Dear Amy: A few years ago a not-so-distant relative, 35, asked for $ 3,000 to help him with his credit card debt. She asked me not to tell anyone, especially her mother.
It was supposed to be a one-time cry for help with a promise to pay back the money within a year.
She paid him back (in 18 months).
A year later, she asked for $ 5,000 – same scenario.
A year later, she paid me back $ 1,500 and asked for more time to pay the rest.
I forgave the loan by strongly suggesting that she seek financial advice and not ask to borrow again.
She has a decent job, but I think she’s a really bad money manager.
A month ago, she asked for $ 7,000.
I haven’t answered him yet, and frankly, I don’t want to.
Am I wrong to ignore it? I think her mother has helped her in the past, but really can’t afford it at this point. Should I warn him?
– In distress
Dear Distraught: Your generous choice to bail out your parent seems to have been helpful in the short term, but may have simply pushed back her financial problem, delaying for several years the need for her to deal with the rational consequences of her financial habits.
I am not quibbling with your choice to forgo the most recent loan, as long as you do not lend more. Knowledgeable readers have taught me over the years that if you choose to be a banker for someone in your family, they must pay off a previous loan in full before receiving another.
It may be easier for you to ignore than to deal with this most recent request, but since you don’t seem vulnerable to manipulation, this is an opportunity for you to provide your response in a loving (and can be useful). A simple statement: “I’m worried about you. I believe you need responsible financial advice. You might be able to help anonymous debtors. Debtors Anonymous is a 12-step program for people who are compulsively in debt. Like other 12-step programs, they take a “God-centered” fellowship approach. If your parent doesn’t like this, there are other credit counseling groups.
Depending on the situation, it is not wise to allow a family member to swear to you to keep it a secret. If you think this would ultimately help your adult family member, you should disclose this lending activity to their mother.
Dear Amy: In 1956 my mother had an affair with an aviator. Nine months later, I arrived.
Apparently he was married and a few months after I was born there was a legal proceeding and he paid my mother $ 2,500 with a commitment that she would never contact him again. We did not do it.
Being a single mom was tough for my mom, but she provided what we needed.
Mom passed away in 1990, so I thought about contacting my biological father. We corresponded twice that year. Both times he was cordial, but he never recognized his part of my existence. He admitted that he knew my mother. His last words to me were: “I live a nice quiet life here.”
Through Internet research, I learned that he got married in 1955 and had children. His wife died in 2010 and he passed away in 2012. We have never met.
Here is my dilemma: In his obituary he mentioned that “he had a long battle with cancer.”
I need to know what cancer he had. I have an illness that could turn cancerous. Should I contact his family and inquire? I’m pretty sure they don’t know anything about me.
Dear Related: Yes, you need to contact the family. When you do, you need to make sure to make it known that you are looking for medical information that could have a very real impact on your life and health. Tell them that you and your birth father corresponded briefly 30 years ago, but you’ve never met in person.
If there are any court records of the arrangement between him and your mother, it would be helpful if you had copies, in case they have any questions.
Dear Amy: A man who said he was “94 years old” and claimed to be sexually active with two women should be applauded for his sexual prowess, rather than being lectured about STDs.
Dear upset: I responded to this gentleman as I would any sexually active person juggling multiple relationships: reminding him (and his partners) to get tested. I made no comment – positive or negative – on his prowess.
© 2020 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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