Annie’s Mailbox for Jan. 10, 2011: Daughter taking advantage of living situation
Dear Annie: My wife and I are in our mid-60s. For most of our lives, we have done pretty well, but lately we’ve had financial difficulties because our incomes have been significantly decreased while our debt has not. My health is failing, and I don’t know how much longer I can continue to work.
During the good times, we allowed our daughter and her husband to move into the second unit of the duplex we own. We charged minimal rent, which they soon stopped paying altogether. They don’t work and do nothing to help around the house. They help themselves to our food without telling us, so when we go to the refrigerator, it is often empty. They have trashed their living space, and I need to get them out so I can get some rent coming in.
When I tell them about my financial situation, their response is, “It’s not our problem.” When I say they must move out, they tell me what an evil person I am. I don’t know how to end this without totally destroying what little family we have left. Any ideas?
— Slowly Drowning in Culver City
Dear Culver City: Your daughter and her husband are freeloaders who are taking advantage of your reluctance to throw them out. Where does your wife stand on this? You two need to present a united front when you inform your daughter that you can no longer afford to allow the unit to be occupied rent-free.
If they are willing to pay a reasonable rent, they can stay. Otherwise, give them a deadline to move out. Offer to help them find jobs and another place to live. If you can afford it, you could even donate something toward their expenses until they get settled in elsewhere. They won’t like it, but unless you put your foot down, they will drain you of every last penny. It’s your choice.
Dear Annie: My husband and I love each other dearly, but I am far more sociable. Occasionally, when friends invite us over, I go by myself. This is fine with me, but our friends will invariably ask, “Why didn’t you bring Jim?”
The honest answer, “He didn’t feel like coming,” seems unnecessarily hurtful. But I don’t feel comfortable making up fake excuses, saying he has to work when I know he’s home surfing the web or reading a book. How do I respond?
Dear Puzzled: If little white lies bother you, you can be direct (“You know how Jim can be.”) or honest and evasive (“Jim couldn’t make it.”). But if these are good friends, they should not be surprised if you simply tell them that Jim finds socializing difficult and he’d rather be at home.
Dear Annie: I have a better response for “Dad’s Personal Bank,” who said he and his older brother provide for their father, who complains that it isn’t enough and then takes vacations with their younger brother. You should have told him to cut Dad off.
I am 87, and my son is 62. For 30 years, we have given to relatives on both sides of the family. We have financed homes and cars and issued personal loans. If it is a gift, they know it. If it is a loan, they know it. We are the bankers, and we dictate the terms. If there are hard feelings, too bad.
We have invested a couple of million dollars in these relatives, and if anybody complains, they are blacklisted. We don’t finance vacations or drug habits. I refused to bail out a nephew who got caught driving without a license. When I am 100, I will turn this whole situation over to my son, who will then be 75 and can have the fun of dealing with the relatives.
Dear D.C.: Not everyone (especially a child) is willing to take such a hard line, but we’re glad it works for you.
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They say you can’t go home again, but Brittany Young has completely flipped that saying on its head.