Dealing With Financial Family Guilt: Dad Wants to Borrow Money, Again

Dealing With Financial Family Guilt: Dad Wants to Borrow Money, Again


In the summer of 2014, my father passed away suddenly. Please read my final thoughts on this topic.

You may not have a reason to feel guilty. You may not know the entire situation. I will always love my father. At the end of the day, I wish I had not given my father any money at all because I learned that that was certainly not the help he needed.

Cute Kitties
A family of cute kitties to keep me from getting too sad & angry over this situation [via lapidim on flickr]


I have posted multiple times before about the on-going saga of my father asking to borrow money from me.

A few years ago I “loaned” him $600, fully knowing that it was actually a gift rather than a loan. (He uses the term “borrow” but he really means “give”). That money was to get his car fixed. It was the first time he had asked for such a large sum of money. Previously I would give send him $50 or purchase him phone cards every now and then.

After I sent him that money, a few weeks later he said that the car was not completely fixed and I needed to send him more money. That was the beginning of my feelings of resentment rather than pity.

Family Loyalty

At first, I felt obligated to give my father money. He spent a lot of resources raising me and children are supposed to take care of their parents. This has been ingrained in us for years.

However, there is something that feels inherently wrong about parents asking their children for money. Something… shameful about it. It’s clear, now, that my dad is not embarrassed in the least to ask me for funds.

It is also easy to trick ourselves into saying, “well, just this once so they can [insert anything here] and get back on their feet.” Unfortunately, it is very difficult for the human brain to process appreciation for something when it wasn’t earned.

Instead of helping my dad by providing him with needed money, I actually hurt him because he then began to believe that he could come to me with all his problems and I would just magically take care of it.

In my “heart of hearts”, I would love to do this.

The New Car

Why is my father asking me for $300 now? The car that I paid to get fixed years ago died last year and he has been without a car. He lives in Cody, WY which doesn’t have the best public transportation, but he lives right in town and has been able to get rides or walk to certain places. However, he does not like being dependent on others at all. This is a personality trait he has always had.

He’s been looking into purchasing a car for several months now but money is, of course, a factor. So I was shocked when I picked up the phone and he said, “I need to borrow $300. I bought a car.

Before I give you the details, let me preface that I don’t fully believe my dad. I think he is holding back some details and purposefully lying/omitting information. So here is the alleged story, what he told me.

According to my dad, he has put $1,500 down on a 1995 blazer and just needs $300 more to finish the purchase.

My dad bought a car he can’t afford assuming I would help him out with the cost.

I don’t mean “can’t afford” in that he will be living beyond his means, I mean he actually does not have the money period. He intends to pay for this in cash but he doesn’t have all the cash!

The Guilt Trip

I have spent many hours in therapy learning how to deal with the emotional guilt of saying “no” to my father when it comes to borrowing money. Even though I can handle it slightly better now, it is still very difficult.

When my dad first asked for the money, I took a deep breath and told him I would call him later. I needed to get myself prepared to tell him “no” and needed some time to garner up that courage.

After sufficient prepping, I called him back and said, “I’m sorry, I’m not sending you the money.

Here are some of my dad’s responses as I continued to reiterate that I was not loaning him $300:

  • I know $300 won’t break the bank for you
  • I will pay you back as soon as I can
  • I need the money this week or I lose the car
  • Just send me the money.
  • Why won’t you help your father?
  • I don’t understand why you won’t loan me the money?
  • Why are you being so mean?

I kept repeating my “no” response over and over. For those of you who have to deal with this, stick to your guns! Pick one phrase and just keep repeating it. That will keep you from breaking down.

I will admit that when he called me “mean”, I started tearing up. I would hate to think I’m being vindictively mean to my parents. I know I’m not but it really hurt when he said that.

Every time he said, “I don’t understand why you won’t send me the money?” I grew frustrated enough to spew back, “I don’t understand why you bought something you cannot afford? I can’t go to a store and buy something if I don’t have enough cash. I can’t buy something then hope money will just magically appear.

His response, “Well I thought you would give me the money.

Am I Being Selfish?

It hurts to know my father is trying to manipulate me into giving him money. It makes me feel selfish for not “helping” him out. When I consider giving him the money, I think of how that will interfere with my own financial goals. That family guilt comes in and says, “Isn’t it more important to help your dad even if it sets you back a month in paying off your credit card?” But I don’t want to make those sacrifices. And I feel that I shouldn’t have to.

It is very easy, too easy, to go back and forth in my brain about this. Is it mean to focus on my own financial progress? My father spent time raising me, don’t I owe him? Maybe he does need this more than I do?

I can realize now that if I let him, he would take me right down with him. He could drain my dry and I could easily sacrifice a lot for him as I did in the past. Let’s face it, $600 is a lot of money.

For those of you dealing with this, and I know you’re out there, I really am sorry this is something you have to go through. I hope my experience can help. Stay strong!

I am always looking to hear other’s stories and advice on this. What tricks do you use to keep yourself from falling into family guilt?


102 Replies to “Dealing With Financial Family Guilt: Dad Wants to Borrow Money, Again”

  1. wow Leslie that is a really tough position to be in. I found this interesting, “However, he does not like being dependent on others at all.” Yet he is dependent on you to buy this car/make repairs etc. I don’t know if you ever read about my brother but he was enabled by my parents and it literally destroyed him as a human (although he is equally at fault as those who did the enabling), but I totally understand where the guilt would come from. How do you say no to your dad? Geesh! I’m glad you held your ground and you have to know that the mean things he said to you have NOTHING to do with you. It’s him being pissed he is not getting what he wants. Like a child throwing a tantrum, but as an adult how we do that is place the blame on the other person. Even if you had millions of dollars, it’s still your money and you have the right to say no. But you are on a tight budget and you can say that to him without feeling in the least bit guilty. It’s not like he’s borrowing that money for food and shelter. It’s for a car he can’t afford. There is no easy way around this, and I’m sure it hurts and you feel bad, but you are doing the right thing for yourself.

    1. I did read about your brother’s situation and I know many families where the child is hurt by their parents continuously providing them money while thinking they are “helping” their son/daughter. I tried to keep this in mind that it would not help my dad but only hurt him, and in turn me, down the road.

      Thanks for mentioning the blame tactic. I understand how it works but it still makes me feel pretty crappy. I’ve never gotten into how my dad is in his situation but a lot of it is caused by hand-outs, which clearly he is still relying on, so it seems that people “helping” him through life has definitely hurt him in the end.

    2. I grew up in a family where my brother has been a addict most of his life, and my mother has enabled him through the past 35-40 years (providing $$, food, shelter, transportation, etc.). She has been doing this for so very long (and she complains about it constantly), that my brother EXPECTS my mother, and me (I have been just as guilty for the very same thing, because my mom cries about being broke because she gives to my brother, so I feel obligated to help her – such a vicious cycle). I retired after 30 years on my job, looking forward to an easier post-career life, and my brother turns his 7-year-old daughter over to me to raise, because he can’t take care of her – or himself. The mother is also an addict and abandoned the little girl. Our lives are miserable because of the guilt we feel from saying NO. It’s a very, very vicious, vicious cycle. All I can say after all these years is don’t ever start it – if you take care of a grown person their entire life, they become incapable of functioning on their own in society. My mother’s love and my love for my brother did nothing but cripple him. And make us miserable every day of our lives.

  2. “Why are you being so mean?”

    That’s something a thirteen year old would say to parents because they won’t let them buy a motorcycle.

    I’ve got fun family money stories, but I’m not willing to share ’em publicly in a comment; ask me in person sometime.

    1. I agree that after-the-fact the retort sounds really immature but in the midst of it, it was hurtful.

      Will try to remember to ask you about family money stories – sounds fun!

  3. Ugh I am so sorry. As you know I am constantly in a similar position. I haven’t seen my mom is over a year now thankfully. Saying “no” is hard, so I just avoid her completely now.

    1. Thanks Michelle, I like knowing I’m not the only one in this situation. I haven’t been able to give up on my dad just yet. Giving up on my mom was much easier.

      1. Luckily my dad was awesome and great with money. Unluckily he passed away and my mom stole all of it even though they were divorced.

        Let me know if you ever need to talk and/or scream.

  4. I explained to my mom once a long time ago that she couldn’t depend on me for money, because I’ve seen the way she spends her money. Now and again I’ll buy her something nice but I won’t give her cash unless she’s needs it for the mortgage. She’s asked for 1k about 3 years ago, and that’s the last time she’s done so. Otherwise, I handle the electricity bills for all the years of guilt-free living I’ve had with her.

    She knows not to ask me for cash. I’ll ask her to justify her spenditures, and she’s realized that what she’s about to spend that cash for is luxury and not necessity.

    1. It’s good you have that arrangement already established and your mom knows the boundaries. I think it’s the initial act of setting those boundaries that is the hardest part.

