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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Question 3

Dear Dr. T

   My husband has some money, not a great deal, from an inheritance from his parents. With this and his career he could make ends meet and save some money for his retirement, which may not be too far from now (he is
65 years old).
   He has three children in their thirties and forties, all of whom are capable people but are asking for or accepting money or expensive gifts from their father, which they wouldn’t need if they took responsibility for their own lives. The oldest, for example, did not talk to his father for years because he sold his house, which he no longer was using. This son was annoyed because he wanted his father to keep the house so he could live there, have some part time work and surf. My husband gives his children most of what they ask for.
In my estimation this giving of money and gifts sends the wrong message to his children.  He should not be trying to buy their love. It is apparent that his children want to milk him for his inheritance. I feel he should tell them that he has limited funds, limited time to work and amass money to last him for the rest of his life. He does not appear to want to do this.
   Your take on this whole scenario?


Dear Arl,

   My take on this is that you are understandably dismayed at the how dysfunctional your husband’s relationship with his children is and concerned about his saving for his retirement. But I think that is not the point - which is that this affects you as well. Your husband is enabling his children to remain dependent on him which is, undoubtedly, a lifelong dynamic which would be hard for him to change. But, that should not be your concern. The real question you should be asking is, not how you feel about his and his children’s relationship, but how, in practical terms, it may affect you. The money is not just for his retirement but for your lives together. If there will be less money for the two of you to live on comfortably, after he retires, this is what you should be addressing with him. You have a right to expect him to act responsibly when it affects you. If he wants to be a financial caretaker, maybe you can get him to realize that you and he need to take care of each other financially, and not continue enabling his grown up children who have never learned to be independent.

Dr. T.

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