Dear Annie: A few years ago, one of my sons needed funds for support during some difficult times. I explained that I would help, but that I needed the funds to be returned. His spouse was checking other avenues to gather it.
It has now been more than three years since the loan was given. In that time, they have purchased a second vehicle and even gone on a vacation to Disney World.
Recently, they were having an issue with one of their cars. My husband (my son’s stepfather) fixed it for them. When my son asked how much he owed for the repair, my husband said, “Just pay your mom what you owe her.”
I have yet to receive the money, and we have had several family functions.
I love my family, but I am not an ATM. This hurts me to my heart. I raised my kids as a single mom and a veteran and thought I instilled good values in them. I guess that doesn’t apply to all. — Confused and Disappointed
Dear Confused and Disappointed: Your son should keep his word and pay you back without your having to prompt him, but “should” doesn’t put money in the bank. It’s time to speak up and speak firmly. As you said, you’re not an ATM. You’re an autonomous person with a voice. Now use it.
Tell your son directly — not just through your husband — that you expect your son to pay you back in full within three months (or however long you deem acceptable).
Draft up a contract with a timetable and have him sign it. There’s no guarantee of his repayment unless you want to get an attorney involved, and I don’t get the impression you do. But he might be moved (i.e., shamed) to action once he sees how serious you are.
Lastly, don’t blame yourself for his lack of accountability. No matter how strongly we impress values upon our children, it’s up to them to see that those values stick in adulthood.
Dear Annie: I could have written the letter you received from “Tired of the Tips.” I, too, suffer from migraines and am tired of the tips.
People think they are being helpful, but what they are actually doing is negating years of pain and making me feel as if I have to justify being in pain.
If anyone wants something to say to a person suffering from migraines, stick with something like, “I am so incredibly sorry. That sounds awful.”
Please do not mention an uncle who had something vaguely similar or some special treatment or medication you’ve heard about.
I know “Tired of the Tips” is tired of tips, but if he or she wants a tip for dealing with the constant unwanted comments about his or her migraines, I have found that when I want people to know I will be indisposed for the week but don’t want any unsolicited advice, I say I am dealing with chronic paroxysmal hemicrania. It sounds sufficiently painful for people to accept as serious but too medical for them to feel comfortable with offering advice.
I hope “Tired of the Tips” can find a little comfort in knowing there are others who have that same frustration. — Yes, I Have Tried Excedrin
Annie Lane’s debut book — Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie — features favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette. The book is available as a paperback and e-book at the website http://www.creatorspublishing.
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