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I live several states away from my mother and I'm limited in what I can do for her as. My father passed away about a year ago and my mom is still grieving and coming to terms with her new situation. She lives in a very nice gated community in a beautiful house filled with beautiful things. Her health is good, though she suffers from depression and panic attacks. My problem is that she is a reckless spender and I believe she has a serious spending addiction. To make matters worse my brother, who also lives in the same state, is an alcoholic who hasn't worked in over ten years. My mother supports him while he spends all his disability money on alcohol and partying. My other brother, who was working up until my father passed away, quit his job about a year ago, got divorced, and is now unemployed and wants to remain unemployed, hoping against hope that he will also get disability. My mother has helped him financially as well and buys him clothes, furniture, car insurance, etc. Now, she is coming to me asking me to help her financially to pay her property taxes and homeowners dues. My husband, and therapist, feel very strongly that helping her financially would open the door to endless requests for money and would also serve as an enabler for her to continue her bad behavior and supporting two brothers who are old enough to be grandparents. She will not move, stop helping my brother(s), use any of the services available to her in the community, won't come to visit, won't rent out a room, won't change or take action on anything, though she tirelessly and endlessly asks for advice. Talking to her has become an exercise in futility with teeth-grinding repetitious themes (I'm lonely, I have no money, your brothers...). I am the only one in my immediate family that went to college and has a good paying job. I've worked very hard in my career, not to mention that I have a husband and two children to take care of. My daughter will be entering college next fall (no small financial commitment). I feel like a very bad daughter and person but I don't think it's the right thing to do. My brothers have profited quite nicely from my parents over the years. In particular, my alcoholic brother. Shouldn't she exhaust her assets and/or sell her house and tell my brothers to find their own way before asking ME for money? My brothers are 50 and 44 respectively! I refuse to enable my brothers to continue their lifestyle. I'm truly at my wits end and have now been put in a very awkward position of saying "no". I have talked myself blue in the face for 15+ years on advising her to no avail. She does what she wants. This feels beyond terrible.

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You have no reason to feel guilty. If you give her money, you’re enabling her enabling. It sounds like there’s a lot of co-dependency going on in your family. Since you’re the only person in your family that is capable of acting responsibly, you’re going to have to be the one to put their foot down.

My advice, make an appointment for you and your mother with her family lawyer and have her explain the situation she’s in, with complete transparency. You’ll be there as her reality check.

I did this with my mother after she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure; between the three of us we were able to straighten out her financial situation to a somewhat manageable level. It’s never going to be easy, and it may interfere with your day-to-day life, but it sounds like you can handle it.

I wish you all the best.
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I agree. Save yourself !!! What good will it do if you go down with them?
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You are a good daughter of a terribly narcissistic mother! She may also have early signs of dementia, you can assist getting her a diagnosis, but don't give her any money!
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Parents have a way of pulling all the strings and pushing all of the buttons. You need to listen to your therapist and learn how to not let them do this to you. They are wrong. You are not. Simple. But learning to disengage with dysfunctional families is not so simple. Keep working on it and don't give in to your mother's selfish demands.
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I, too, have a sibling who won't work and who seems in danger of becoming homeless. Yet he keeps finding someone to support him (usually a girl-friend). Most of us kids in the family have agreed we cannot support him. While it is very stressful to think a relative is going to hit rock bottom, sometimes they need to do that to be able to see the reality of their situation. If your mother can no longer subsidize your brothers, they will find another way or else change their ways. They need to live the life they are building.

It can be very hard to let go of guilt but you can let go of it. It will help you to do so. Guilt is painful but you don't have to give in to it. You aren't committing a crime, which is the real purpose of guilt. You are prioritizing your own family over your extended family. And your extended family - mother and brothers - are grown adults who can take care of themselves. Your own family - your children - are not adults yet who can take care of themselves. You also have responsibilities and duties to your spouse that supersede those to your mother.

