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Parents enable adult child

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Updated: October 9, 2012 1:59PM



Dear Annie: My older sister, “Susie,” is 33 and has been receiving financial support from my parents for more than a decade. They give her money outright and also pay her car insurance, health insurance and other bills. Susie does not work. She’s in a master’s program, but it is unclear whether she will finish. My mother believes she needs to help Susie, as she has had mental illness issues throughout her adulthood.

I am not upset that Susie is receiving money from my parents. It also doesn’t bother me that I am not likely to receive similar assistance. But I worry that my parents are giving Susie no reason to finish her degree or pursue a job. I consider it enabling.

On several occasions, Susie has maxed out her credit cards, and my mother paid those off. My parents do not have the money to continue doing this. Is it appropriate to speak with them about this?

A Sister Who Doesn’t
Know What To Do

Dear Sister: We don’t know the extent of Susie’s “mental illness issues” and whether or not she is capable of holding down a job or finishing her degree. Your parents believe they need to help her until she can support herself, and that pursuing a master’s degree will allow her to find gainful employment. We hope they are right.

While you do not get to decide how your parents spend their money, you can bring up this subject and ask whether they have made arrangements for Susie’s care after they are gone.

Write to anniesmailbox
@comcast.net



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