How to respond when your family asks for money

Note:This is one of the hardest things I’ve written about. I’ve personally gone through it and know how it can tear apart a family. In my case it was because I decided to help.

“Joe, you look awful.”

“Wow, is that a good way to greet a friend?” Joe asked me. “But now that you mentioned it, I haven’t been sleeping well.”

Joe then proceeded to tell me about his family situation and the stress it was causing. His brother wasn’t able to pay the rent-again-and came Joe for a loan.

“I’m getting tired of always having to bail him out. I love him, but loaning him another grand won’t solve his problem. And I’m getting tired of everyone assuming that because I run my own business I have money to loan them.” After a bitter chuckle, Joe added “I don’t know why I call it a loan. They never pay me back.”

It wasn’t the first time

Joe and I have been friends for years-heck, he gave me my start in sales! I was familiar with this drama in his family and saw it repeat several times a year. If it wasn’t his brother it was his cousin or uncle. One time their car was in the shop. Another time they were a bit short until payday.

It was like his family thought that because he was an entrepreneur he was their personal bank machine.

The straw that broke the camel’s back

This time things were different. The economic downturn was hitting Joe’s industry hard. He was struggling to keep the doors open, and the last thing he needed was this. In fact, the reason Joe and I were meeting was that I was advising him on his company’s sales and marketing.

Bottom line: he had nothing more to give.

Loaning money to your family is a lose-lose situation

When it comes to family, money, and loans you can’t win. You are a bad mother/son/brother (fill in the appropriate relationship) if you say no. It will poison your relationship even if you say yes. No matter what you do it can tear a family apart.

For entrepreneurs it can be even worse. People assume that just because you own the company that you are rich and that they are entitled. You can easily become their personal bank…or their welfare system.

With this in mind I’ve developed the following guidelines to help deal with the situation. Some sound cold and heartless, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. This is a decision that can have serious consequences. The decision must be based on facts and on what is best for everyone involved. Remember, the best answer is sometimes the one that hurts the most. People often tell me that the best thing that happened to them was that someone told them no. It forced them to grow up and solve the problem themselves.

7 Guidelines when family asks for money

1. Your not the bad guy…

You know the drill. The guilt is being applied. “Just this once…” “Don’t you love me?” You can afford it.” “Blood is thicker than water.” To make it worse other family members are calling you and asking why you won’t help.

You have done nothing wrong. They put you in a bad position, one that you often can’t win.

2. Step back and take a deep breath

The only thing that makes this so hard is that you are dealing with family. With anyone else it would be much easier. When family members ask you for money they don’t use logic. They push your buttons. This sets the stage for a major family crisis.

Now is not the time to make a decision based on feelings. You need to step away and get some space. If they push tell them you need time to think about it. If they keep pushing start asking them questions. This will put the responsibility back on their shoulders. Remember this is their problem. They are coming to you for a favor.

3. Separate emotion from fact

Now I know I’m going to get an earful about this. “It’s your mother. You owe her.” “How can you be so heartless?” “Don’t you love your family?” “Why do you hate your sister?”

Let me put that to rest right now. Decisions based on guilt rarely work out. Don’t be afraid to use decision making tools (I personally love a weighted pro/con list). Feelings and relationships are a factor, but the decision needs to stand on it’s own without the emotions to prop it up.

4. Am I helping or enabling?

This is tough because of the guilt involved. One thing to keep in mind is that often you are only making things worse by handing out money. People need to take responsibility for their own problems. In extreme cases they need to hit bottom before they can start to get better. In these cases the only way to help them is to stand firm.

Now I’m not saying you should always say no. You just need to make a clear headed logical decision that is in everyone’s best interests.

5. What are they doing to solve the problem?

Just bailing someone out won’t solve the problem. Are their expenses exceeding their income? Then they need to take steps to fix the problem. Do they have a gambling problem? Then they need to get help for the underlying addiction.

They need to take responsibility and be willing to fix their own problem. Otherwise this will come up again and again. Each time it will be a little worse.