  5. That is indeed a difficult situation to be in and I can say that from personal experience too. My mom is the main character and in her case things are somewhat worse: she recently discovered online shopping and literally spends all her money ordering stuff that for the most part ends up not using… And at the end of the month she is all angry and throws tantrums about her not having the money to pay the bills… I sometimes get shocked when she comes screaming at me that I don’t want to help her now that I have money after all she did for me. And I still haven’t found the power to say no, and kind of thought it is pretty normal for her to act like that until I read your story, it was a real eye opener for me. Time to start saying no!

    1. It really is hard to determine what is “reasonable” for us to give our parents. Yes, they did make sacrifices for us but they are still responsible adults now and still need to take care of their own messes. I try to remind myself that giving my dad money is actually hurting him, not helping him, because it makes him continue to be dependent on someone else instead of being able to take care of himself. We tend to think of our parents as parents and not adults. Good luck and hold your ground!

  6. I’m really sorry that’s how your dad is treating you. I think you are extremely courageous for saying no (I don’t know if I would be able to) and I definitely think you are doing the right thing. Stay strong! <3

  7. At the very least, he should’ve asked before assuming you’d help him.

    I have had poor relations with my family, so it was easier to say no to money things the few times my father asked (and it wasn’t for anything major, just trying to guilt me into taking him out for a dinner that I didn’t have the money for when I was a college student).

    I don’t know if this helps, but you’re not denying him a necessity and I think he knows deep down that you’re not. None of his arguments were substantial and several were guilt tripping you for things that aren’t your fault, like telling you he’ll lose the car.

  8. This happens with my oldest sister occasionally. In the past she’s always gone to my frugal, guilty mom, which has been incredibly difficult for all of us. Although I’m loathe to quote Dr. Phil, he made a point I always remember: “You don’t fix money problems with money”. My sister, and your dad, need to learn to live within their means, and giving them money only enables their problems.

    1. Thanks, I try to tell myself that “helping” in this case is only “enabling” and that the pattern will continue for as long as I “help” him. Still hurts to hear someone who is supposed to love you say things like that though!

    2. I am very glad I found this post, even though it may be an older one. My sister has some financial issues, some of her own making, some not and some I just have no idea about. Thanks for the Dr. Phil quote, as it not only applies to this situation but actually makes sense and definitely supports the same thing I last told my sister. Her money problems are rooted in some childhood issues i.e. overspending at the grocery store out of fear of running out food. The list goes on. I have tried helping her with a budget (recently found out other family members have done this too) but it boils down to her having more money going out than in. She is not willing to cut off cable (unless its forced upon her) or cell phones (multiples in the house, not just one) and got a new car a couple of years ago but way more than she can afford each month. While she is not upside in her loan, her continued lateness makes it very difficult to get a loan on another car with lower payment. Its an endless and vicious cycle, to say the least. My sister is an enabler in her own right. Until recently, I have given her money every now and then without any expectation of her paying it back. Sometimes she would ask, most of the time she would not. I’ve never had any reservations about helping her out until recently. When my gut instinct says give, I do but recently I have not gotten that little ‘ok’. In fact, its been exactly the opposite so I’ve not given it. You can’t fix money problems with money. It all boils down to personal responsibility and accountability.

  9. I imagine it is really hard to say no when you have the money. “sorry I am broke” at least gives you a reason to say no, but “sorry I have saved that money for other goals” makes you sound selfish. I would try to tell him that he has borrowed before and never paid back and that bank has run out of money, unless he has a strict plan to repay. Last $300 and then since he gave his word to repay you don’t have to lend more if he doesn’t.

    1. Unfortunately, I just know that there will always be an excuse and there is an internal fight between part of me that feels guilty for not giving him money and part of me that feels stupid for giving him money in the past.

  10. For some reason I thought I’d already commented on this. Bah. :)

    I’m really sorry that your dad is guilting you and no, I don’t think you’re a bad person for not giving him the money. I am lucky in that I’ve never had to deal with that kind of manipulation from family, but I’ve had to deal with other forms of emotional/mental neediness and sometimes you just have to say no or walk away from the situation. It’s really hard and there is guilt – you can’t help it. But ultimately it’s the right thing to do.

  11. What a crappy situation, so sorry but I am so confused here, I’ve seen some responses that baffle me. In what shape or form was it necessary for a child to “owe” the parents for their raising? All they do for me? Everything they gave me? Your parents made a choice to have you, and there is a major expensxe when having a child. I love my parents with all my heart but I busted my hump to get where I am financially and they need to take some notes on how budgeting and saving works if you ask me.

    Saying no is the best response, maybe even I’m broke. This is a cycle that seems to be ongoing and if you keep giving he will always expect it. He needs to better his situation, not just cover up an underlying problem.

    1. Thanks for the support! I like the rational that parents choose to have children and should know what sacrifices that entails. Unfortunately a lot don’t.

  12. My sister and I have a similar situation with our Dad. He says we don’t care about him because we won’t loan him money. I have just gotten used to the idea that there will always be a small amount of guilt but focus on the fact I am allowed to decide where the money I earned goes, just as he decides where his money goes. We are all adults and have to live with our choices.
    Stay strong!

    1. Thank you! I suppose there will always be some amount guilt, we do care about this person after all! Although manipulative words like that are really hurtful. You stay strong as well.

  13. My brother and daughter rely on me for money. My daughter made a lot of foolish choices about cars, credit cards, and school loans for degrees that cannot provide a career. She calls me crying. She is 31. and says that she only has 150 at the end of the month. I just gave her $1200 to pay off one of her credit cards which is 20% interest.
    My brother also calls me, he is a golfer and lost his houses in Arizona and Fla during the recession. He also lost a lot of clients who could no longer pay $400 per lesson. He lived in his car for a year and a half because he lives a long way from me. I gave him $2000 yesterday. I have been on disability for 9 months for breast cancer in the last 3 years and then another 6months for chemo. I went back to work a month ago after getting off disability Now I’m making good money, but I feel that they have made mistakes, and I have my own problems. I’m 62. I don’t want my brother to live in a car in the snow, but I am worried about myself, and aren’t there shelters? I feel worried about myself giving money to them. Thank youII

    1. I have learned that when I put my foot down on this (for the large amounts of money), my dad was able to figure something else out. There are shelters, and food banks, and other support. But finding those resources (or having to apply for them) takes more work than just asking a family member for ‘free’ money.

      About your daughter (as I am also 31), I know that if someone paid off my CC for me, I’d happily start using it again with little worry! However, I struggled to pay off mine last year and am now very very careful about how I use it.

  14. wow. u refused to pay 300 dollars to your dad. I’ve just turned 25 and loaned about 5000 dollars. I’m broke on New years eve. All my friends are enjoying. worse thing is I called my home to wish Happy New Year and my parents were arguing. my grandparents who live with us are sick. uncles and aunt don’t give a rats ass. I know these loans will increase is size in the coming years. I won’t marry because who’ll take care of 4 people. I am a doctor btw so I have to be 24 hours on call for them.

    1. The amount of money doesn’t matter as much as the emotional stress of the situation. Especially since it has been going on for a while now and it all adds up. The money, the guilt, all of it adds up. It may have taken me a while to reach my point, but I finally decided enough is enough. However, it wasn’t an easy road. I hope you will be able to find the balance between taking care of your family’s health and enabling unhealthy dependent behaviors.

      1. thanks… feels nice to talk to someone about it. I am more at peace.. Although I haven’t spoken to my parents about it yet. but thanks.

  15. Dear Leslie,

    Thank you for this the past my parents have asked me to pay for their car, and I thought that after I was done paying for it, they would sign it over to me. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, and I ended up in student loan debt because of it. Now my mother, who I live under the same roof, is asking me for rent money, about 300 dollars…I feel really guilty and selfish about not giving her the money especially when I live here…I feel that if she did not screw me over in the first place I would gladly help out, but now I just feel hurt that she even asks… I decided to give her 150 and told her that I need to use the money to pay off the loan from now on…I don’t know if this is the right thing to do. I feel really alone, and I would feel very guilty if she lost the house without me helping. My step father also left too so that is why she is asking me for money.

    1. I am so sorry to hear about your situation. Know that you are not alone. Not fully giving in to her is a good step in the right direction. Instead of handing your mother money, can you help her make her own money? Help her become less dependent on others. Can you get out of that situation so she can’t hold rent over you? This isn’t fun for anyone but you do need to decide if “helping” your mother financially is actually helping her in the long-run. Stay strong.

