DEAR ABBY: My 34-year-old daughter, "Martha," is a single mom. I adore my granddaughter. Martha needs me to give her $500 a month, plus cover emergencies (new tires, hospital bills for baby, etc.) in order to get by. She has said repeatedly that she wants to have another baby before she's 35.
Abby, it's a financial burden to help her as much as we have. My husband (her stepdad) believes, along with me, that we should help until her finances improve. Martha is awash in student debt and has a low-paying job. She lives 12 hours away, so we have to fly out to see them, which means we don't see them often.
My question: How can I tell her that having a second baby when she can't support the first is something I can't handle financially? I am becoming resentful. Our retirement has been dismal because all our money is going to her.
My daughter has a hair-trigger temper and would use access to my granddaughter as leverage to keep the money coming. I'm appalled that she's in this position and upset that I have to pay for her choices.
- Appalled in Ohio
DEAR APPALLED: You don't have to pay for your daughter's choices. Tell Martha that, as an adult, it is her responsibility - not yours - to provide for herself and her child and that if she becomes pregnant before her finances improve to the point that she's self-supporting, not to expect one more penny from you.
Please consider starting to reduce the amount you give her and set a deadline. Martha may need to find a second job, but that's better than your spending all your retirement money shouldering her responsibilities.
Expect her to be angry. If she threatens to blackmail you with access to your grandchild, tell her that the person she'll be punishing is the little one, not you, and stick to your guns.
Tractors pull at her sense of fairnessDEAR ABBY: My husband has purchased different pieces of equipment over the years. He recently bought a small tractor that he's very proud of and enjoys using around our property. He also has purchased a large trailer that he often uses to haul his equipment and other things.
His problem is friends who seem to think they can help themselves to his stuff. They actually have the audacity to say, "I may borrow your tractor, trailer, etc., tomorrow." I find this to be rude in that they are not asking - they are telling him they will.
I told him to say he doesn't loan his equipment out, but he can't seem to be able to say that. Do you have a good comeback that he could use without offending his friends?
- Frazzled Wife
DEAR FRAZZLED: You, not your husband, appear to be the person with the problem. Nowhere in your letter did you mention that he thinks he has one. If he resents what these friends are doing, a solution might be for him to tell them to talk to you about borrowing the equipment, so you can refuse for him.