6. You have the right to say no

Just because it is family doesn’t mean you are obligated to give them money. I hear the argument all the time that you should “honor you parents.” That doesn’t mean you are indebted to them for eternity. Yes you should respect and thank them for bringing you into this world. Just remember that this is a two way street. You deserve the same respect and appreciation as well.

Now most people have parents that gave them love and nurtured them. That is a different story. Then again, most people with loving parents aren’t put in this position.

You have to make the right decision for everyone involved. This needs to be based on facts, not some emotional tug at the heartstrings. If the right answer is no say no.

7. Always a gift never a loan

If you decide giving is the right decision make it a gift. You should never loan money to family. I don’t care if you get the terms in writing, you will never be able to enforce the contract. What are you going to do? Take them to court? I don’t care if they tell you they won’t take charity.

A loan will only poison the relationship. Each time you have to call to collect on the missed payment it will damage both of you. Even if you don’t have to make the call (unlikely) it will always get in the way of your family.

Note: a gift means no future expectations. You don’t have the right to ask for it back. They don’t owe you. You can’t use it for emotional leverage. It must be given freely.

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80 Responses to “How to respond when your family asks for money”

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  • Bree

    Thank you so much for this post! My mum & brother squandered mum\’s rather large inheritance from my dad passing, are now both enormously in debt & my mum is coming to me to pay her mortgage which is double the cost of my own mortgage. After 6 months of saying she needs a job she hasnt got one or even looked properly & has not put her house or my brothers on the market to sell. A \"gift\" she gave me for my birthday is now going on paying her mortgage for the next few months but after reading your post I realise I\’m becoming an enabler which I\’ve always despised my parents for being with my brother!
    Thanks to your post I now know it\’s ok to say no because she is not doing anything to help herself. Now I just have to try to be strong while watching the fallout.

  • SNOWHITE

    My husband and I turned his sisters down by refusing to help them financially. When they had a lot of money, they spent thme like crazy. They bought eveything they wanted. Even when they had not much, they still buy things they do not have to have such as a swimming pool, their kids go to private schools or dancing class. Why should we have to pay their bills? I did lend them money before, they never gave us the money back which is good since I learned my lesson. They still have the nerves to asking money again or even asked us to cosign a 45,000 dollars loan. LOL. I think they have lost their mind. Yes, we have been working very hard and never buy anything which is luxury for so many years, sure we have 500k cash in the bank, so what? My husband is 60 years old,I am 45, ew have 4 boys from 13 to 6. We have a long way to go and we haven\’t bought a house yet. We will use the money we saved to buy a relatively ok home soon. Smply because we have money, it doesn\’t mean we need to lend my sister in laws money. They need to learn their lessons.

    I hate to say that I have to see them on the holidays because my mother in law lives with 1 of his sisters. I did it only because I want to make my husbnad and my mother in law happy, my mother in law has lung cancer and is in stage 3. I buy her anything she wants since I believe she is my husband\’s mother, but his sisters are another story—I am not responsible for them. They try to make me feel guilty by not talking to me on Thanksgiving at their house. Ask if I care. Once my mother in law is gone, we will NOT see them again. That is me.

  • PFH

    This article and subsequent posts have really helped me! My mother has been ‘borrowing’ money from me since I was 12 years old…more than 35 years now! (That’s alot of money).

    Thank you for this post and your link to the article regarding honoring your parents. I’ve finally made the decision to STOP! I have truly had enough and, while I’m sure my mother will try to make me suffer, I know that I have the strength to stand my ground! I’m not going to feel guilty about working hard and having nice things…I’ve earned it and it’s not my responsibility to take care of a mother who abused me and made my life hell.

  • emma

    I am a 20 year old hairstylist, who’s parents have fallen on hard times. in the past 2 years i have given them close to 4k. they had stopped asking me for the past 4 months, so i had hoped things were getting better for them. this month my mom asked me for 400 cuz they were behind on the rent, by 3 months. i told them when they rented the house it was out of their budget, but they just brushed me off.

    its so hard to say no, and i already never expected to see any of it back. but now i need to start taking care of me. i need a car, and my wisdom teeth removed.

    i still feel like i want to help them out, if anything for my little brothers sake, but i need to set ground rules. thank you for your article and everyones posts.

