Loading...
BYH Zoning Commission. Take your chairs and sit in the field by Bostic Sugg in morning or afternoon and tell the...

Parents deny cash-strapped kids financial and emotional support

Carolyn Hax

Carolyn Hax

Loading…

Carolyn Hax

Friday, September 7, 2018

Q My parents (mom and stepdad) are in their 70s, retired, healthy and doing well financially. They spend their money on traveling the globe and constantly remodeling their new Florida McMansion. That’s fine. They can spend their money on whatever makes them happy.

They weren’t the most caring parents. They did provide what they thought they should, but anything extra — school activities, extra clothing, hobbies, cars, etc. — my siblings and I were expected to take care of on our own. And we were expected to move out at 18. Again, that’s fine. We are very independent.

My sister had joint-replacement surgery and has high medical bills. I am going through a legal fight with a previous employer, am unemployed for the first time in my life (I’ve had a job since I was 14), and legal bills are eating my 401k. Our parents know the details. We’re not asking for any help.

But I don’t want to get on the phone with my mom and have to hear all the issues of remodeling rooms that looked perfectly fine when I visited a year ago. Plus they don’t even ask how things are going with their children and grandchildren. It’s all talk about superficial things and how awesome they are doing.

There are other old issues stemming from some childhood abuse and all the divorces, but my mom is in complete denial about that.

I don’t want to talk to them anymore. I want to tell them that since they choose to live (what I consider) selfishly, they should not expect me to just smile and nod.

But we are made to feel guilty if we don’t call as often as my mom thinks we should.

Do I just ghost my own parents? Seems no matter what I do, they’ll think I’m awful and wrong. — Hate the Smile and Nod

A Is that the worst that could happen, though? That parents you think are awful and wrong think you’re awful and wrong?

Plus, if you’re not on the phone with them, then it’s an awful-and-wrong falling in a forest. Who’s to say it even happened.

But let’s back up for a second. You’ve presented this as a two-item menu: either endure your mom’s affluenza, or stop calling your parents.

There’s a middle choice, though: truth. “Mom, (sister) and I are buried in legal and medical bills. I can’t sympathize over expensive renovations.”

She won’t respond well to that, right? So have this handy: “OK then. Let’s talk another time.” (click) This middle is where you set the agenda to your emotional limits, making time to converse with people — but not to be anyone’s audience. Draw this line case-by-case, whenever and wherever you need.

To back up even further: It’s hard for anyone to rewrite the emotional terms of a long relationship. It’s harder still when the old terms are unhealthy and lifelong. You mention “childhood abuse and all the divorces” as a tangent, but how is that not central?

To have kids fend for themselves on the material margins is a valid doctrine; to do so emotionally is an abdication of parental duty.

Some therapists will charge on a sliding scale, so consider looking for a good one near you. Your parents’ legacy might run deeper than you know.

Email Carolyn Hax at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Look

February 16, 2019

Although we’ve had some warm weather, it's still winter. But as a tease, paper-whites are opening up in the yard, and red maples are already showing their bright flowers. Fragrant Daphnes and a few withering winter-sweets are scattered around the neighborhood, and this afternoon we had a…

021619mystery.JPG

February 15, 2019

There have been plenty of movies about tough women. In fact, picking the Top 10 is harder than you might think. But here goes, the ones I picked and the ones I didn’t.

10) Trinity, “The Matrix” — Carrie-Ann Moss’ Trinity was hacker chic before the hacker chic of…

Sigourney Weaver

February 13, 2019

If you’re hungry and seeking more authentic flavor for your next meal, why not and take a trip to India without leaving Greenville. Go beyond steak & potatoes, dive into a new culture, expand your culinary palate and you’ll be sure to add Cinnamon Indian Cuisine to your top…

20190206_123537.jpg

February 13, 2019

Q: My girlfriend is a health nut, but I really want to give her some chocolate for Valentines. Is it ok? MK, Greenville

A: Kathryn Clary, a Brody medical student, suggests that dark chocolate really can prevent a broken heart with its benefits to the cardiovascular system. Here is what she wants…

Kolasa, Kathy

February 10, 2019

You're from out of town going 65 mph down the highway heading west, and you want to catch another highway going north. What do you think the exit sign should say in 3-foot-tall letters?

A) Gophertown

B) Exit 42

C) Gov. Tiddwilly Memorial Highway

D) Pinewood Mall

Quick, you've got nanoseconds to…

JimMullen

February 10, 2019

I was thinking recently about all the fallout from the removal of the Confederate soldier statue, “Silent Sam,” at UNC-Chapel Hill.

That, in turn, led me to remember the deafening silence of UNC’s first African American cheerleader, Jimmy Womack, during the football season of 1966…

Bob Garner

February 10, 2019

North Carolina’s most important emergency is not the next federal government shutdown. Nor is it a fake national emergency on the nation’s southern border.

Our state’s real emergency is a real threat to its dominant position in the world of barbecue.

Forget for a moment about our…

Nielsens

February 10, 2019

This story is part of an occasional series of features provided by the Greenville Historic Preservation Commission that will focus on city’s history and historic structures.

This picturesque two-story Victorian house, which stands across from the Greenville Museum of Art, has somehow remained…

Jones Lee.jpg

February 09, 2019

Most people tend to overlook tree bark as rather uninteresting, at best. It's too bad, because bark is a fascinating and often attractive plant "invention," and is actually rather complex in its various appearances and origin. Of course, it is only developed on woody plants. Clearly, bark varies…

platocc jbn.jpg

February 08, 2019

Capsules of movies playing locally. New releases are indicated with an asterisk.

A DOG’S WAY HOME — A dog travels 400 miles in search of her owner. (1 hour, 36 minutes) Rated PG. 

A STAR IS BORN — A musician helps a young singer find fame, even as age and alcoholism…

124 stories in Look. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 13
        Next Page»   Last Page»