Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Not Right

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: My father passed away many years ago and my mother remarried and moved to a vacation home. However, she still owns the house we grew up in and two of my siblings now live there for free. My sister is 60, and my brother is 46. Neither has worked for years.

I talk to my mother about it all the time, telling her she is not doing them any favors by allowing this to go on. Can you tell her what a horrible thing it is to enable two perfectly capable grown adults this way? My mother is 82. What will they do when she is gone? I have two other siblings and the three of us don't take advantage of our mother this way. -- Not Right

Dear Not: We agree that this type of financial enabling is a huge liability. But a good work ethic and accountability need to be instilled when young. Your mother may consider these two children to be incapable of working, and that her support is all that keeps them off the streets. She does it out of compassion and guilt. She isn't asking us for advice, nor is she likely to take it, even if we point out the problems this will create when she is no longer in the picture.

Your mother should have a legal will to minimize disputes about her property and money. It's her decision, whether or not you agree. Your focus should be on forgiving all of them for what they are not, and then doing what you need to do in order to be sure that these siblings don't become too great a financial burden on the rest of you.

Dear Annie: I would like to respond to "Pat," who spends up to 12 hours a day helping her elderly mother at the nursing home and gets frustrated because other residents don't receive as many visits from their family members.

My 82-year-old mother is in an assisted living residence in Florida. I am a young, widowed working mother, living 700 miles away. I am also an only child. I do what I can for my mom, calling several times a week, sending cards, packages and flowers, and following up with the staff and her medical providers to ensure that she is well taken care of. I visit when I can, but it is an expensive flight or a 13-hour drive. Of course I wish I could visit more, but that is not possible.


Suggesting that absent family members "don't care" simplifies the reality for many of us. Not everyone has the luxury of time and proximity that Pat does, and she should consider herself fortunate for her arrangement. -- Sandwich Generation

Dear Sandwich: You are obviously a caring child. We don't think "Pat" meant to castigate those relatives who cannot come more often, only those who could do so easily, but make no effort. And it's not only children. Anyone can visit a person in a nursing home or assisted living facility. And parents who choose to retire and move far away from their family members should consider what's down the road.

Happy Canada Day to all of our readers north of the border.


Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2015. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at




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