  • SEE

    My feeling is that if you loan relatives, or anyone for that matter, money, never expect to get it back. You will never feel the pressure or disappointment in someone if this is your attitude. I have been pleasantly surprised by some people who have paid me back, but I never expect it.

    All three of the children in my husband’s family are currently “lending” their mother about $350 a month. And with that she is just meeting her bills. In addition, she is still giving money to her church to which I personally object. She is 96 and has given and given. Now we are in effect giving this money. She was a very poor mother to my husband pursuing a career and not caring for him properly, blaming him for being a bad child when in fact he was very ill and constantly being hospitalized. As a nurse, she made a decision to smoke throughout her pregnancy giving him a heart defect that nearly killed him as a child and later as an
    adult. Even at this stage of her life she is manipulative and expresses no love for him. If it were up to me she would get nothing. At age 62 he remains working in order to help support someone who was mentally abusive to him. She lives in style while he works in the evening in declining health. He knows that he stands no chance of getting her to pay him back and she has given all her valuable things to a preferred daughter instead of selling then for her own upkeep. She has dropped her small burial policy because she says her church will take care of things. Fat chance. I’m quite sure we will be paying that as well. I love my husband and worry about him. And I have absolutely no guilt about my feelings toward his mother.

  • nelson

    Hi
    I am now in a strange situation . One of my elder brother is in a bad financial situation . He has low salary and is struggling to meet his expenses . He is a clean man with no bad habits . Married and has a girl child of 7 yrs old. he is always worried about his life and situation .

    Now I am better off financially and really wanted to support him . I am confused now whether helping him straight is right or not . Reason for my confusion is my brothers attitude in his life. Though he has a low paid job , he is reluctant to trying better job , reluctant of trying other ways of making money share trading , agriculture etc . I want him to get this attitude to fight it out , but he is very much afraid and dont want to take risk .
    Can some one advice me .

  • Brandt Smith

    @nelson – I’m going to be blunt and just come out and say it. You are not doing your brother a favor by helping him out. He will never take the next step and improve his life as long as he can lean on you. Be there and support him emotionally. Feel free to provide a great example.

    But let him live his own life – good or bad!

  • soleil B.

    Hi,

    I really need help, as I don’t know what to do… I actually know, but, I wasn’t successful enough in applying my own decision.

    I’m 30-something and have good yearly income. I’m single. I’m coming from a low income family with many children. My father was an alcoholic for many years, and he almost never had a proper job, almost never supported the family. So, since graduating from university (was a very bright student, only in the family…) I’m almost only supporting my family. I sometimes try to save money, but, there’s always one or the other thing, they need money. My older sibling tried to set up his own company, which failed badly and I had to pay so much dept for him. Also, I supported him for his marriage, paid most of the debt. That’s only one thing… I supported my younger siblings during their studies, which is still going on. (children with big age gaps)

    I don’t know how to stop. I’m single, and have no boyfriend, no marriage in foreseeable future. Thing is, if I marry, I would be able to stop giving them money, as I’m single, they feel, I should support them forever. I’m normally a yes-person, have huge difficulty saying no to anyone…

    I don’t know how to stop this all, as I’m losing hope in myself. Also, although working since more than 10 years, I could save little money due to all this family things. My family often depresses me. Also, one of my siblings has been getting the retirement salary of my mom since she retired. My mom cannot even request the card back, as that sibling is the favorite of her. She doesn’t as I’m the bank. I love them a lot, but, I also hate them so much, for putting me through this. Yes, I’m the one earning the best money, as I was the brightest child, but, am I guilty for being smart, for working hard??? My family is using me badly…

    I’m sorry it’s long.

