Annie's Mailbox for Feb. 26, 2011: Not sure how to approach gambling problem

Dear Annie: I am a school coach in a small town. Last week, I walked into our local gas station to pay for my purchase and spotted a woman sitting on the floor. She was inserting money into the instant lottery machine, selecting a lottery card, scratching it off and repeating. I watched her for a few minutes before realizing she was the mother of one of my students. She looked up at me and said "hello."

Yesterday, I was back at this gas station, and there she was again with her hands full of money, feeding this machine. We exchanged "hellos" again.

It is apparent that she is addicted to this machine. Do I suggest getting some help, or should I keep my mouth shut?

— Concerned

Dear Concerned: Her addiction is more likely to gambling and not to a particular machine, although she may feel that one brings her luck. If you see her there again, or if you notice related problems, you could gently suggest that she look into Gamblers Anonymous (gamblersanonymous.org).

Dear Annie: This is in response to "Slowly Drowning in Culver City," whose daughter and son-in-law live in their duplex and refuse to pay rent or help out.

He and his wife need to act now before they are too sick to work and bring in an income. Their daughter and her husband have shown they don't care about the parents' welfare. If the father dies, does he think his daughter and her husband will take care of his wife? I believe Mom will end up homeless.

Just because she is their daughter doesn't mean they owe her anything more than the good home and education they already provided. I can understand his concern, but get her out now.

— Seen This Before

Dear Seen: Most readers agree with you. Read on:

From Kingston, Ontario: I suggest the parents sell their duplex and move into an apartment — and don't give out the keys. This will force the freeloaders to do something for themselves, and it may protect the parents from their own overly kind hearts. In the long run, they are not helping their daughter to become independent.

No City: I had a similar situation several years ago. We let my son, his wife and their kids move into our second home until they got on their feet. That never happened. After five years of footing the bill, we told them they had to pay the utilities. After another year, I told them they had six months to get out. In the meantime, they stopped paying the utility bills, and the water and electricity were shut off. I changed the locks, and it cost me $2,000 to have everything turned back on, but it was worth it. "Drowning" needs to get these bums out of there before they do more harm.

Texas: Freeloading children will never change. They manipulate until you kick them out. Offer to help them find work? Ridiculous. That will only make the drowning go a bit slower.

Chicago: I purchased a home for my son, who is handy and felt he could pay the minimal house payment and fix up the place so we could sell it for a profit. However, he let his girlfriend and her brother move in, and no one paid rent. Finally, after talking and begging, I evicted them. We now have a good relationship. He has a job, owns a home and is the master of his own life.

West Virginia: There is no way to salvage what is left of the family. If those kids cared, they would not have put their parents in such a position. They need to be given a 30-day notice by registered mail to move out.

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