), driving BF to and fro, driving to our city weekend after weekend only to see HIS family and not us, and her wasteful going out to eat and treating him about every single time. 

Can you see how when she asks me for money, even if it is a loan, it is going to provoke an emotional reaction in me?  I know...I am responsible for my own emotions.

The other day she told me she is planning to get a cheaper apartment once her lease is up, but the rent will still be about half her income.  She is trying to decide between a place with an indoor pool or one that accepts dogs, because of course she wants a dog and has historically been unable to delay gratification. 

Please tell me what I should say.  Here are some specific questions I have of you:

Should I give her advice about how to spend her money?

Should I let her know that her choices about spending and about having a deadbeat boyfriend have put her in the situation she now finds herself in? 

Should I bring up that her choices to put so many miles on the car have caused more wear and tear and led to things breaking down?  And should I let her know that helping to pay for her car repairs is an emotional trigger for me, with her having put all those miles on the car for HIM and HIS family?

Should I let her know that the BF, whose name is still on the lease, took the irresponsible way out by not paying his fair share and honoring the commitment he signed on to?  Leaving HER to pick up the pieces.  How is that caring? (she said she still loves him)

I am afraid that by loaning or giving her money, I will be wanting to monitor and then speak up about her spending and other life choices.  And I don't want to play that game.  Nor do I want to support foolish spending on Netflix, cable and wireless.  She doesn't get that these are luxuries and not necessities for a financially struggling person.  Do I speak up about that, or not?? 

So again, why do her bad choices have to impact ME?


Just a postscript to my last post...
My husband and I talked this afternoon, and here is what we are willing to do for her:

Directly pay her car insurance and electric bills this month, but not the non-essentials like phone, cable and wireless. This is a one-time loan.

Give her a small portion of the money from a relative, who had given us some money for her college education or whatever we deemed necessary, to use for the car repair. That way it is not our money, per se, but the relative's money, which makes me feel better, even if it is only a matter of semantics.

My remaining dilemma is whether to mention her bad choices leading her to this outcome or not go there.  And whether to give her advice about future living arrangements and what she can realistically afford. 

Green Thumb

Reminding her of her failings is all wasted effort because in her mind, it doesn't matter, there are no consequences. It is okay to tell her how you feel, with I messages, I feel angry when you ask me for money.

I am going to quote something from an Al Anon pamphlet, not saying she is an alcoholic, but it is about enabling. Substitute the word Alcoholic with your daughter's name and see if it feels right.

"Sometimes a crisis - the loss of a job, an accident, or an arrest - can convince the alcoholic of the need for help. Coddling and overprotection at such time will not be helpful. The crisis may be necessary for recovery.

Do nothing to prevent such a crisis from happening - don't cover bad checks, pay overdue bills, or go to the boss with excuses. The suffering you are trying to ease by such actions may be the very thing needed to bring the alcoholic to a realization of the seriousness of the situation."

Parents can NOT remove pain from their children's lives, we all have pain and no one is immune. Life is hard, period. It is the coping and overcoming skills that we need to give our children, not removing the pain. 

Its hard and I feel for you. We got one kid cooking up a grandiose scheme right now to "fix all his problems." Trying to stay down wind when it hits the fan.


B, my take is it is terribly hard for most of us to watch our adult children make (to us) bad choices. If we can manage to stay out of it...there are consequences. And that's how they learn. What I did when my 'adult' sons asked to borrow money was to let them know that my 'momness' was going to make them interest free. Beyond that there was a plan on how and when it was going to be paid back. That could be addressed if needed with no guarantees about the outcome...and if the loan wasn't repaid in full, it was the last one. Also, no second loan was made until the first was paid in full. They found me a hard taskmaster...and then when my grandsons were growing up...they did the same thing with their 'adult' children. Both sons thanked me (eventually) for respecting them. There were also  times when I made small cash 'gifts'...but I never cancelled a loan or a loan payment...and they never defaulted.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


OK, I have to admit that you are both right.  Green Thumb, what you said about enabling turns out to be spot-on. Unfortunately, I think what I was wanting to do was loan or give her money to support her decision to leave him, but in essence to try to control the outcome.  Which is still her business. And I clearly have no control over her choices.  Apparently I am more controlling than I want to admit.

Sadly, it seems she is probably still seeing the BF, as we saw an online charge at a favorite restaurant of hers for two people the other day (This from a girl who was so broke that she asked me to buy her groceries a couple of days before that restaurant charge...what a sap I am). There are a few other clues of late that lead me to believe it is not over.  She has chosen to make so many boneheaded decisions with money that we CANNOT in good conscience throw our good money after her bad.  She is on her own. We will not even loan her money right now.  The fact of the matter is that he owes her money for rent for the last few months (at least) and until the lease is up.  She should go to HIM demanding money.  How will she learn that if WE bail her out?  Now I am sorry that I took her out grocery shopping.

And as of tomorrow we are ending our connection to her online banking so we won't know anything more about her spending.  We don't want to know.

Thank you for your wisdom. 


Yep.  I figured something was coming like that.  Buy me groceries while I got eat at restaurants....sigh.  When will they learn.

I do have a very good Son, who has 3 children under 4.  They have their hands full, but it was by their own choices.  They manage money well and have only had to ask me to help a few times over the last 5 years, when something comes up.  They pay their day to day expenses, but have no extra to put away for an emergency.  I've paid for a washer/dryer repair, some medical bills for the kids, medicine, etc.  Necessities, not excessive stuff.  I give it to them as gifts, with no payment expected because I know they can't afford it.  Now, Son asked me one day about borrowing some money.  When I asked what it was for, he said he wanted to buy DIL a nice gift for her Birthday.  I told him that I would be happy to do it for him, but this one was not a gift.  I had already bought her a gift.  This one would have to be repaid.  And, there would be no more "gifts" of money for necessities until it was paid back.  He agreed and bless him, paid me back $20, every other week until he paid it.

So even though I have a good Son, who is responsible, I still set my limits with him on things.  I still want him to know that I will help him, but he has to make wise choices.  They also know that if I "gift" them something they can't afford that is a necessity, I better not see them out to eat the next day at a restaurant.  That would be the end of that too. 
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell