Annie's Mailbox: My parents need to stop giving

Dear Annie: I am 32 and the youngest of three children. My parents have always been generous — refinancing our homes, sending each of us to the college of our choice, as well as graduate schools and offering financial help. All of us are now married with children of our own, and my parents still help us out.

Mom and Dad have no hope of retiring anytime soon. While we are all extremely grateful, where does it end? I don’t begrudge my parents how they spend their money, but I worry that they are burdening themselves too much and can’t say “no.” There also seems to be some sibling rivalry developing.

Does one child deserve more because she has more children and a lower salary? How about when my wife lost her job? Or when my nephew needed a car?

We are all extremely close, and I hate to have financial issues dividing us. Is it possible to avoid these brewing battles while still accepting financial aid from our parents?

— Figuring Out Finances in the Family

Dear FOF: None of you should be accepting financial help from Mom and Dad unless it is an emergency. Since you are a close family and are grateful to your parents for their help, perhaps you could initiate a sibling conference and discuss the issue calmly. Explain that the folks aren’t getting any younger and eventually will need this money.

Your siblings should make the effort to wean themselves from their parents’ largesse. It would be better for everyone involved.

Dear Annie: I believe my son-in-law, “Carl,” is cheating on my daughter, and I don’t know what to do.

Carl works for a home-renovation company. His employer recently hired a 19-year-old woman, and it is obvious that Carl has become infatuated with her. He now tries to dress and act as if he is her age. He even got his ears pierced.

This girl has been texting him often. My daughter is a little suspicious, but doesn’t want to question or check up on her husband. Carl leaves the house early in the morning and comes home late at night, but she buys into the excuses he gives her. She is very busy with their three young children.

Should I be concerned, and if so, what can be done about his behavior?

— Worried Mother-in-law

Dear Mom: Let your daughter handle her husband. With three little children to raise, she may not want to deal with the possibility that Carl is cheating. And he may not, in fact, be sexually involved with this young woman.

Say nothing derogatory about Carl to your daughter. Should she confide in you and ask for advice, however, please suggest she talk to a marriage counselor.

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