My husband and I retired comfortably, having raised five wonderful children.
Two sons and one daughter married educated spouses who came from diverse backgrounds and brought considerable baggage and debt.
Our children have gone to great lengths to make their marriages work. They do the bulk of housework, cooking, and child rearing.
Meanwhile, their mates spend time eating, shopping, recreationally reading, sleeping, smoking, or texting, when not at work.
They show poor manners and social conventions. They smoke around the children, and two are “short” with me. Efforts by my children to improve and curtail this are temporary.
We’ve kept mum, and tried to be supportive by helping with money when needed, babysitting, initiating family get-togethers, meals, kindness, and emotional support. We’ve done it happily.
We’ve never had words or an argument with these children-in-law, nor criticized.
Recently, I was deathly sick for six weeks and not one of the three sent a card, flowers, or offered to help with meals. In 20-plus years, I’ve never received a card or gift from them.
All my children are very good to their parents-in-law.
One single daughter, and one son and daughter-in-law have shown their love for us with meals, invites to their families' events, and care when needed. I can count on their support and care as we age.
I have, until now, been fair and equal with gifts and money with all five children and spouses, just so there’s no jealousy, or hurt feelings.
Am I obligated to continue to give all the same value gifts that I give to those who make us feel valued and loved? Am I obligated to bequeath anything to these “out-laws”?
It seems unfair that they’ll benefit when their spouses (my children) inherit at our passing. I know they’ll run through the money quickly.
My continuing health problems necessitate making some final arrangements.
Agitated and Unappreciated
Your feelings are understandable, exacerbated by your illness.
However, after years of accepting the negative behaviours, suddenly cutting off these people (while justified in theory), will create a reaction you don’t want.
There will be jealousies and anger between your own children.
Even if you specify that they inherit equally, but the “bad” spouses cannot get at the money, you create the marital discord they’ve worked hard to avoid, and for which they’ll resent you.
Of course, you should discuss this with your lawyer. You might consider leaving your money in foundations for your grandchildren (except for the single daughter), to be used for their education.
Meanwhile, talk to your three children in these obviously unequal relationships. Say, gently, how sorry you’ve felt to see the imbalances and wish for them and their children, that they get some counselling help.
They may not follow through immediately. But you’ll have left them with the thought.
My best friend thinks her partner of 34 years might be cheating. He called her by another woman's name, one that she doesn’t know (it's not his sisters', mother's, or any other relatives or friends’ name). I don't know how to help.
You should not help, other than to say that without any other evidence, it could be meaningless, or from a dream, a movie, a slip of the tongue (or possibly more worrisome, beginnings of memory loss).
Then, mind your own business. So far, she’s overreacting. If there’s more to it, then it’s a matter between them. A friend’s only role here is to listen when and if this woman needs real support in a proven situation.
I've moved back with my parents after college. My job doesn't pay enough for me to live on my own, but I constantly seek better jobs.
My father (a complicated relationship) passive-aggressively hints that he doesn't like me staying here. He said I'd have to pay rent, but I think I should be saving for my future. I said I’d pay, but I've slacked the past couple months, and feel badly.
I keep my room clean, do my laundry/dishes, and try to help, though my parents prefer doing housework their own way, themselves.
Am I asking too much by staying here? Am I wrong to think it’s stupid that my dad asks me to pay rent?
Pay the rent. Parents have a right to ask this, and many believe it’s the way to assure grown children will NOT slack in trying to reach independence, after years of relying on parents’ support.
Tip of the day:
Drawing a will should be about legacy, not revenge.