  • Hannah

    My mother has plenty of money.. she just doesn’t let me know she has it. she makes out that she has no money until wednesday.. but i do not believe her one bit. I am 19 and she has asked me to lend her money on MY birthday.. i work hard for my money and i am a student.. money i have recently recieved will not last long and she has asked me for £100 for a bill she did not pay 1 yr ago.
    i said no but she just calls me names and starts on me. I try to save also but she just sees that i have money and asks for it. Its not fair because she has the money but does not want to spend it because she wants to go away on holiday.
    Im pretty much sick of it. I work hard and would like to save my money. not throw it away

  • Lisa

    I have a son he has a wife and 2yr old baby. I have my own business and do very well. I have bought them a car paid their rent and bills several times. So I decided to show the how run the same business. Well now they arent as successful as I am. They are still behind on their bills etc. All in the while asking me for more money. I offered them training to be better at their sales and they denied me. Now Im a bad person because I said no to more money. I dont know whats going to happen but i given a lot.

  • Excellent Article. Today I had an arguement with my mom because my salary check had not cleared and she wanted the monthly expense no matter what. I told her that if i were a girl, i would have considered selling myself up if that could fulfill your desires.

    But somehow after being helpless for the check not getting cleared and then listening to all that i could hear, and then replying the way i replied, i have realized that in the end, i was the one that felt guilty and your article helped me realize that i am not bad guy. thanks

  • Brandt Smith

    @Soleil – The answer is simple. Just stop. Really, stop it right now. No matter how hard they scream. No matter how much it hurts.

    You are not helping them. In fact, you are really hurting them by giving so much. Life teaches us lessons, and if someone gets bailed out they don’t learn the lesson. That opportunity to grow and improve was stolen from them, in this case by you!

    @Hannah – Is your mother’s behavior consistent with that of someone who loves you? Just because she is family doesn’t give her the right to mistreat you. It may be hard, but if the behavior continues stop talking to her.

    @Lisa – The answer is simple….cut him off. He will never learn until you do. And, to be blunt, you are being irresponsible and causing him harm by bailing him out all the time. Life teaches us if we are allowed to solve our own problems. Without these lessons we can’t grow. So unless your goal is to keep your son dependent on you, just say no.

    @Zeeshan – good for you! I’m glad I could be of service.

  • Willie

    Your right because I’m only 12 and my mom ask for money and I have not gotten it back. And when you said it only gets worse your right because on Day 1 she asked for $5 so I let that slide even though she didn’t pay me back. On day 2 she asks for $20. I’m like how do you leap from $5 to $20. I think since she is my parent and I’m still a child that she needs to be more responsible. If I confront her about she’s gonna say something like “Well you need to be more responsible too”. I know that and I’m trying to improve but she doesn’t even care.

  • am so sickened by my sister.i found my sister a job and she was fired because of some fraud and ineffectiveness in the job.i found her another which was low paying but she left since because it was hard to cope.her and the husband asked me to but some capital in the business they wanted to start.i took a loan from sacco of $1000 and put in there.when the business kicked off they pocketed all the money and they didnt care i was paying a loan with interest.i decided they should pay my interest back to me in four installments and its 4 months since the agreement and they have never paid a cent.am so bitter with them and i dont know what i can do because am still paying back alone.please assist me because am tempted to take it to the court at all cost.

  • S.R.

    I’m having a similar problem. My brother. He’s 19, unemployed with a son. He also is a habitual marijuana user. Now I’m on a fixed income, so he knows when to ask me for money and I’m sick of it. I’ve seen him flip out when my older sister refuses him money. Calls her every name in the book. He almost never pays me back when I give him the money. I don’t know what to do. I want to move and not tell anyone where I live.

  • Brandt Smith

    @sarah – To be blunt…you should just let it go. Forgive them, not to let them off the hook, but to free yourself from the caustic emotions.

    Then never loan them any money again, learning from your pain and becoming a better person.

    @SR – Don’t loan him money. I repeat don’t loan him money.

    Let him hit rock bottom. If he loves you he won’t push the issue. If he yells and screams, call the cops, then know he really doesn’t love anyone but himself.