      1. I am not sure what to say. I am surprised that a grown woman living with her financially strapped mother thinks it is ok to not pay rent. If you moved out, your mother could get a roommate who could pay rent and part of the utilities, and help with maintenance, and cable and phone and newspaper, etc., etc., etc. I don’t know all of the circumstances but I would guess that when your mother bought the house, she didn’t know she was going to be abandoned by her husband and then have her daughter freeload on her as well. I don’t see that paying your fair share of the expenses for the household in which you live is “helping” your mother financially. Rather, isn’t it your responsibility??
        Where is your compassion people?? a car in below zero weather in Wyo. isn’t a necessity??? Helping a brother who is living in his car because he was a victim of a recession is enabling him?? shelters?? have you ever been to a shelter??
        Some of us were blessed to get a job that pays well and be able to keep it. Sometimes it is good sense and sometimes it is just dumb luck how things turn out. If you can afford it, I say help your family, not out of guilt, but out of compassion. But get all of the facts first and try to understand if you helping or enabling. There is a difference. I agree that if the family member has the money but squanders it online or on drugs or alcohol without paying the monthly bills, then that person needs to suffer the consequences of that behavior. But maybe your role as a loving child or parent or sibling, could be to assist them in getting help for their destructive behavior.
        But if the person is in over their head because of some unexpected crisis or problem that is not of their own doing, then help if you can. Your parents may have chosen to have you but should they be judged harshly for that? They could have had an abortion or given you up to an adoptive or foster home so they could have had more time and money to pursue an education or career that might have resulted in a financially secure life for themselves. But that could have been considered quite selfish – no? Don’t be selfish but don’t be abused. You need to learn which is which. If you choose to help, don’t give cash but pay the car repairs or Dr. bill, etc. directly. And pray you never fall on hard times. And if you do, that there will be someone in your life who loves you enough to understand and help.

  16. Hey thanks sooo much for posting this , im going through and have been going through this family guilt, its always about MONEY with them all .. most of them are on drugs , but recently my dad comes to me asking me to deposit 200 into his account cause his bank is over drawn and he just got a used van and he told me if I didn’t he would lose everything . he just left his gf ,stuck her with all her bills left before the 1st so he wouldn’t have to help pay her anything. He is now living with his sister who shoots pills up, I love my family but enabling them is not something I want to continue to do. I believe in my heart this is something I am gonna have to say NO too and being a daddy’s girl it does hurt ,I am faced with guilt cause your pose to honor your mother n father .. but every time I give in and give to my family ..nothing changes and im left without … I cant keep throwing seeds on rocks… its time now to plant my seeds in good soil ..thanks again for the reassurance that this answer is not always the wrong answer …

    1. I am sorry you are dealing with this, it’s tough and not fair to you at all. It really is a conscious decision if “helping” your family is actually in turn hurting them. It seems that you will be hurt either way but if you make the right decision, you will feel good about it. That’s the problem sometimes that we do what we think is good then don’t feel good about it. Sometimes we just have to trust ourselves.

  17. You all simply sound like a bunch of selfish, whining millenialists. But it’s your parents’ fault. They raised you, and look what they got. I see this again and again. You all have money to spend on traveling, clothing, and all kinds of crap, but heaven forbid if a family member needs help. You are a big girl. If you want to say no to your father, you don’t need a therapist to do that. Get a spine.

    1. Having parents who are just like this, I can tell you that you don’t see the whole picture and to judge someone based on a single post like this without knowing their past is just as ignorant as your comment.

      A parent who lies to you and says they need $1000 a month for gas (yes, JUST for gas) to get money out of you is someone whom you cannot trust.

      I worked hard for my money. I don’t mind helping my parents, provided that they too, know how to manage their own money and don’t come to me asking for cash like I’m some free flowing ATM.

      I haven’t asked money from my parents since I was 19 and moved out on my own, so pardon me if I take offense to calling others “whiny millennialists” who have money to spend on traveling clothes and crap but can’t help family members.

      I should also mention that my parents won the lottery so it’s not like they had no money at all to help me pay for college, and had lied all these years saying they saved $10,000 for me and I ended up $0 at the end, scrambling to get scholarships and student loans on my own because of their abysmal credit scores.

      Sometimes you can’t help them.

      Just as a parent who has to stop enabling their lazy bum children and cut them off from coming back to suck at their financial teats, sometimes children have to play that role in reverse and cut their parents off.

      There comes a point where you have to say no when they ask you for $20,000 to go on some luxury vacation around the world on that hard earned money that you worked hard to maintain and manage after paying off $60,000 in student loans.

    2. Asking someone to borrow money for things you want but don’t need can be considered selfish. Telling someone they’re “being mean” because they won’t give you what you want can be considered whining.

      The key word used here is “help”. Helping is what you do when you know good will come out of something. Giving someone anything they want is not helping them at all. Instead, it is hurting them and hurting you.

      If I give all my money to “help” my father, then won’t I likely find myself in a situation in a few years without money? Will I then have to ask my own kids for “help”? When will the cycle stop

  18. I got a small inheritance from father. My daughter called me whining and crying when she lost her job. She asked me for $3,000 to pay her debts. She asked me if she needed to pay me back. I said not now but if I ever need it in the future I expect to get something in return. We’ll it’s been 5 years and My health has been failing and my daughter lives with her boyfriend and is doing extremely well. I asked for $1000 to cover a high interest loan I took out for an emergency. She refused to give me any of my money back. She assumed it was a gift. I reminded her about our agreement and it seems she has amnesia and scolded me for mismanaging my money. I’m only asking for some of the money back. We are not speaking. I’m just waiting for her to ask me again to watch her house and pets while on her exotic vacation. She can afford to pay someone. I feel like an idiot. As other parents warned me about entitled kids now days.

    1. If you loan a large sum of money to anyone (family/friends/etc) and truly expect them to repay you, then write up a legal agreement between the both of you. Write up the terms of the loan, if you’re asking for interest, when it needs to be repaid by. Make it an official document. This shows that not only are you serious about this being a loan and not a gift, but also provides legal proof if the loan is never paid back.

      I am sorry that your daughter is being ungrateful. With that said, it was your choice to give her money to pay her debts and to help encourage her “entitled” attitude.

  19. Over many years ago my Mother co-signed a college loan for my Daughter, her Granddaughter and I co-signed another college loan for another Daughter. Bpth Daughters were doing well. the loan for Daughter I cosigned was $25 a month, the loan for the loan my Mother cosigned was the interest only to be paid of $12. We both have had to continue the loan payments because both Daughters are refusing to be responsible for their loans. now the one Daughter’s Husband has lost his job and is starting in a new job and they have no money to pay the daycare bill. A week or two ago My Son decided he would like to take the children skiing paying for lessons and rentals of ski equipment. My Daughter text me on the phone asking to “BORROW” money due to the fact she is behind in paying her daycare bill, now for two kids since both parents work and she makes twice the amount I do. I decide that she needs help and agree to loan her $490.00 to pay the daycare center and then unknown to me I find out she has purchased two helmets for the children to ski one day! these were not cheap! what can we do?

    1. If you do decide to help your daughter pay off a bill in the future, send the money directly to the company. That way you don’t have to worry how she is spending it. The bill will be paid directly.

      However, if your daughter and her husband are both working, it’s not your responsibility to pay their bills and debts. You could consider setting them up with a financial adviser who can talk some sense into them and help them change their financial habits. The idea is to come up with a long-term solution, rather than loaning money which only furthers the problem.

  20. Neither a borrower or a lender be…we all have a responsibility to live our best life, including making arrangements for hardships. We can help family temporarily in dire straights. But if there is a pattern , your not helping. I have a situation where a family member needs to get bailed out every year and asks for substantial sum of money. It’s a risk..however she lives in 2 places ? No roommate, mismanages money…but was always good to family when she had better income . Helping parents who could have paid their own way..she felt powerful. They should have managed their own money…this girl just doesn’t want to let go of her failed business….why should I carry that burden for her poor choices. ..
    Sorry Kiki..disagree…

    1. It is important to look at why they’re asking for money. If it’s because of a choice, then they’re likely acting selfishly. If it’s because of unforeseen circumstances (getting laid off), that is another matter.

  21. I am in this situation. It was almost like I was reading a book of my own life and it’s so frustrating! Here is my story…my mother and father have been separated (whether official or unofficial I don’t know) for about 7 years now. Neither one of them are financially responsible. My father is a police officer and in the national guard, yet he has managed to file bankruptcy several times, be evicted from a home that was only $650 a month, has no savings, and is constantly broke. He makes a nice salary, so I don’t get it! My mother has let my father’s repeated cheating on her really destroy her life. She has been unemployed for almost two years now, with some very short term employment for a period of about 2 months. She is constantly depressive and somewhat emotionally unstable now because of what she went through with my dad. She tried college, but didn’t stay there even one semester and barely kept up with her classes at all. She and my autistic sister who is 20 right now, have been basically homeless for 3 years, and they have lived with friends and family during this time.

    Now that the backstory is over…I am 22, going on 23. My husband and I have been married for almost 4 years now, and we have a 3 year old daughter and a son on the way. We have savings, and he has steady employment, which allows me to stay at home with my daughter. We are saving up to buy a house, but we are house-sitting for relatives that are living out of state for about half a year, and so we are waiting to move out for when they get back. This is allowing us (was suppose to allow us?) to maximize our savings. Since my husband and I have been married, my mother has done the following:

    1. When we did need help for a period, we lived with her in a cramp duplex (this is before she became homeless). My husband made about 2300 a month at that point, not the best, but okay for where we live. My mother would take more than half of that to cover “back-owed rent”, current rent, and sky high utility bills. We never got to see the bills, she’d get mad when we did, and she always got angry if we asked her if we could pay the landlord personally. We moved out with very little funds because of the situation.

    2. Whenever we do see her, she asks for money. EVERY TIME. She gets upset when we don’t give it to her. I want to help, but I know this has taken up a lot of money that we could have definitely used.