If your mother can afford luxury now, she is a long way from being needy. She's experiencing discomfort, not true need and pain. The same with your brothers.

If they cannot speak kindly to you and are only demanding, then don't talk to them. You don't have to answer the phone. Manage the interaction you have with them. That can help minimize your guilt feelings.
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Thank you everyone for your kind words of support!

I have been through all the rationale in my head a million times but the sense of guilt for not giving her money, and for not condoning her choices, come with a deep sense of guilt.

My mom went so far as accusing me (recently) that I don't love her, that I loved my dad more than her, and that I identified with him more. Both false accusations. I thought that tactic was below the belt and designed to upset me, which it did. She let's me know all the time that I'm not the kind of daughter she's know from her European upbringing in which the daughter takes care of the parents. I resent this statement to no end. My brothers can continue their sorry lives but I have to give up mine to take care of her?

I know my mom is lonely and struggling with the loss of my dad but this has not stopped her from spending wildly. A habit she's had for many years. My dad passed away after about 1 1/2 years after being diagnosed with Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. My mom could not take care of him and so we put him in a group home. She had a lot of guilt over not being able to take care of him. In any case, his care was fairly expensive but this didn't stop her from continuing to pay my brother's mortgage, food, electricity, clothes, homeowner's dues, car repairs, and anything else to keep him afloat. It also didn't stop her from buying very expensive jewelry, clothes, and home décor items. Now, she is feeling desperate because the spending is unsustainable. This is not the first time she's gotten into this predicament. The difference is my dad isn't around anymore to shoulder the burden, mortgage the house, and continue to work.

I love my mother, I lover her very much, but I can't reconcile her continued poor choices with asking me for money for property taxes and Homeowners Association dues. She not only wanted me to pay this year but for the rest of her life. Yes, for the rest of the years she lives in her gated community.

Everyone, and I mean everyone, that has heard my mother's story has flat out told her to STOP helping my alcoholic brother and to take care of herself. Nothing every changes! My brother has been drinking for 25 years. My parents have been financially helping him for about 10 years now. It started with paying his mortgage and has progressed to ALL of his living expenses. He gets disability money but spends it all on himself and his addiction. My mom says she just can't let him end up on the street.

I wish there was a solution to this problem. It clouds my days. Everyday I have a cloud over my head wondering how on earth we ended up on this situation. It's not my problem, but it is. It's confusing. Aren't we supposed to help our parents? My husband says, we will help her, when she's made some different choices, such as moving, selling her assets and telling my brothers to figure it out. I'm worried, what's going to happen when my mom isn't around to enable my brother? Do the three of them think I'm going to support them?

I am so happy to have found this forum. I feel like I'm the only one facing these issues.

Thank you so much!!!!!!
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There are obviously addiction problems here. Your Mom is addicted to shopping and brother is addicted to alcohol.

I have a question. How did your father pay the homeowners fees for a gated community, taxes, and homeowners insurance? Did he leave you mother completely broke? Whatever the situation, she needs guidance as to how to stay in her home. Do not pay for any of these things.

