No Money Required | Disagreeing Reader | Reunion Revenge


No Money Required

Dear Micah,

I have a daughter and a son-in-law who are struggling financially.  My son-in-law lost his job when his firm downsized.  Temporarily he is working a job well beneath his degree as he tries to find employment at another firm.  My daughter was a stay-at-home mom but now does retail work to help out.  I watch the kids after school for them.  They had to sell their house at a break-even and now lease a house in a lower income neighborhood.  My husband and I offered numerous times to help them.  They could’ve stayed in their better neighborhood if they’d allowed us to assist.  Even at this lower standard of living they are still struggling.  They are hard working proud people and deserve help but they just won’t take it from us.  It’s not just us, my son-in-law’s parents have offered them money and they wouldn’t take it from them either.  What is a way to convince our children that there is no shame in taking help from people who love them and support them?  It’s ridiculous for them to struggle so much when we can afford to help and want to help.  Please give me the words I can use to convince them its okay to take help.

Sandy

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Dear Sandy,

There are no magic words that will convince your daughter and her husband to take money from you.  It sounds like you and your husband, as well as your son-in-law’s parents, have made it very clear that you are willing and happy to help.  Your kids don’t want help.  They want to do it on their own.  Consider yourself very lucky that you have grandchildren that are being raised by people that want to do for themselves.  How easy it would be to just accept your assistance, but they are trying to teach your grandchildren that if you get into a hole, you dig yourself out.

I think there are a lot of parents out there that are still completely supporting grown-ass children and they would love to be able to say that their kids had the integrity and determination that your kids have.  All you can do is offer help graciously.  If they’ve refused it, then move on and let them do things their own way.  Do not make them feel guilty for having to move the family to a lower grade lifestyle.  They are doing what they have to do and all they really need from you is moral support.  As for your desire to offer more—you are offering aid and childcare every afternoon.  You are providing them with a safe haven for their kids to be while they earn a living.  That is a wonderful gift of time, love, and I would guess a little bit of expense.  I’m sure you feed the kids or take them places after school.  So your contribution to this family is not small.  Just because you aren’t allowed to make a mortgage payment for them doesn’t mean you aren’t in fact helping them.

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Disagreeing Reader

Dear Micah,

I have an issue with your response last month to the mother whose daughter wasn’t speaking to her.  You told her that it was up to her to fix the relationship.  You even told her to accept all the blame.  You also hinted that she wasn’t a good mother.  I didn’t think that was right at all.  I believe you gave bad advice and you were dead wrong.  Speaking as a mother, I can say that it can definitely be the fault of the child.  It isn’t automatically the parent’s fault.   I felt sorry for that woman after I read your advice.  I don’t think it was the correct advice to give her.  I would have told her to write her daughter a letter.  In it I’d have told her I was hurt and how bad it feels as a mother to have a daughter who won’t call or visit.  That daughter needs to know how childish she’s been behaving instead of working things out with her mother.  I totally disagree with the way you handled it.

(No name)

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Dear_____,

I still stand by what I said.  (For those of you who have no idea what we’re talking about, check the ASK MICAH column at B-Metro.com dated 3-19-13 and the question titled Absentee Daughter).  The woman in the letter had a daughter who had virtually ended all meaningful contact with her for the last three years.  There is a reason for that.  We don’t know what it is, but there is a reason.  In my opinion, it’s up to the mom to find out why.

_____, you seem to have an issue with the fact that I told the mom that it was all on her to fix the relationship—sorry if you are offended, but I’m right.  Clearly the daughter doesn’t give the back-side of a bald-headed eagle if she ever has any kind of worthwhile relationship with her mother.  This is demonstrated by the fact that she doesn’t reach out to her mother to fix the problem.   The daughter has moved on.  It’s the mom that is upset and wants a resolution.  So it has to be up to her to find out the problem and fix it.