    3. She’s lived with us on two occasions. She’ll ask for money when she’s lived with us. Every day. Usually, it will be for things like online games, energy drinks, and gas for the car…though she doesn’t ever go anywhere productive and is very ambiguous about where she does go.

    4. She has refused to find employment. Any mention of it is blown off.

    5. If I do anything for myself (shopping for me, my daughter, go out to eat with my husband, etc.) she gets depressed and upset.

    Now, I mentioned we are living in relatives home while they are out of state. My mother has had many disputes with my grandmother (who is also a bit financially irresponsible), and so she came to our house. We anticipated that she’d be here for a couple of days. She and my sister have been with us for about a month now. This is not our home. It is a large house, but my mother and sister are not really suppose to be here. My grandmother who my sister and mother have been staying with is trying to find a house, but does not appear to be inviting my mother and sister to move in with her. She is looking for a much smaller house because it is just her when they are not living with her. This will mean they don’t have anywhere to live. My dad got evicted from his home and so he is living with a friend.

    My mother is in denial about a lot. She thinks just because people have jobs and make a bit of money that they are happy and have no problems. She also thinks people have plenty of money to loan her. She doesn’t take into account savings goals. At this point, she is taking away from our savings goals and our ultimate goal of becoming home owners. This is stressful and I feel my husband and I have been much too patient with her, but I don’t really know what to do to make it stop? She gets unreasonably angry when confronted with these issues. Not only that, but we were very close when I was growing up, but she’s not the mom I remember. Any suggestions? Please go easy on me, this is an emotional rollercoaster for me already :(

  22. “She gets upset when we don’t give it to her.” As does a five year old child when they don’t get candy at the supermarket.

    “She has refused to find employment. ” I would too if I knew all I had to do was ask my family and they would give my money. Why bother working when you can do nothing and still get paid?

    “If I do anything for myself (shopping for me, my daughter, go out to eat with my husband, etc.) she gets depressed and upset.” This is her problem, not yours. I know she will try to make it yours but you do not have to let her make you feel guilty. It is your money and you can choose to spend it how you see fit.

    It seems there is a cycle here that needs to be stopped. One suggestion to get you and your husband off this spinning hamster wheel of helping your mother, is to give her a weekly allowance. I’m assuming you are buying all the groceries so she shouldn’t need to buy anything on her own. But I’m also assuming she still asks you for money.

    Give her a set amount of money per week and no more. When she asks for more, say no. You have already given her more than she would need. Tell her she has to wait until the set day to get her next allowance. She will ask for an advance. Nope, not allowed. Tell her that if she wants more spending money, she can get a job.

    Establish rules like she has to fill up the gas tank if she borrows the car. If she returns it not filled, she can’t borrow it again. You have a three year old so I am sure you are familiar with how necessary it is to put your foot down to establish rules.

    Right now, your mother is acting like a child. If she doesn’t want to be treated like one, then she should start living life as an adult.

  23. I am so glad I found this! I’m currently going through the same thing with my ENTIRE family: father, mother, brother and sister. They moved to NY almost 2 years ago and have not been very stable financially since the move. My father and brother both have decent jobs, but my mother is unemployed and my sister is still in high school. I have no problem with helping my family if they’re in an abnormal, not-so-frequent bind. But I feel like I’m supporting them and myself while living nearly 1,000 miles away from them. The guilt is heavy… oh so heavy. I recently wrote a letter and emailed it to my mother and asked that she share the letter with the rest of the family. In this letter, I gave it to them straight. I explained that I was emotionally exhausted from having to be “the savior” every time they needed a way out of a hole. I explained that things needed to change, not because I didn’t care about them, but because they needed to learn how to independently take care of themselves. It’s not just finances either. I feel like I’m the family therapist. Everyone comes to me with their problems! I honestly just want to live my life comfortably and without the extra baggage. I want to see them prosper and do well too. But it’s extremely difficult to say “no” when your family is financially in need. How can I say “no” to them, who obviously need assistance, while I’m 1,000 miles away with a stable job, my own place, and a secure job? Anywho, reading your story let me know that I’m not alone, and that it’s okay to say “no” and it’s okay to feel guilty as long as we don’t allow that guilt to be used as a way to get back into our pockets! I’m trying to stay strong… thank you!

    1. I meant to say “stable relationship, my own place, and a secure job” ***

      My fingers can’t keep up with my thoughts!

  24. I really need to vent!! I have been married for three years already and each year my husbands parents have asked for loans or my husband has given them money to help them out. My husband recently got out of the army and has no job, we have no healthcare and we are still in the process of gettin all these things done. His parents had the nerve to ask “him” to borrow 2100 for past due rent. Keep in mind they have tried to stir up drama in our marriage by reeling my husband I am manipulative and we will never be happy together due to our horoscope signs. Also, last year his mother was talking about buying a house with us. I was very up sent at both my husband and her as they did not even bother to include me in this coversation. I have tried to be kind to them and they are nothing but rude to me. Now they want to borrow money from our family when we both have jobs and a daughter to support. We are living off of our savings which has already dwindled. I am very upset as my husband seems to always agree with his mother am think she can do no wrong. Overall, I am fed up with them being inconsiderate of our family and my husband putting his parents first before my opinion. Am I over exaggerating?

    1. I am sorry to hear about your situation! It doesn’t sound like you’re exaggerating. But you really should talk to your husband directly about this. Explain how it makes you feel when you are left out of these very important conversations. I imagine it is frustrating but also belittling. Hopefully he will understand and things will get better!

  25. OK, my turn! I have lent money to my brother and sister in the recent past and they didn’t pay it back for several years. Not going into the details but it just churned me up inside when they didn’t take responsibility for bringing it up over the next years and/or after the time we agreed they pay it back but they hadn’t.

    Recently, I made an agreement with myself, and shared it with my husband (our finances are separate), that I would not loan money to family members again.

    Tonight I received a call from my nearly 30-year-old niece, who is pregnant with her fourth child and not having been in a stable relationship or job since the first child was born (yes, I have many judgments about that!), saying that she needs to borrow $1,100 by tomorrow to pay off old utilities bills in order to get into public housing that she’s been waiting for for 5 years.

    I listened compassionately to her story and when she asked to borrow the money I said, “I’m sorry, honey, but John and I have a financial advisor who has said to not loan money to friends and family and we have agreed that we won’t do that.” I empathized with her situation without taking it on. She was actually really good about it, saying she understood and that she still loves me.

    The really hard part is NOW – the guilt is coming in as I let down the energy it took to say no. I know how this works – at least in my belief: it’s my childhood modeling/patterning of not wanting to have anybody be mad at me (lot of anger in my family then) so do what everyone pleases and I won’t make waves. Plus I can hear the judgments of some people, my step-mom for one, perhaps, who would say I’m wrong, since John and I make a good income, to not lend money to a poor (financially), pregnant woman seeking housing. Man, that hits the nail on the head right there. I am a social worker and I care about the underrepresented, and I do love my niece dearly, although I have distanced myself over the past decade. But I also believe in self-responsibility and I have to take care of myself first to be good to anyone else. I really DO believe in that, but I also have a lot of feelings coming up about it. I kind of want to call my niece right back and say, “Nevermind! I’ll do it.” I can sense the relief that will bring. But, again, it’s that little girl inside having a hard time saying no. I think I’ll go for a walk and call a friend!

    Thank you for this blog, Leslie. I just happened upon it and needed to process my stuff!

    1. Thank you for venting and sharing your own story. I am continuously amazed at the heart-breaking stories from others about loaning money to family. I am glad I’m not alone in this but I truly wish no one had to deal with it. It sounds like your niece was very understanding of you declining to give her money (note: not declining help). There is a huge difference between helping someone and loaning them money. Those are not always the same! Anyone who judges you, including yourself, needs to keep that in mind.

      The hardest part is the guilt, thank you again for pointing that out. Even after putting our foot down on this, it certainly can gnaw at you. However, even if you said yes, you would still have that gnawing feeling. It’s not fair to let other’s put ourselves in these no-win situations.

      I hope you keep your strength if this comes up again. Do what you can to help, and know that rarely means lending money.

  26. So glad I found this!
    When I was 18 I bought my first truck and paid off the $12,000 loan in 3 years. My father offered to make the last payment and asked if he could use it. I was going to sell it, but my parents needed it for thier business. Eventually he took over the truck and said he would keep up on maintenance. He did not keep up on maintence, and now the truck is in horrible shape.
    I bought my next car and I have $8,000 left on my loan. Both vehicles are in their names. They received an insurance check on the truck for an accident I didn’t know about. They cashed the check and paid off the electric bill because they got a turn off notice- which they get every month
    I am now trying to sell the truck- again- and he keeps trying to tell me to wait… I don’t know what I’m waiting on.
    I don’t think they will hand me the title to either vehicle.
    I have given them money, paid their bills, and paid their rent countless times since I was in high school. I am now 24.
    I’ve paid for all of my own college- and now I’m in debt because of school loans.
    They now want me to pay a third of all the bills in the house- I stay there about 7 days out of the month, and five adults live there. They want to spilt everything 3 ways, my parents, my brother and his wife, and me. I just don’t see it as being fair
    Also, he buys new guitars often, and guns, but he can’t afford to pay rent, or any of the bills.
    He will not get a full time job- he works twice a week- cause he won’t work for anyone but himself.