  • Casey

    Narcissistic Father? Toxic parents or rightful guilt?
    I was a passenger in a very bad car accident when I was younger and after 6 years had a compensation payment. The day the money hit my account my dad called wanting me to ‘loan’ him £30,000 / $60,000. I however wanted to fund my Phd. I attend an Ivy league and it is unbelievably expensive. I got a house in order to remove my biggest out-going which is rent and take in lodgers to cover my living expenses. I told him I couldn’t afford it and after a few abusive phone calls and my aunt screaming and swearing at me in public at my graduation I hoped the worst was over.
    I was wrong. A month later he phoned up with the same demand. Informing me I was either lying or a silly ***** for refusing. He has now not spoken to me for a few months. To the extent that my mother had to call me in secret on my birthday.
    I don’t know how such a large amount could be a loan, how would he ever pay it back? He called me disgusting for wanting a legitimate business contract. Really what would be the point any way, I wouldn’t be able to sue him. I do understand that wanting a contract was bad on my part and disrespectful. I have lent him money before and he has paid it back, after some very awkward conversations and a couple of months of subtle reminders but it has only ever been to the tune of £1000 / $1000 of my student loan here or there. I just couldn’t take the leap of faith with £30000/$60000 and suspend my life until it was paid back.
    For a bit of back a story, we have never been a happy close family. I was more of a burden than a child. My dad was very domineering and the head of the household to tyrant proportions. I don’t have a real relationship with my mum as he would go into a rage if we spent time alone together. The man is and always has been a bully. He presents another face to the outside world, good fun and always giving. At home we are ruled by his temper and moods. He is violent but it is not too frequent. His need for ultimate control is seen as quirky. I am viewed as crazy, the odd one, over-sensitive. After all it was all ‘tough-love’, ‘deserved’, or ‘just a joke’. He hates when I graduate, first graduation him and my mother left immediately to visit Westminster Abbey leaving me alone at graduation (this was before the storm of £30,000), Masters he informed me that neither he nor anyone else wanted to come. The one thing he does like to do is take my degree certificates, my BA is currently located under his sofa ‘to look after it’ if he hasn’t already binned it. Sorry for that tangent, I am still rather hurt if I am being honest.
    He requires the money because he has been unemployed for 18 months after quitting his job and moving himself and my mother to the area with the highest unemployment in the country. The work he has been able to get has been ‘below him’. I get that he wants to be happy in his job and I want him to be. This is usual, this scenario has been repeated many times over the past four years. Quits his job, can’t get work for a year, gets a job, works for a year, quits his job, can’t get work for a year. It goes on and on.
    Why are they entitled to my compensation? The arguments I have heard over and over are: ‘They raised me’, ‘they would do it for me’, ‘think of all those birthday presents’, ‘I am only where I am because of them’. To counter, they did not raise me, teachers and friends raised me, they were too busy/ wanted to relax. No they would not do it for me as firstly I wouldn’t ask. No I am where I am because I worked very hard to get the grades, I didn’t party or go out but worked. I payed for all my fees and put my-self through university. To be fair, yes they did send me on school trips and often take me with them on holidays, yes I got lots of birthday and Christmas presents when I was younger.
    I am so very confused as whether I am indeed crazy and evil.
    All views are much appreciated, I can never trust my own opinion and this is a huge decision. Please help me. I feel so guilty.
    This guilt, it comes in waves and can blacken the best moods. Is this normal? I would have previously said that you only feel guilt when you do something wrong, was that just emotional immaturity?
    Everyone here appears so much wiser than I.

  • livesimplecolorado

    Well written and thank you for the insight. This is an ongoing drama in our life. We have grown adult children that live out of state and for the last 20 years we have had nothing but financial drama with them. Every month another crisis surfaces, can’t pay the rent, the car loan is past due, no groceries… fill in the blank. They assume because we have a home, assets and live comfortably in another state that we are “rich” and therefore should always be sending money to them. We are not rich, we live within our means and we stay away from debt. It is hard to explain that to someone who can only look in and see what they want to see, not reality. The last few years we stopped feeling guilty and started to say no. It has been painful and has caused a lot of hurt feelings. My hope is that the “no” will get them to figure out things on their own for once and for all. I also hope that once that happens they will move past feeling entitled and angry that we are not the perpetual bank account.

