Dear Annie: Our 46-year-old son is bright, caring and an all-around good guy. Here's the problem: "Munro" has never gotten much of an education, even though he's had multiple chances and we have encouraged him to do so. If we say anything about it, he gets nasty and rude and tells us it's none of our business.
He is absolutely right -- until he and his family hit us up for money. Munro has a wife and three children. The oldest, age 20, still lives at home and does not work or contribute to the household. Our daughter-in-law refuses to work more than part-time, and then only temporarily. The entire household lives hand-to-mouth. We have loaned them a lot of money over the years, not to mention the many "extras" we've done for the kids. We made a decision to close the bank, at least until his wife and adult son contribute more to the household.
The problem now is that Munro was in a serious, life-altering accident and is lucky to be alive. He won't be able to work for some time. Of course, they can't pay their bills. I spoke to my husband about helping again because of these extenuating circumstances, but he replied that now is a good time for his wife and son to step up and get jobs.
What do you think we should do? We are financially secure, but not rich. -- Worried Mom in California
Dear Worried: This is a tough situation. You have been too generous already, but with Munro out of work for an indefinite period, his family will likely sink further down before it occurs to them to step up and contribute. They have been enabled for so long that they don't know how to adjust their expectations. They will accuse you of abandoning them in their time of need.
Please sit down with Munro, his wife and their grown son. Explain that the gravy train has stopped running. Offer to help your daughter-in-law and grandson look through the want ads in the newspaper and online to find full-time jobs that will make up for Munro's missing salary. And if you are feeling generous, pay for them to get some financial and budget planning advice from a professional. Check with your bank or the National Foundation for Credit Counseling at nfcc.org. As the saying goes, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Show him how to catch a fish and you feed him for a lifetime."
Dear Annie: In a letter from "Pennsylvania," there was a reference to rude drivers turning on their high beams and leaving them on. In your response, you suggested flashing the high beams once or twice to let someone know their headlights are off or that their high beams are off.
You might want to tell your readers in Indiana not to do that. I found out the hard way when a police officer saw me click my high beams. He was nice and just gave me a warning, but it could have been a ticket. -- Smarter in Indiana
Dear Indiana: Several readers wrote to tell us it is also illegal in California and other states, and suggested turning one's headlights on and off quickly for the same purpose. Our thanks to all who let us know.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailboxcreators.com, or write to Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. You can also find Annie on Facebook at Facebook.com/AskAnnies.
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