    Anytime I tell him my opinions, he runs a guilt trip on me. I am drained emotionally from the entire situation.

    I just don’t know what to do

    1. I am so sorry about your situation. It is not fair for your family to treat you this way.

      With that said, think about this from your father’s perspective. He can spend money on fun things like guitars and guns, then when it comes time to pay rent, his child will take care of it for him. What a good deal. Can’t blame him for spending money irresponsibly when he has little incentive not to. Manipulating someone’s emotions is probably easier for him than making personal sacrifices.

      I suggest giving him an incentive to be more financially responsible. One strategy that can help in this situation is to give your parents a monthly “allowance”. Give them your share of the rent & bills (plus extra if you think they truly need it). Tell them that is it. That is all the money you are giving them for this month and you know it is enough to cover everything. Then stick to it! If they come asking for more later in the month, put your foot down and say no. Stand tall through the guilt trips. You are a smart person!

      Ideally, getting out of that situation completely would be your best bet. Can you move out on your own? At the very least, make sure the next vehicles you buy are in your name. The less financial ties you have, the better things will be emotionally with your family. They should love you no matter what, not only because you are giving them money.

      You deserve to be treated fairly. I wish you all the best getting through this. Just know you’re not alone in dealing with this situation.

  27. It’s a complicated issue for sure. Our Silicon Valley-based startup is trying to help solve part of this problem.

    You can (for free) create legal loan documents, have your father sign online, and automatically track repayment. It’s called – It makes it harder for someone to “forget” about past loans, and hopefully will create some new, good habits about being financially responsible.

    1. I like this idea and it is a good use of technology! My father isn’t quite tech-savvy enough for it as a solution but I will keep it in mind for future situations!

  28. I guess I’m not the only one in this situation. Mine has gotten to the point where my dad draws up a budget using my pay check. I won’t even mention my cousins, I’ve learned to ignore their calls because I know that they only call when they need something.

  29. My dad doesn’t work, yet he expects me to pay for his cigarettes & caffeine habit. I am desperately wanting to move into my own place. I’m almost 27 years old, and my parents are what’s holding me back. I would’ve moved out when I was 18, but my parents depend on me & my sister financially. And we’re not talking a carton of cigarettes a month,I’m talking 2 cartons a week!! Cigarettes are expensive!! He always tries to guilt me by saying “I paid for stuff for you when you were growing up” aren’t parents suppose to do that?? And as much as I pay for his stuff (about 200$ a month) I figure I pretty much have paid them back for my raising.
    He had a light stroke & can’t use his left hand very well all the time,so he says no one will hire him. But he won’t try to get disability either. Plus my parents are renting a house & now want to buy a house. So that’s another reason why they don’t want me to move out.
    Keep in mind,I’ve been paying my share of the household bills since I was 16,so it’s not like I’m living rent free.
    They don’t know how to save money. My sister & I have enough money for a down payment for our own house. My sister has trouble saving her money because she’s constantly having to lend to my parents.
    It is beyond frustrating. I don’t want my parents to be broke or homeless, but it’s way past time that I started living on my own. And my coworkers try to make me feel bad because I haven’t moved out of my parents house yet. It’s embarrassing. I never thought I’d be 26, still living with my mom & dad. It’s depressing really. So I know how you feel.

    1. No, this actually has more to do with him having a problem with responsibility. He just spends too much on things he doesn’t need. He does have some hoarding tendencies, which doesn’t help. I am fortunate that I am not dealing with an addiction but that doesn’t really make the situation feel any better.

      1. Im not sure what “hoarding tendencies” mean. I don’t have all of the facts in your case, but from what little I know from the experts, hoarding can be an illness or an addiction of sorts. Maybe what he needs is a different kind of help. This is one issue you will not be able to help him on your own. If you are serious about helping your father, and it is clear you are, I don’t think you should just ignore the psychological/emotional issues that have gotten him to this place. They need to be dealt with pronto or he may end up completely helpless and living with you.

  30. I have been going threw the same overall thing for the last 4 years. I have been Active duty Military since 2007 I have lived on my own and taken care of myself since I enlisted out of highschool at 18. I have traveld all over the country and out of the country until I was stationed in my home state I still have my own apartment , car and the whole nine. But since I have been home my dad has been asking me for money 2 sometimes 3 times a paycheck and its not small amounts. Its 300 here 200 here 200 there and thats out of 1 check. I have a car payment, insurance and rent ontop of everything else its starting to seem as if my dad is spending as much of my money as I do but makes the same as I do. Also when,his friends from work are down on thier luck he offers my apartments spare room to them and what ever they need at my cost of course. I cant say no to him because he is all I have since my mother passed when I was 15 and I feel bad and guilty for leaving him alone and letting him get like this. Then its I’m 25 you and your friends are over 50 I shouldn’t have to support everyone I work hard for my money its not a clock in 9/5 job I have fought And bled for every dollar I have. I’m just at the end of my rope I dont want to destroy my future but also dont want to lose the only family I have left.

  31. I’m so glad I found this article! Just a few hours ago, my mother yelled at me because I wasn’t happy about lending her more money. She’s owed me $4000 within the last 3 months and when I wasn’t smiling when she asked me for more money, she called me selfish. My Mother has a full time job. I don’t have any siblings. I pay most of the house bills. I don’t understand why she can straighten out her finances. I feel bad about yelling at her back but now, I don’t regret it. She maxed out my credit card with no guarantee if she can pay me back. I believe I have a choice over my own money. It hurts, though. When she yelled at me calling me selfish. If I get sick, she can’t pay my bills. My credit lines are for emergency use. :'(

  32. My dad is always giving me a guilt-trip about not wanting to buy him something or giving him money. Like you said earlier it is engrained in us to want to provide for our parents because they took care of us, but it gets ridiculous sometimes. For one thing my dad gets hisdisablility check every month and its more than iI make. I make 7.25 an hour and usually only get 25-28 hrs per wk. He gets 1600/month. So anyway, for the past 2 years he has been putting $5 worth of gas in his tank at a time because he doesnt want to spend his money yet he doesnt care to check the gauge and make sure he doesnt run out. He runs out of gas at least once a week!!!!!! Then he expects me or my brother to use our gas to go get him gas and give us nothing in return. He is actually waiting at home right now out of gas qnd he wants to come home right now. But im an hour away waiting for someone to get off work. The other day he called and told my mom that he was hungry and that I wouldnt buy him a hamburger, which to be honest I did tell him that I wasnt giving him any money because I had just got done paying our whole rent and I was lucky if I could eat. I wish I had enough miney to go to a therapist, because I need one badly!

  33. I too have this problem. My older sister, by two years, is ____ , I do not know what to call it. We both inherited some money when our Father passed away. She took hers and started day trading. She lost it all, it was right around the time the great ressession started. She says she can’t work, that no one will hire her. She says she should get $85/hr. She will not take a job for less money. She is 61 and I am 59. She is single I am divorced for the second time. My two girls are adults. The youngest was into meth and it ripped the family apart and was expensive putting her in rehab at 16 and she was pregnant. lucky she was in rehab as she gave birth to a healthy daughter, drug free. However, struggles still to keep clean. I helped my sister pay lawyer for bankruptcy and to take another computer course that she said would help her get a job. That was a year ago. The bankrupsy is not finished. I paid her $3000 a month for her mortgage and bills and food for 6 months. Still no job. She says she is exporting to West Africa and when the ship docks she will get paid. I think it is a scam. She says she has no food and no food for the dog, and can’t pay the mortgage and needs more money. This is crazy. I have been telling her no, I do not have it. My counselor and a financial planner told me not to pay her . If she is flat broke and cannot pay for her house it should be foreclosed, the bankruptcy should be taking care of all this. I don’t know what is truth and what is lies. We live many states away from each other so no way for me to easily check on what is going on. I just feel so bad, I feel like I am being a horrible person. But I also feel like she is scamming me. I hate this. Any advice?

    1. Hi Cathy, I am sorry your sister’s troubles are so deeply affecting you. It seems that you are a caring person when it comes to family, as you helped your daughter when she needed it. You do not need to feel like a terrible person.

      When was the last time you visited your sister? Before making any other financial decisions, I’d go out and see her. Actually look at her finances. Talk to her lawyer if you can. Find out the status of bankruptcy. See how she is living. Sit down with her and talk about what is going on. Once you get back (or if you really can’t go visit), talk to her once a week. Talking more will hopefully relax the tension between the two of you. You can spend a few minutes asking her about finances, then a few minutes just talking to her about life. Listen to her. Give her respect. These don’t have to be long conversations. But might help make your relationship with her more than just a stressful conversation about money. I am sure she has skills and talents. Can any of these help you? By showing respect for her, she may in turn show more respect for you. (I consider asking a loved one for money to be disrespectful)

      If you really want to help her, think about what she needs. Does she need to live in a house with a $3K/mo mortgage? Find her an apartment and offer to pay her rent for 6 months? That will give her 6 months to find a job. And with less living expenses, she won’t need to charge such a high rate. Does she need to talk to someone? Offer to pay for a therapist. Think of other things that can actually help her (but not by directly giving her money). Write up a (legally binding) agreement mentioning these things and put a time limit on them. This way you don’t have to feel like a terrible person. And you are giving her the help she needs. Though not quite the help she wants.

