Dear Annie: My 19-year-old son has been floating through life since he graduated from high school. He decided early in May that he was not going to return to college, so my husband, his stepdad, who has been in his life since he was 4, and I decided that he either needs to move out by July 1 or have a full-time job with a goal that he is working toward that we all agree on.
Enter my sister. Last weekend, she co-signed a loan for $23,000 for a 2016 truck that has more than 100,000 miles on it. She also allowed him to move into her house. She did not discuss any of this with us. He works at a hardware store part time and makes $250-300 a week. His truck payment is $440 a month; insurance is about $170; and gas is at least $100 a week. This lifestyle is not financially sustainable.
We think she basically allowed him to run away from responsibility. And we are very angry that she allowed – because she co-signed the loan – to get himself into a mountain of debt he can’t afford to be in.
Am I wrong to be upset with her? I know he is an adult and can make his own decisions, but I feel like she should have had a conversation with me before doing all this. Literally, we found out about her offer at 9 p.m. on the night before they did this. He just came home with the truck and packed up to leave. – Seriously Upset at My Sister
Dear Seriously: You have every right to be frustrated with your sister’s enabling behavior. Here you are trying to teach your son the value of a dollar and hard work, and she comes along and co-signs a big loan for him so that he thinks he can have free money. So, yes, you should have a talk with your sister and explain the life lessons you are trying to teach your son. However, don’t forget that if he can’t make the payments on the truck, she will be stuck with having to come up with the money.
Although he is legally an adult, he is still your son, and you have a right to give him good advice on how to live his life, starting by explaining that hard-earned financial independence is a sign of adulthood.
Dear Annie: In reply to the wife whose mother-in-law has hinted at moving in with her son and daughter-in-law, I thought of an additional way the daughter-in-law could address her mother-in-law’s possible loneliness. The wife might consider becoming knowledgeable about the senior residences in her local area.
It would, of course, be helpful if she knew someone who resided in one of the local senior residences and has a favorable impression of her living situation.
Most of these residences allow people to visit for lunch and tour the facilities. At times, a resident does participate in the lunch gathering of a visitor. Of course, the wife might have to approach this gradually and be sure the senior residence enjoys a good reputation. The mother-in-law could use the proceeds from the sale of her house to fund her living arrangements at the senior residence.
The son and wife could assure the mother-in-law that they understand she might be lonely, but at this time, moving in with them is not an answer. However, they would still see each other often if she were in a local senior residence.
If the mother-in-law is pet-friendly, having a pet also helps with loneliness. – Senior Advocate
Dear Senior Advocate: Thank you for your wonderful suggestion.
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