Life Advice



Ask Amy: Enabling parents look for a way out

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: Recently, our adult daughter “Clare” asked us for $4,000 to help her daughter attend an extremely expensive college ($75,000 a year) on the East Coast. We had already just given Clare $5,000 (for another purpose), and we offered tuition and housing for community college. She refused.

My husband and I are retired public school teachers. We sent all three children to universities. They graduated debt-free.

Our monthly expenses exceed our teachers' retirement, but we have some savings and a little bit of income. Things are tight.

Clare has not managed her money well. When she was in college we sent her $500 a month and she immediately quit her part-time job. She has squandered literally millions on pricey schemes and expensive homes. She now finds herself divorced and close to penniless – yet she refuses to find a job and relies on us for help.

Now her daughter is making similar choices.

Clare and her daughter have not been close or kind to us, and have never stepped up during those rare times we’ve asked for physical assistance.


Both have lied about our treatment of them and have ridiculed our gifts and lives on numerous occasions.

I feel used when they come asking for financial help. Yet I feel obligated! How do we say, "This is not the kind of help we can easily continue to give?”

How do we say "no”?

– Tapped Out Teachers


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