    2. Anytime someone tells you they make money exporting/importing to Africa it is a scam. Look up Nigerian Scam.

  34. I am so glad I came across this… My mother who frequently tries to borrow money from me has ultimately embarrassed me and I don’t know what to do. I learned after how many years from the support of my fiancé how to finally say no and stand my ground. And I admit it’s very difficult… I’m getting married in December and I was all happy chappy until last night. I received a phone call from my closest friend last night. She said she needed to ask me something and hoped I wouldn’t take offense. She continued to tell me my mother had phoned her mother, and asked for money for her hair and clothes for the wedding. And if it’s really for that? Now my aunt offered to help my mom pay for a blouse that’s really expensive , I bought her shoes for her birthday that she wanted for my wedding , and she told me her hair was booked and finalized. I want to creep into a hole and never come out , I cannot believe she has gone as far as to phone my friends parents ,because of the simple word no. I don’t know how to handle this…

    1. I understand how embarrassing that must have been for you and am sorry you’re going through this. At least your friend knew to question your mother, though it certainly puts her family in an awkward position. Let them know your mother is not in desperate need for financial assistance. And specifically she is all set for the wedding. When you have the mental strength and patience, sit down and try to determine what your mother actually needs. Because it’s not money.

  35. I work so hard for my money, and find my wife always asks that I lend her mum, brother or sister money… it really causes friction between us… her.sister owes 50th USD and the brother 15th USD they have owed me for a year.. they also owe their mum money and now she is trying to get it by manipulating my wife. .

    1. When it comes to lending money to friends or family, no matter what they call it, they are not borrowing it. You are not lending them money. You are giving it to them. Stop expecting to see that money again. Just forget about it, because you won’t. But you can put a plan into action to not give them any additional money. Why are they asking for money? What do they really need? Can you provide them with assistance (emotional? financial? educational?) to get them back on the right path so they can handle their on financial responsibilities on their own.

  36. wow , so glad to find this. for 13 years i,ve been trying to help my youngest sister always having hope that this money would help. i’m in for more than 25,000 i did everything from flying her and her 2 year old 1500 miles to live with me in my rented cabin to financing 3 cars, rents, electric and so on. i recently went to visit her and left her 1500 , less than 2 months later she asks for another thousand,. she llives in the poor and unsafe neighborhood of WinstonSalem. My heart breaker is the child , he is still a great kid and i love him and i just hate that my sister doesnt get it together. I have stopped taking her phone calls and can’t even listen to the messages anymore i just delete it when i check the caller id. But feel so guilty , and cry over what that child is doing without because of her, she would never give him to. me they have never been apart

    1. Do you know what she really needs? It must be more than money if she is going through it so quickly. Can you find out more about her information from other sources? She may not be telling you the whole truth. Money is obviously not helping her. If you care about them, invest some time to determine what you can do to help them for the long-term. Also remember, you are not obligated to do anything.

  37. yeah a job, she must have a mental problem after 13 years of no stable lliving arrangments, no job or money always depressed.

    don’t know what to do being 1500 miles away and when i have called Social Services they can’t discuss her case with me. most people ,i would think would want to get some kind of training , i don’t understand why she hasn’t. now with them being homeless and her needing a masectomy, yeah, they removed a lump and she did radiation and just recently found another lump and the doctors also found another.
    so the drama just keeps building.

    i will look into more long term though, thanks

  38. she left a message sometime last night sobbing that she has no one to look after her son wile she is in the hospital, really heart felt and sad really upset me i love her and at the same time wish she would jump off a bridge or worse. Can’t even get the kid to an airport, hes to young to travel alone im so troubled with her troubles, i had to unplug the phone this morning when she called again .

  39. i answered the the phone, couldn’t take the constant calls and of course i fell into the trap again and the guilt because of the child

  40. Hi Leslie, I just came across your post while trying to deal with my own guilt about not helping my dad and adult sister. They have gone behind my back twice, asking my husband for money to pay the rent and asking him not to tell me. Of course he does. I told them no, we can’t because they have “borrowed” over $2000 in the past couple years and have never even tried to pay a cent back. They are saying if u don’t give them the money they will be evicted. My sister goes on to say that I don’t care about my dad because I won’t give him the money . The truth is we just bought a house, have a son and just found out we have another on the way, so we really can’t afford it anyways. They just won’t stop. I don’t know how to not feel responsible. My sister, I should mention, is a drug addict who steals money from my dad all the time and when I called her out on that she just called me a heartless bitch. Family can be so difficult sometimes, I wish I didn’t feel this way.

  41. Sad to say, but I’m glad I’m not the only one going through this. My story…

    I had a free ride to college due to scholarships. My first year, my parents wanted me to take out a student loan for them because of financial difficulty. I love my parents and wanted to help them, so I did it. I ended up graduating college with $35,000 in student loan debt, all of which went to my parents because they couldn’t pay for their bills, mortgage, etc. I didn’t think to much of it because hey, they’re my parents… I owe them for giving me life right?

    That same year of my college graduation my mom unexpectedly died. She was the main source of income for my family (my dad never worked, although he is physically able). I had plans to get a post-Bach degree, but because my mother was gone, I felt like I had to step up and take on everything financially because I knew my dad wouldn’t. They had no savings, using up whatever money they had to travel, buy cars, and unnecessary things. At 22 I got a full time job, supported my 18 yr old brother and 49 yr old dad. I paid for rent, utilities, food, etc etc. I put my career goals on hold in hopes that my brother and dad would be able to get on their feet after the passing of my mom.

    I moved out of the apartment we shared 2 years ago because arguments arised all the time about money, them wanting a weekly “allowance” on top of me paying for everything else. Since those 2 years I’ve been gone, I have still paid their rent (the apartment is under my name because none of them bring income, although I don’t live there) and have given them money when they ask for it. They only call me during the 1st of the month and 15th of the month because they know that’s when I get paid. Ive only recently learned to tell them “NO” and they guilt me about my moms death and how she would want me to help them into giving them money. When I stand firm, they come to my WORKPLACE and station their car outside waiting for me, sometimes even going into the building to have someone get me so they can talk to me. It’s embarassing to say the least.

    My dad goes to my Fiance’s parents house and posts open letters about how I owe them rent money, he posts letters on my car window while I’m at work, he tells my grandparents that I’m not helping him or my brother (I’ve found out that my grandparents are giving him a monthly allowance as well), and he bad mouths me to my family, giving me no credit of the financial help I’ve given for the last 5 years. They all think he’s working, when his “work” really consists of him guilting and badgering me for money. He’s putting so much effort into getting money from me instead of looking for a job. He uses my 23 yr old brother to get to me, to the point where even my brother is asking me for money also. They both don’t have jobs and my dad has told me flat out that he doesn’t want to work and that the purpose of kids are to help their parents…

    Again, he and my brother are physically able to work but CHOOSE not to work. He and my brother can easily move in with my grandparents, but they’ve turned that down because my dad wants independence to do whatever it is he does on a daily basis. I’ve given them resources, done their resumes, etc. What else can I do besides give them money?? I barely make enough to pay for my own things and have something left over to save after each paycheck.

    I’m still standing firm on saying NO to them, regardless of the constant calls, texts, and letters. It’s been 5 years since my mom passed and were still back at square 1, with them having no jobs. I still feel guilty and selfish and sad when I say NO, but why help when they don’t even want to help themselves right? It’s so easy to say, but so hard to act on it…

  42. my dad bought my mum a car he cant afford on finance. also i gave him 1000 pounds of my car insurance i had lost year fo rwork that he is doing on my nans house. then i did a balance transfer for him where i transferred 1000 pounds of his credit card over to my credit card. I am not working right now and i am a student. he is now asking me to do another balance transfer for him on to my ccredit card of 1500 that he spent on a holiday for him and my mother. but i have about 5000 pounds of my own debt on my credit card that i am just about managing to pay, i really cant do any more. in the past i have given him 500 pounds also. that i dont expect any of this money back , i just wish hed stop putting any further money problems on me.

