Dear Annie: My wife and I are almost 80 years old and still have to work to support our son, his wife and their two young kids.
We co-signed for their rent and car lease payments, and when they became unable to pay, we were forced to do so. This ruined our impeccable credit. We also have had to help with their expensive day care, which runs nearly $200 a week for the older child and substantially higher for the baby.
One wage earner cannot swing it. We hoped when the older child was ready for preschool, our daughter-in-law would get a job. But she became pregnant again and, of course, is unable to work with her newborn baby. They already are behind with their power and gas bills, and have been threatened with utility cut-offs, so we pay those. Sometimes we help buy groceries.
When we tell them this is too much for us, they become indignant. They have already used up our retirement savings and have ruined our health with all the worries and anxiety. What can we do? —Two Sad, Lonely and Hopeless Parents
Dear Sad and Lonely: Your son is living beyond his means, and as long as you keep bailing him out, he will never learn to support himself and his family. What happens when all your money is gone? They will drown in debt, and you will have accomplished nothing. Plus, you won't have a dime to live on.
Your son needs to know the gravy train has stopped. Don't worry about them becoming "indignant." Too bad. Insist they contact the National Foundation for Consumer Credit (nfcc.org) at 800-388-2227, and offer to go with them to speak to a counselor. Don't wait.
Dear Annie: A little over two years ago, I had a falling out with my best friend, "Ellen." She e-mailed some nasty things about my then-upcoming bridal showers and wedding, and questioned why we were friends since we only got together when I "blew through town." I was at school in another state, and Ellen had married, moved away, divorced and moved back home. I made every effort to see her.
The last thing she said was that maybe we weren't such good friends anymore and we should go our separate ways. I was devastated and hurt. Her mother still attended my wedding, which I greatly appreciated, but I haven't had any contact with the family since.
While I'm still hurt and resent some of the things Ellen said, I miss her friendship. I realize now that she may have been depressed about her own divorce when my wedding plans came up. I am pregnant and always hoped our children would grow up knowing each other. Should I reach out to tell her? What's the best way to do it? —Pregnant and Missing My Best Friend
Dear Pregnant: If you can talk to Ellen without rehashing old arguments, pick up the phone and say, "I've missed you and want to start over." Don't bring up past hurts. If you are afraid you might say the wrong thing, put your thoughts into an e-mail that you can double-check and edit so it reflects a positive attitude. You have nothing to lose by trying. Good luck.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.
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