Dear Annie: I am a blessed child of two wonderful, loving people. My parents are incredibly generous. Right now, they are putting my sister through school and paying all of her expenses so she will graduate debt-free. They have helped me in countless ways, both emotionally and financially, and my husband, as well. They have custody of my cousin’s child because my cousin is a drug addict. They also help my grandfather, saying how fortunate they are to be in a position to do so.
My issue is with “Aunt Liz.” Ever since I can remember, she’s been sponging off my parents. My parents are raising her grandchild, and she can’t even be bothered to babysit for a day. Liz used to work full time, but was temporarily on disability. When she was able to work again, she managed to lose every job she had. She doesn’t even try anymore. She just asks my parents for money.
My mom is stressed about the number of people depending on her and worries what will happen when she and Dad retire. She has started refusing when Aunt Liz wants money, but Liz will go to my father’s workplace and cry until he gives in.
Annie, it would be different if Liz were making an effort to become independent, but she’s not. How can I help my parents? – Sick of It
Dear Sick: Make sure your parents know how grateful you are for everything they have done for you. At the rate they are going, you may need to return the favor someday. Meanwhile, you cannot change the choices they make, but you can encourage them to present a united front to Liz, whatever it happens to be.