  43. and when i said i could probably transfer 1000 for you. his response was ‘1000??’ as if that werent enuf because he needs to transfer 1500. what he dont understand is i am trying to pay off all my debt so i can start a positive future. and all this debt i got myself into i really dont need him making it worse for me. now i feel resentment the way he responded like 1000 wasnt going to be enough. what he dont realise is im already got to pay 50 minimum payment on one my cards and if he transfers 1500 that will increase to 87 punds minimum payment a month. i am only receiving job seekers money right now too. and i have another credit card of my own debt too which i must pay by sept this year when transfer expires. so my dad is getting me into more and more debt for the sake of tryimng to keep my mum happy

  44. plus that 1000 i gave him of my car insurance money after my car crash was meant to be for me to buy a car so now i am left with no car. all this help i gave him i was happy with. but now he wants more im starting to feel alot of resentment because i am now struggling myslef. there was weeks when i only had 20 pounds per week or less for food. there weree days that i couldnt afford food. so i was happy going through all that to allow him to have my last 1000 pounds but now im starting to find my feet again almost and he wants more is making me really really annoyed

  45. Thank u so much for this post. It really gave me perspective on my own situation that is similar to yours, especially on the sacrifices part. :)

  46. This thread drives home the fact that most individuals do not have any safety net when they get older and have limited finances. If your gut tells you you are being selfish, then you are. This is exactly the kind of emotional burden I chose to not carry by taking care of my parents and sibling until their death. Now I have no emotional burden and feel totally free to think of them without guilt. My parents were far from perfect parents, my father was narcissus, mean, and manipulative. I chose to take a higher road, to be humane and take care of him. My children observed this, and have repeatedly told me that I will not have to worry when I become unable to care for myself.
    The numbers of abandoned parents in nursing homes is astounding. After reading this thread, it’s no surprise. Selfishness is not a family value.

  47. My sister and I are going through something like this. More my sister, than me, since she and her husband worked very hard to be where they are at. The thing is that our father, that has been divorced from our mother for more than 30 years. He has a family. He is retired. His wife has a clothing store that is a money pit. Is always on the red. They own their own house and have a house at the beach. Despite of what they have, my father is always asking my sister for money. Mostly health wise. I have myself offered to pay for this new teeth, because I noticed he wasn’t eating right or smiling. The thing is I feel resentfull towards him, since he never had the responsability of paying child support (my mother never asked). He and his family always had everything and now that me and my sister got our lives pretty much together, I feel they don’t help themselves out. They are always expecting my sister to pay his medical bills, surgeries, her store employee and sometimes I feel they would be able to get the money, but they prefer asking my sister. Despite everything I still feel that guilt inside me that I should help him. Reading your article makes feel a little bit stronger in not feeling guilty. Thank you

  48. I’m 24 and was in college for three years. My mom and step-dad had always told me that I owed them for raising me. Over the three years I had gotten financial aid which adds up to about 18000 dollars. It all mainly went to my mom and step-dads debt that they were in. I have major depression and every time I try to break free of them they reel me back in with discouraging words of how I could never make it on my own. I see a therapist and she says she wants to help me become independent. Which did not make my mom happy at all. She doesn’t want me to move out, she wants me to get a job and help to pay the bills because I am living with them. And I can understand helping out the family every now and again, but it’s like she’s a sucker fish and she is sucking away all of my money. She even takes all the money I had from past jobs. Honestly, I am just getting tired of it all and want a way out but I don’t have anyone to turn to and I can’t seem to bring myself to go to the lighthouse because I want to fight my way to get out. I want to become stronger and break free from their strangling hold. And before you ask, my real dad is dead… I don’t have any grandparents… And I have no friends who will take me in. No one wants to deal with me, I guess.

  49. I am going through it now. My sisters husband can hardly ever keep a job for more than a few months. I think he id depressed. My sister works, but its not nearly enough to support them. They have so many children. And they are dirt poor. My sister started asking for “loans” a while back. thus far I gave her nearly $4,000
    I always think of the children, and of my poor sister stressing about it all.
    Now she asked again, and i feel that I am resenting giving any more. I am so angry that the husband does not provide. Yet the guilt comes in and says, what if G-d forbid you fall on hard times? Thing is, I hate taking with out giving. If I am invited for a meal I bring a nice bottle of wine etc. I would hate to feel I was using some one. Now I feel I am being used. The fact that I no longer wish to give makes me feel like I am a very bad selfish person.

  50. I am sorry for the pain in all these stories, but appreciate knowing I’m not alone.
    A week ago, my biological mother (I was raised by my maternal grandmother), with whom I have an “arm’s length” relationship for many reasons left a weepy, three minute long message on my voicemail about an overdue cable/internet bill she couldn’t afford, what was she going to do (“I have no real friends”, she sobbed, “TV and the Internet are all I really have”), could I “loan” her the money to pay it. Despite the nagging guilt (which I loathe in myself), I vowed to myself to not return her call or slap yet another band-aid on her endless monetary wounds.

    Today she called again and I answered – against my better judgment! I naively thought that maybe she was calling to apologize for last werk’s hysterical message. Nope. Without any lead-in AT ALL she started another tearful saga – this one involving money owed to a landlord. I had to stop her; I couldn’t stomach another word. I (finally) told her how I felt, after years of her userous behaviour: hurt that she only contacts me when she wants something, hurt that she never says “how are you?” (I’m 40 and recently diagnosed with inflammatory arthritis which is not under control yet and is causing a lot of stiffness and pain), sick of her sense of entitlement because I’m financially stable and she’s not
    she never gave a cent to support me growing up, even at the times she was employed). I ended up telling her I couldn’t talk about it anymore right now and hung up.

    After years of giving her money she NEVER offers to repay, her inability to acknowledge that her own poor decisions have landed her in her current situation, her victim mentality, etc. I decided that I’m done. Guilty twinge or not, I am NOT responsible for her. As I write this, I’m thinking about the things I’ve given her over the past 15 years: cash, grocery cards, a gym membership, clothes, a tablet…of course she keeps coming back for more. D-uh.

    She has called my cell and homeline four more times today. She got my husband once and started to plead her case to him but he kindly but firmly shut her down. As he reminded me earlier, I have my health and two sweet kids to worry about. She needs to face her life and figure this one out herself.
    Thanks for letting me vent. Phew!!

  51. What is wrong with most people on this post, you are supposed to financially help another family member who is in need, help not lend … for who long? … for as long as you can and as long as he/she needs … you can’t because you are expecting another baby!!! … how phenomenally short sight are you … this baby is not spending a dime on you if or when you need – and you will – because your baby is now is a dumb ungrateful grown up ass who forgot how many times you latterly had to deal his shit and is now expecting yet another baby that will also grow to be as selfish and stupid as your baby and you

    1. It depends on the situation Rami. It has to be a two way street. If the relationship is two way, such as me and my parents, then you are correct. If it’s only the parent nagging for money and never helping or calling the child, such as my wife and her parents, then it’s no longer helping because they EXPECT the money, and depend on it like a job. Then you aren’t helping them because they would go down the drain if something happened, such as you losing your job, or death occurred. Yes I help my parents with money, but my parents turn around and take my wife to and pick her up from work when I’m unavailable because of my job. My wife does not have a drivers license. My Dad will make my car payment. My Dad will pay my student loan payment, etc. Anytime my wife pulls out her debit card to pay for gas, my Mom and Dad tell her to put that card up. They’ll pay for the gas. We help each other. That’s the difference. My wife’s parents only want help for themselves. My wife has been moved out of there for five years, and her parents have not come to see her once. Then her mom gets mad if we don’t go see them. We live less than an hour away. Like I said, it has to be a two way street.

  52. Your situation is similar to my boyfriends. My boyfriend is 20, and I feel as if his parents are holding him back in life by always asking him for money. He still lives at home, he works and he is in school, although he is not able to file for financial aid he has to pay for all of his schooling out of pocket, and this is where it has become difficult for him to get his life straightened out. I worry about him a lot with his parents constantly needing money for their bills and grocery expensives as well as their other needs and wants. He has two younger brothers who are still in school, his dad works at a car dealership while his mother does not work at all. It’s hard for their family to make ends meet, so they often rely on his money to keep everything together. He has admitted to me that he feels that they take him for granted and just always expect money from him, and he feels hopeless because it leaves him stuck with being broke and trying to pay for classes. I’m just so worried about him and it breaks my heart to watch.

  53. I too suffer from a manipulative parent. I have witnessed my mother struggle financially my entire life. She worked but just couldn’t make ends meet. At 16 I got a job & worked over 40 hours per week just so that I could make my own money & not be a “burden” to my mom for asking for lunch money, school clothes, or books. I had somehow convinced myself that taking care of myself financially was my responsibility at age 16. I also felt indebted to my mom so I also gave her money for gas, cigarettes, to pay bills etc. My mom never told me I didn’t need to give her money & she accepted it more than willingly. I think this is where the feelings of obligation came in for me. Now 10 years later & I’ve basically been the parent when it comes to finances. I’ve given my mom large amounts of money numerous times. The largest amount at once being $1,000. Then $600 here, $300 there, another $100. Overall I’ve given my mother close to if not more than $10,000 since the age of 16. Here I am now at 26 & living on my own trying to establish my own life & career. I’m not able to support myself financially & still give or let my mom borrow money. It’s clear that my mom has become expectant of me helping her financially instead of doing anything to help herself make the money that she expects me to just give to her.

    For the first time in 10 years my mom asked to borrow money & I told her no because I did not have it. Her reaction to that was so cold. I’m halfway upset with myself that I don’t have the money to let her borrow (I know I’m screwed up in the head for blaming myself for this) while also hurt by her rude reaction to me saying no FOR ONCE IN 10 years.