  • lolita

    I am glad i came across this article i am very frustrated i don’t talk to my dads family and recently i stop talking to my moms family due to financial issues i am 24 and i am sacrificing my self just because i want to save up money to get other things that are very important to me so i cut off the cell phone and mall shopping now is strictly important things if i need i will buy, so my car is in another state i gave it to my 21 year old brother who recently moved to the state i live in where we have a large family all with small financial problems but stable now my moms side wants me to provide for him i have spend over 1k on my brother this month but my family wants more money they are taking away all my savings and they still think i am selfish that i care more about money they want me to pay his cell phone bill or pay his rent (i dont even got a phone of my own, and i am still trying to save for a car in this state i live in and other important things and bills i gotta take care of ) they think i have so much money and just because i have a good job and i make ok money they throw it on my face that i should provide for him but see i feel that is not my responsibility and that i did enough to help him, he isn’t trying hard enough to get a job i know he has a bad record so is hard for him to get a job but his lack of confidence is what ticks me off this situation makes me feel so sad because they make me feel like i must help him ignoring the fact i don’t have money and not understanding my situation.

  • After reading all this I can stand up and say no. I grew up in a single parent home, mom had me at sixteen and dad left mom when I was 1 year old. While growing up with mom I miss out on school quite a lot because of poverty and working two jobs. Mom was not working at the moment. There would be times mom will head out with bf for weeks an I would be the only one home. I was 15 at the moment. Mom would returned with her abusive bf back home where they would argue and fight. I would spent the night out every time he comes over .Well I paid most of the house bills then moved out at the age of 16 when she had my little sister. She would insist that I stayed home so she could go partying with her bf. After moving out I would still give her money to help with my sister because I want her to have a normal life. Am 25 years old and am trying to get a degree in health, I have dropped out of training twice because of financial issues base on taking care of my sister and mother. My mom is in her early forties, not disable and eligible to work. Every time she wants money, she uses my sister as an excuse. I want to stop giving her money, because am the one who’s been left behind.

  • Stacy

    I have always worked and have paid my way thru my life. Why do I have to be disrespected by my family for making my own successes. I do have integrity and leave within my means and don’t spend money foolishly or overspend by purchasing things I cannot afford. I am so over the fact that the ones who need money are the same ones who don’t want to work, smoke marijuana and cigerettes, drink alcohol, party, own a dog, have children, are not married, collect food stamps and sell food stamps for cash to buy their addictions, take all the freebies they can get, will stand in line at 6am to get free medical but cannot get up to
    go to work, blame everyone for their misfortunes, never call
    or visit except if they need a handout, think they are
    entitled and hate the people who will not enable them to
    ride this ride. GET A JOB ! I am tired of guilt trips being placed on me when I am the good guy. Family is overrated.

  • natasha

    Hi, Thank you for the wonderful post, Smith.

    Actually i have also experienced similar thing. The toxic person is my aunty(my father’s sister). Ever since i was small, i called her “mother” and so make her my godmother. When i was small,I felt she was very kind and good even though she was gambling addict. I continue to call her “mother”(we stay different city) while l stay with my parents. When i was 17, she stayed in Singapore with her daughter. Since Singapore is a very good country for education, eventually i pursue my degree education there and stayed with her. I stayed at her house free for 6 months, but i need to serve her friends and her to buy cigarretes, drinks, cook rice, do all households as they always gamble at home (i do not mind) . Slowly, when i start part time work, most expenses like foods, households items need to be shared between me and her daughter. Eventually, i become “officially” her daughter and her walking ATM.Also if i said “no”, she always said repeatedly that i never reply her kindness, if she was not in Singapore, i could not be like who i am now (I have completed my degree and get proper full time job). But the fact that every month i still give her allowance, sometimes when she ask for extra few bucks, i always give her. Now she went back home country (we were different country, my best time in my life). But nw every single thing i do or i never inform her, she will be angry, send long2 text messages to hurt me and make me feel guilty.She always plead that she has not enough $ to eat, need to go doctor because she s sick etc.Even now she is angry with me again and it ruined my mood at work. I know it s my fault because i let her to have impact on my life. My friends all said im stupid, i should cut her off, but it s just that after several years i called her “mom”, i cant change it:(..somemore our family members are all very closed (typical Asian family- something happens in 1 member, within 1 hours everyone already know). I know it s all sound like an excuse but i really do not know what to do. Now she is angry with me again regarding of not inviting her in my graduation. It s not that i do not want to invite her, I will, but i haven’t gotten the confirmation letter. But apparently she is already angry of thinking that i never appreciate her etc. It really gets into my nerve. However compared to last time (I cried several times after seeing her texts.), this time i still feel a bit guilt but i do not really feel sad anymore. Just feel annoyed. So am i in the right track? What should i do? Should i change not to call her mom?But for 20 years???