Maybe you have a point that the fault could very well lie with the daughter, but it’s not the daughter who wrote in worried and trying to fix the issue.  If the mom wants it fixed, then she needs to fix it.  Now she could decide to take your advice and write a stupid letter, belittling the daughter and trying to make her feel like a bad person, but I bet that won’t get a very positive response.  Call me crazy, but I think if a relationship is in turmoil, the last thing you do is point out why the other person is wrong and illicit some kind of guilty surrender from them.  Do you want to “win” or are you trying to resolve and end the issue?

My advice was meant to resolve an issue and move past it.  Your way just sounds like somebody trying to win an argument.  Perhaps this woman’s daughter is a horrible person and the mother has truly done nothing wrong—well, didn’t she raise the daughter?  If your child is a horrible person, doesn’t that imply that you did something, or didn’t do something that helped make them that way?  Granted that’s not every case.  Sometimes you just get a bad seed, but in the case of that letter, it just felt like it was the mom’s issue to resolve.

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Reunion Revenge

Dear Micah,

My 10-year reunion is coming up and I want to show everyone how well I turned out.  I wasn’t popular in school.  I was pudgy and wore big glasses and had very few friends.  I was treated very badly at times by people.  One time in particular, I was turned down for a couple of clubs just because I wasn’t pretty and popular.  I’m pretty now and I am successful.  My husband is also successful and we have a wonderful life.  I can’t wait to shove it in their faces!  I do realize this is all petty revenge, but it’s important to me.  My problem is that my husband doesn’t want to go if I am going to be “just to be a bitch” as he says.  I really need him to go.  Can you understand my need to do this?  I’m really not a vicious person and I don’t plan to go cause any trouble.  I’m going just so they can all see how I turned out.  Please explain to my husband why this is so important.

B.

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Dear B.,

I understand why you want to do this.  I wasn’t popular in school either and I too was treated very badly by people.  For me, it was because I was awkward and puny and gay.  So I get it.  You want everyone to see that you are no longer that awkward person anymore.  BUT, the fact that this is so important to you shows that you haven’t let it go yet and moved on.  I think your husband is wise to want to avoid the train wreck.  You are just going to look like a bitch or a lady-douchebag.  Excuse my wordage, but I can’t find any other words to describe what you will look like.  Douche sort of sums it up.

The issues of your past are still as fresh to you today as they were 10 years ago.  You need to work on that and learn how to let it go.  I also think it bears pointing out that you are treating the old you just as badly as your classmates did.  Listen to what you have said.  You were pudgy and had big glasses.  Okay, you lost some weight and got contacts (I assume).  Does that mean that you are now better than the old, fatter and blinder you?  Would the you today mistreat the you of yesterday?  Just a question.

I understand what it’s like to change in appearance.  As I said I was puny and awkward and gay.  I am still awkward and gay.  I WISH I was still puny!  You have no idea how hard I have worked to try and be thin and puny again!  However, the awkward and gay are traits I don’t mind anymore.  In fact, I embrace them, but I think the me of today would have been very welcoming to the me of age 16.  Ten years ago I probably wouldn’t have been.  I’d have been just as mean to 16-year-old me as everyone else was.  But by age 40, you grow up a lot and you just aren’t all that interested in what other people think of you, as long as you like yourself.

I think right now you probably really like yourself, but you don’t like who you used to be, so you are just as bad as your old classmates were.  Going to a reunion in order to show them that they were wrong to mistreat you is hypocritical.  I have no idea if I am making sense.  Skip it.  Just keep this in mind… a class reunion should be used to reconnect with people you once knew and cared about.  You can also use it to make new friends out of people that you were never close to.  That’s what a reunion is supposed to be about—making or reestablishing connections, not being a douchebag.  If you cannot do that then I think you should listen to your husband and sit this one out.  Wait until your 30 year reunion and see if you mature a little more to a place where you can go and enjoy the fellowship of old friends and the possibility of making new ones out of old acquaintances.   Otherwise your pretty new self is going to make just as bad an impression as the old pudgy you did.

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