    I don’t want to feel like this anymore. I’m tired of my mom treating me like her pseudo spouse & that I’m supposed to go half on all her bills simply because she can’t afford them herself.

    I didn’t even realize how my mother has been manipulating me financially for all these years until about 1 year ago. Since then our relationship has been pretty distant. My mom even tries to make me feel obligated to do for my little brother (high school age) what is her responsibility as a parent like take him school clothes shopping and PAY, take him out for extracurricular activities with no money from her, pay for his hair cuts, for him to eat out. EVERYTHING!

    I’m really fed up & just about ready to severe ties to minimal interactions especially after this last incident & her mean, entitled, belittling & manipulative reaction off of the one time I said no to letting her borrow money.

    I feel bad because I don’t want to feel this way about my mom but she is abusing me emotionally by doing this & now that I can clearly see & comprehend this something has got to change.

  54. So… he “doesn’t depend on others” but he depends on you for money. Sounds contradictory. I would just not talk to him at all. He doesn’t respect you at all.

  55. I feel better knowing that I’m not the only one after reading these comments. My dad is 80 years old. My mom passed away 4 years ago, and was the backbone of our family. I just graduated with my Master’s degree in May and finally have a decent job after five years of college. My brother also has a good job, but he has two small children – one of whom has expensive heath issues. My dad has consistently kept about $4,000 in his account, but has spent about $500 of his balance this month, and depleted a $1,500 savings account working on his truck. Now he is demanding that my brother and I give him money. I already buy all his groceries and pay the property taxes, and my brother buys his tires for his truck, etc… He is telling us he is “so depressed about his money situation”…I told him I was going to take him to see a specialist that deals with depression, and he had a fit and told me he wasn’t going. I am at my wits end. It is now an every night ordeal. Tonight he demanded to know what I made last year, and why I couldn’t afford to help him! I think I need some counseling myself :)

  56. The best answer to the guilt trip about paying for stuff when you were growing up is to say something like, “If you didn’t want to pay for my expenditures when I was a child, then you should have kept that thing in your pants.” At some point, you need to realize that beating around the bush does not work. It’s time to just start being blunt at them. Just recently, my mother in law tried to pull a guilt trip on my wife. My wife just hands the phone to me since I deal with money issues. I explain where we are barely getting by ourselves so we can’t give money, and as always, it’s not enough. She starts acting like a child because she doesn’t get her way, playing a guilt trip of about to lose an apartment and a car. So I just start being blunt at her. I start by telling her that her husband, my wife’s step father, has not had a job in five years, making it his fault for putting them in the situation. Her response was that he filed for disability three months ago. I then tell her that the excuse does not explain the previous four years and nine months, so it’s still his fault and that he should have made better choices. Just two years ago I told him about my job that will pay him good about 45 minutes from them, he says that’s too far. Around the corner from their apartment, McDonalds was hiring and his excuse was that it wouldn’t be enough money, leading me to believe that he just doesn’t want to work. I feel no pity for someone who just doesn’t want to work. He can still speak and walk, so I personally feel that if they were really about to be homeless, he could still go to Wal-Mart and say “Hi, welcome to Wal-Mart” for $9 an hour. People in worse shape and 40 years older than him do that job. Because of the way this all went down, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that my mother in law is lying to us. I don’t trust my in laws because they manipulated my wife for about ten years before she met me. I’m the one who put a stop to it. I just don’t feel they deserve help until they are willing to help themselves. They live in the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex where a run down apartment is 600-800 a month, and he refuses to move outside the metroplex where I have found decent apartments 350-500 a month. My mother in law’s job is easy to transfer between locations. Like I said, they won’t help themselves. All the handouts eventually came back to bite them in the butt. Be blunt at people like that. They will eventually get tired of being told no and having the truth revealed to them.

  57. Hi Leslie,

    I resonate with your experience to some extent in relation to feeling manipulated to lend money. At the moment I am in a tough spot myself trying to figure out what to do about my situation with my father. My situation is compounded by poor family dynamics. Forgive if I am going off topic too much but I just need to get some of my thoughts out because I can’t deal with this on my own.

    I moved out when I was 15 due to an unhealthy home environment that would not allow me to properly focus on work or school. By the time I turned 16 I was on social assistance under special circumstances (because I was not yet “age of majority”) the special circumstances being that I had to have a trustee, prove full-time school attendance and go to regular counselling. Technically, because I was under 18, my parents were still legally responsible for providing financial support to meet my basic needs but that never happened and I never knew about the legality issues at the time otherwise I would have looked into for legal assistance in the manner.

    Long story short I worked multiple jobs, moved frequently and had a lot of responsibilities early on that my peers did not have to worry about all while trying to complete high school and get into university with decent grades. I have now finished my undergraduate degree but have a lot of student debt because I had to rely on student loans to pay for my schooling. I worked as a research assistant for three years during my studies and managed to save up quite a bit of money considering that I was paying for my living expenses on my own.

    My father was not emotionally available for the most part of my childhood but a few years after my mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia and on suicide watch consistently it seemed like he wanted to try to spend some time with me. I am confused about whether his intensions were genuine or if they served him more than anything else. He would visit me once in a while during my undergraduate years and most of the time he would talk about work troubles and anxiety issues instead of giving me a chance to talk about what I needed to talk about once in a while. Eventually he started to ask for money here and there.

    It started off with “oh can I borrow $20-$50 dollars for gas so I can get to the job site?”. It slowly became a daily occurrence until I had lent him well over $2000 total. When I would implore that I needed the money to pay bills or to pay back OSAP (student loan) he would promise that he would pay me back. I believed him at first which I now feel utterly stupid for doing. In hindsight, what is particularly disturbing to me now is how manipulative he was throughout the entire process. When he was asking for all this money I was in a terrible state mentally dealing with severe depression and was suicidal. I was holding on to any shred of hope I could find just to convince myself that it was worth living through another day. HE KNEW I was suicidal because I told him about it. There were numerous times when I said I couldn’t lend him the money and he would say “then I won’t be able to get to work to make money and if you don’t give me money for gas then you can’t expect me to come and see you”. I was so desperate for him to visit me at times because I was afraid of being alone considering the mental state I was in. I was afraid I might hurt myself if I was left alone but at the same time I was too paranoid to go to the hospital because I was not thinking straight. It turns out that I was experiencing bipolar disorder.

    I have still not gotten any of the money back from my father and when I bring it up to him he yells at me. I recently finished my undergraduate degree and was going to apply to graduate school but could not afford the application. I told my dad that I needed some of the money I loaned him in order to pay for my application and he promised he would give it to me but he never did. I will now have to wait another year to apply and hopefully I will be better enough (health wise) to work more so I can save more money. I feel cheated, ashamed and stupid for believing my dad’s promises. Worse, I feel stupid for believing that he wanted to build a relationship when that didn’t exist before. What was I thinking? My father is back to ignoring my existence like he did when I was a child. I will never, ever lend him money ever again even though it is hard to say no and hear him manipulate me. Sometimes I think to myself that my father couldn’t care less when I was living off of $60 a month for groceries while I was in high school so why should I help him? I feel guilty for thinking this way. I always ask myself if I am selfish. I wonder sometimes if I am being spoiled or entitled for wishing that my parents could help me more financially, mentally emotionally. I have lots of conflicting emotions and a lot of times don’t even know how to feel about the entire situation. I am slowly coming to realize that I will not see that money.

  58. My Dad walked out on us when I was in High School but even before that Mom supported the family and some my father’s family who were living with us. When my Dad left he did not give any kind of support (financial or otherwise). When I finished school and got a job, he started calling me whenever he needed money and once I give him what he wants I will not hear from him until the next time he wants funds again. He doesn’t have a steady job so we sort of fell into a routine of me giving him $200 monthly allowance that I will deposit directly to his account regularly, this went on even after I got married (for 15 years), that’s beside the “emergencies” that happens very often when he would need additional money. A few years ago, he got into his mind to start a “business” (he didn’t give me specifics) so he “borrowed” $10,000 from us and told me, that it will be the last time and that I won’t need to send him monthly allowance anymore. We didn’t have communication for almost 2 years but then I guess the “business” failed and he started asking for monthly allowance again which is higher than the last time. However, this time my husband and I already bought a house, a car and have a baby. My husband and I decided that we want to prioritize our future now and of our baby. When my Dad asked for money, I told him I don’t have money to give him anymore since we are getting old and we need to start saving for our retirement and for my baby’s education and I have mortgage and car loan as well. My Dad told me that I am so ungrateful and that as soon as I have paid him for the life that he gave me, then we are even and he won’t bother me anymore. I cried so hard I couldn’t breathe when he said that. I still said no when he told me that and Dad disowned me. Now I don’t have any communication with him anymore.I still worry about him but at least now we have more wiggle room financially and I don’t need to work 2 jobs to have money to give them. I feel sad that I don’t have communication with my Dad and he hasn’t met my baby.. but sometimes I feel guilty mixed with relief that this toxic relationship with my Dad is in “hiatus”. Honestly, I don’t know how I would feel the next time I see or talk to my Dad.

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