    Im sorry if my writing is very long. I appreciate your thought and suggestion :) Thank you

  • Nancy

    I am in a tough spot. I am on a fixed income. So is my mother. But every month she calls to “help” me with my bills though I am going to be 4o this month. She does it so she can ask me for money. I don’t know what to do. I love my mom but this can’t go on. She has a boyfriend who she says she can ask for money but she still keeps coming up with reasons why she needs me to send her money. Like this month she said “Well he’s paying for my car this month and I don’t feel I can ask him for any more money so can you send me some”. I don’t mind doing this once in a while but it’s becoming an every month thing. My siblings can’t help her as they have kids and my brother in law just lost his job. And my mom knows this. When my brother stopped giving her money she said “He hates me”. Which my brother said is not true. He is just tired of giving her money when he needs it for his kids. I have no kids, no car and such and she knows this. Help!

  • Brandt Smith

    @Casey – This may sound harsh but your father is a bum. No one that loves you would treat you so poorly. The only thing you can do is to cut ties. Yes, it will make it hard to have relationships with the rest of your family, but he will never get better and never treat you with the respect you deserve.

    @livesimplecolorado – saying “no” may not make them treat you with respect, but once they figure out that you are not their atm they will get the picture and stop asking. It’s just that the first few times will be painful until they have been trained.

    @lolita – you are not responsible for them. You are only responsible for yourself. Just keep saying “no.” Maybe say something like “look, I’m so poor I can’t afford my own cel phone.” After a while (and probably a few arguments) they will get the picture and stop abusing you by treating you like their atm or built in welfare system.

    @Merl – Just say no! I know it sounds harsh to people who come from loving families, but sometimes your parents (or brothers, sisters, etc…) don’t love you and are bums. I know this from personal experience and have had to tell close family members “if you call back I will call the cops.” It is amazing how much easier life is when you don’t have the added stress of supporting and dealing with caustic family members.

    @Stacy – It sounds like you are on the right track and have figured out that you don’t need them in your life just because they are family.

    @natasha – I know that some cultures place a higher value on family, but it doesn’t change the facts. If she is caustic, dump them. If other family members pressure you, tell them “I love you and respect you, but this is between the two of us. I don’t know what she is telling you, but from your reaction it is obvious that it is harsh and one sided. And I love you too much to burden you with my side of things.”

    @Nancy – Just say no. Seriously, say you don’t have enough to pay your own bills and there is nothing left.

  • Brandt Smith

    @everyone – Wow, the response to this article has been overwhelming. And my responses pretty much can be summed up with:
    -Your first responsibility is to yourself, your spouse, and your non-adult children. Everyone else is secondary.
    -It may hurt but if they loved you they wouldn’t treat you so poorly.
    -Their lack of love is not a reflection on you, it is an indication of what teriable people they are!
    -Say no. Keep saying no. If they keep pushing, tell them to go away. Never say yes.
    -If they loved you they would be supportive. Since they are the opposite of supportive it means they don’t love you. And why would you spend your time, money, or attention on people who don’t love you?
    -You shouldn’t ever give people money. Seriously, why would you hate them enough to do this? Life is trying to teach them a lesson. If you bail them out they will never learn, and life will increase the pain factor the next time to make them learn.

  • athene

    just received two separate requests to GIVE ME MONEY, ONE FROM AN IN-LAW WHO GOT A NEW JOB AND QUIT THE FIRST DAY. THE OTHER FROM A SIBLING WHO SPENT TOO MUCH ON A CRUISE TO JAMAICA IN OCTOBER. Cruise? I haven’t had vacation outside of my neighborhood in 3 years! Quitting a job on the first day?