You need to have a meeting with your mother and have transparency about her finances and spending habits. Don't let her drag you down the same path she is taking. You should listen to your husband and therapist. And I wouldn't let people who have been totally irresponsible make you feel bad for one second.
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I'd say the best course of action is to tell her the truth and how you feel about things. If she can not see it then you have done your part and tell her that you are there for her but you will not enable her poor lack of judgement. I guess she likes feeling "needed." Perhaps it gives her some sense of control in her loss, but when you tell her she is not doing anyone any favors maybe she will get it. Believe me, her sons will find their way when the spigot is turned off and she too will find her way. I understand her loss, I have lost a lot too, but there comes a time when we must hang up our black veil and move with life, as in get busy living or get busy dying, the choice is her, you have a choice and you need to exercise it, your brothers are going the easier softer route, but that road goes on so far before construction hits.
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You are a very good daughter. A bad daughter becomes an enabler. Just say NO, hubby and I have talked it over and feel you need to find a way to meet you financial obligations. That is not passing the buck it is hubby's money too. Do you go out and buy a new house car etc without his input? This is the same situation. Suggest something she could sell, such as a second car valuable painting oriental rug ,anything and leave it at that No discussion. It's hard especially because she is recently widowed but many women have to adjust and she is starting from a good platform. if you help financially you will be enabling not only your mother but your idle brothers too. Are you prepared to say to your daughter 'Sorry honey you will have to get a fulltime job when you go to school because I am buying alcohol for your uncle" face the raw truth and don't do it. If mom has to move out of her luxury digs so be it she has done this to herself. don't worry she has probably got money stashed somewhere none of you know about, she just feels she can guilt some out of you
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The only bad people in this situation as you describe it are your two brothers, taking advantage of your mother. You have not done anything bad at all. I would just tell your mother the truth, given the fact that you have a child going to college, you have no available funds to give her. Since your mom is not in a frame of mind yet to do anything to change the situation, there is really not a lot of help you can give her. Be there for her if/when she decides to make a change for the better.
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I agree with jeannegibbs - help her find experts to talk to, and resources to help her make decisions. This will empower her since having information helps us make better choices.
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Frankly, with the addictions that you've mentioned, you've already paid a high price for being a part of the family. An addict mother and brother must be absolutely crazy making.

Your children and husband must be your priorities. Saving for your own old age is another. From what you've written, without changes, her need for support will be endless. If she can't pay property taxes now, how will she pay for them next time?
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You are not a bad daughter.

You are lucky to have a husband and therapist with your best interests in mind. Listen to them!

In my opinion, you would be a "bad daughter" if you enabled your mother's continued bad decisions and self-harming behaviors. (Not a bad person, but not doing very well in the role of daughter.) I think that you can see that your mother is not doing your brothers any favors by enabling them, when she should be encouraging them to resolve their problems in ways they can maintain indefinitely (and not just until she runs out of money). Please don't follow her bad example!

Mourning the death of a spouse is a very lonely, confusing, and challenging time. Be kind to your mother. Try to be patient with her endless phone calls. Those things are good for her. Don't give her money. That would not be good for her in the long run, and it would be very painful for you.

If you give Mom money for the property tax, who is going to pay it next year? You could offer to help her with a budget, or to find a financial counselor who could help her figure out if she can afford to continue to live in the lovely gated community. Encourage her to find long-term solutions. Paying her taxes would be like giving her a bandaid when she is hemorrhaging. She would certainly be back for more and more bandaids and in the long run that wouldn't save her.

She may not be ready just yet, but sometime very soon she is going to have to figure out how much spending she can do without putting her necessities at risk. It is a rude awakening many widows have to face. Please don't help her put it off.

(My husband died 11 months ago. I am just now able to face the new financial facts of my life. I can really sympathize with your mother, but she, like I, has to adjust to her new situation.)
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You are not a bad daughter. You need to protect yourself and your husband and children. There are three adults who can find solutions to their issues and meet their needs if they make other choices. You do not need to finance their poor decisions and their not wanting to work (the brothers).

It is very hard to be the responsible one when family members do not take care of themselves and then ask others to provide for them. But giving them money and whatever else they ask for doesn't help them. They only continue the way of life they've established. They won't change if they think you will help them out.

And, you have your own future to prepare for. Do not throw that away because they did not plan ahead.
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You are not a bad daughter. Your first responsibility is to your husband and children. Saying NO to your Mother is difficult but saying Yes would be totally wrong in many ways. You would be enabling three people who have made poor choices in their lives. Nothing you do will change their lifestyle. None of this is your fault or your responsibility.

You should be very proud of the life you and your husband have created for your family and not do anything that might jeopardize what you have worked so hard to accomplish.

Being the adult in a situation and making the right decision sometimes feels bad but you sleep better at night. I would use caller id and let those calls go to voicemail.
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