I do not have a close relationship with either of my parents and have been responsible for myself since I was in high school.
Money and Family: Nothing Changes
It’s amazing to think that I wrote about this same exact problem about money and family two years ago and it is still an issue.
Two years ago I gave my dad close to $1K for repairs on his old car. Between then and now he has asked me for smaller amounts of money for less important things and I declined.
Earlier this year, my dad “got sick of living here” and drove from WY to NY. He drove out there, stayed for a few weeks, was miserable, then drove back to WY. It did not occur to him that he is of poor health and has little money. He wanted to go so he did. That time, he was able to come back to WY without any consequences. He still had his apartment and the drive was fine, even though he was right back where he started.
Last month he, once again got “sick of this place” and went on another road trip to NY. Unfortunately, on this second trip, his 1988 Subaru wagon with 350,000 miles on it kicked the bucket in South Dakota. He abandoned it and had to buy a bus ticket back to get back to WY.
Does My Dad Need a Car?
According to him, there is a bus in the city that will come pick you up but you must put in your request at least 24 hours before pick-up time. This isn’t ideal but for grocery shopping and doctor’s appointments he will have advanced warning anyway.
Currently he is relying on helpful neighbors to bring him to the doctor’s and grocery store.
I do realize that for him, it isn’t about the car or transportation but about independence.
Why I’m Not Giving My Dad Money
In my lifetime I have never seen my dad work a full-time job. He received an inheritance form the death of his mother soon after I was born, blew it all, and now has nothing.
I felt very guilty the first time he asked me for money. It felt as though I have an obligation to help my dad as long as I am able, even though we do not have a very close relationship.
Now, however, I feel that he took it for granted and did not appreciate the help. There is also something about him not having shame to ask his daughter for money that leaves a sour taste in my mouth.
The last time I wrote about this I mentioned trying to set my dad up with a budget for spending & savings. Unfortunately, it is very late in life for him to start learning how to make sacrifices. Even the idea of only going to the store once a week via public transportation is difficult for him to comprehend.
Why I Still Feel Guilty About It
My father, while trying to guilt me for money, said this, “You’re 30, you have your whole life ahead of you to make that money back.” My dad is 70 and constantly feels his days are numbered.
I thought about his logic though. To him, it doesn’t matter what my current circumstances are because I will be able to get that money back in the future. I can put myself out now because, eventually, I’ll get the $1K back.
Unfortunately, this is pretty much how my dad has lived his life. Putting everything off for his future self to worry about and not dealing with the consequences once gets hit with them.
Part of me sees the car trouble as consequences of my dad’s actions and he finally needs to face them.
Another part of me still feels guilty. Since he is 70 and in poor health, should I just help make his last years as easy as possible?
I am very interested in your opinions. Have you been guilted into financially assisting a friend or family member? How did it work out? Do you feel it is important to help parents if you’re young enough to recover? Are we obligated to help our parents at any cost?