    I quit/ retired March 1 after 44yrs., but am supposed to become an ATM now that I can afford to not work. I have been saving money for retirement, contributed to my 401k faithfully, spent wisely, pd. off my mortgage early, student loans also, have no debts and am saving some money each month since March. I am not at full retirement age, so NO SOCIAL SECURITY for another 5 years (66), so most everyone assumes I have lots of money to give. Been down this road before and the MOST IMPORTANT PERSON who needs and is ENTITLED to the fruits of my labor is ME. I am getting older, will become less healthy/mobile and will need care at some point. One can’t expect the above mentioned people to help.

    These individuals are both angry with my NO reply and then wanted to debate financial circumstances. I have never MY assets with any family member, live simply [no cellphones, tv, car,trendy clothes or cruises [yet]. ;]

    My relatives NEVER phone [son included], so I knew money was REQUIRED when I got the calls. Guilt, emotions and manipulation just leave me uninterested , I feel as if I’ve heard everything. One relative bother to call, she an email on a Wednesday asking for $4800 by Friday or she’d be evicted. I went on my out of my last neighborhood vacation for a 10 day retreat in San Diego, I sent NO MONEY.

    I am now being wisely selfish. I didn’t work all those years or struggle at times to become someones ATM.

  • Unwilling Provider

    The easy answer is NO. I have a brother-in-law who has never seen a bottle he doesn’t want to empty. The family collectively offered him an intervention which he seemed to think he had some ‘right’ to refuse. Rather than that, he has had two alcohol-related felonies which make him nearly unemployable, and a continuing burden to his family. When he is in a ‘rut’, he comes to family for ‘help.’ I’m tired of it. The rest of the family are doormats and just continue supporting. I am 71, past retirement, and still working. Not working to support the likes of him. So my answer is NO.

  • Daughter-in-pain

    I am also a victim here, but I won’t complain because it will never be resolved. I know now it is not my fault. I want to give my mom and family their needs but I can’t because my earnings are barely enough.

    It is hard to have parents who can’t be strong. Parents who doesn’t have the skills to provide for their own or provide you. And it’s harder if they have become abusive because of what they think their needs are.

    The best way we can be is be the best we can be and earn as long as our bodies permit and save because we are going to be old too someday. And don’t become like them when your children become better than you.

    It is our lot in life to work for life if we are not given rich parents.

  • I have this problem with my adult son. He is married with 2 children and 2 stepchildren (one autistic) and they are always overdrawn or out of money or behind on their payments. My husband and I have bailed them out numerous times over the past 5 years since they married. When my son calls and asks for some money to buy groceries or to get through the week, I have caved in. My husband finally put a stop to it. But when he calls me, I can’t say no. I feel so bad for him and his situation/obligations. It has caused problems between my husband and me. Why do I continue to say yes? What is wrong with me???! He’ll call and ask if we would be able to help pay for my grandson’s kindergarten expenses (school supplies, paper towels, etc. all that kind of stuff that schools ask for now at the beginning of school) and I know if he had the money he wouldn’t be asking. I want my 5 year old grandson to start off kindergarten without problems so I want to pay. So how do I say no?

    This time I scolded him and said we get very upset when they can’t take care of our grandchildren and we get upset that they always have the same money problems. Now I am estranged from my son and he feels we always make a blow up over money. The only response I got was that I didn’t have to send the money.

    Help! How do I fix this?

  • Brandt Smith

    @Sandy – Just say no. Seriously, until you say no and keep firm it won’t get better. If your son loves you he will stop asking. And if he won’t let up or tries to punish you for doing the wrong thing, to me that means that his love is conditional on you paying his way…and that isn’t love!

    @Daughter-In-Pain – Good for you. I would like to add a clarification to your comment, it doesn’t matter if your parents are rich or poor. In fact, your success and happiness shouldn’t depend on anyone but yourself.

    @Unwilling Provider – good for you. Stay strong! You only hurt him if you become a doormat.

    @athene – that isn’t selfish, it is loving and smart. You only hurt them if you bail them out. God (and life) is trying to teach them life lessons. They can’t move on to the next level until they learn and grow and they can’t learn and grow if you do it for them and bail them out.

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