Dear Amy: I have three children, ages 38, 41, and 52.
The two youngest have children under the age of 10.
Every year I give the children thousands of dollars. I give my oldest three times as much because she has been ill for several years, even though she refuses to see a traditional doctor.
None of my children acknowledge my gifts. The middle child will thank me if I ask if the money has shown up in the children’s accounts.
This is complicated by a car accident when my eldest, while she was high on drugs, killed a woman and her baby.
She went to jail for four years. I visited her on weekends, taking away time from the other two. We had to move to another city to avoid death threats to our family, mostly to the children.
The youngest two still don’t speak to her.
Now my oldest isn’t speaking to me because I “favor her siblings.”
I don’t expect gratitude, but an acknowledgment would be nice.
I have had years of therapy, but my children refuse to get any.
Do I have any options, aside from stopping all my giving?
— Worn Out Mother
Dear Worn Out: Based on your brief description, your eldest’s fate wasn’t the result of an accident, but a terrible crime that she committed.
Your family dynamic is still entwined with its long-term consequences.
You are your daughter’s mother, and you stalwartly stood by her as she served out her sentence, but now she seems to be imposing her own sentence upon you.
Your generous support of her might be keeping her right where she is (ill, angry, and dependent), and your other children are accepting your largesse without thanks as a way to punish you for that.
In my opinion, someone who refuses to even speak to you should not be rewarded with a generous check. (Or any check.)
You should only spend money directly toward this daughter’s rehab and therapy.
I also believe that you should redirect some of this generosity to a victim’s fund in memory of the two people whose deaths she caused.
You should express yourself honestly to your other two children. Tell them that you expect both gratitude and thanks for the money you give to them within a week of receiving the money, and if they don’t do that, you understand that this will be their message to you that they don’t want these funds.
You should also consider redirecting your giving away from them and into a trust for your grandchildren’s education.
Dear Amy: My live-in boyfriend is a low-level pot dealer.
Honestly, this has always bothered me, but he says that now that pot is legal in our state, he is no longer breaking the law, but running a business.
I basically hate the fact that he does this. It brings losers into our home at odd hours and I have at times felt unsafe.
I guess I’m writing to you because I’d like a gut check. I value your point of view and could use another perspective.
So — what do you think?
Dear Tired: In my state (where consuming pot is now legal), individuals can grow a small number of plants for their own use, but it is still illegal to possess more than three ounces and to sell it outside of a legitimate and licensed business.
You should do some research into the web of laws and regulations where you live in order to understand (better than your boyfriend does) the extent to which he is breaking the law.
More important, in my mind, is the atmosphere this creates in your home, and how vulnerable you are to the stream of strangers entering the home.
And so I’ll ask you two questions you should ask yourself:
Is this how you want to live?
Is this the partner you want and deserve?
He has made choices to serve his own needs — and you have the right and responsibility to make choices for your own benefit.
Dear Amy: The story from “Basically a Single Parent,” (about an inattentive father), while serious, is not new.
Paul F. Boller, in his “Presidential Anecdotes” book, recounts a time when Mary Lincoln was at church while Abe was looking after baby Robert.
As Mary exited the church, she saw Abe walking down the street reading a book while pushing the carriage – right off the curb, heading into traffic. Mary rushed to the rescue.
— Illinois Reader
Dear Reader: It was ever thus. Sigh.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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