Dear Annie: I am a divorced, 53-year-old female living in Las Vegas, and I have a divorced sister who lives in South Carolina. I am retired and work part time. My sister also is retired, but shortly after she moved to South Carolina, she was unable to walk or stand for any length of time. Doctors said a broken back from an accident years ago was beginning to cause new problems.
I want to move to South Carolina to help my sister. I'm sure I would love it there. However, my 70-something parents, who live near me, are not happy about this. My father told me I have to stay here to help them when they get older. I suggested to my father that they move down there with us, but they aren't interested.
Right now, my parents are perfectly healthy. I would like to live where I want and enjoy the rest of my life. But I'm the only one who can take care of my parents when the time comes. Am I selfish to move? — Nevada Daughter
Dear Daughter: One would think your parents would be grateful that you are willing to take care of their other child, who obviously needs help. By all means, move to South Carolina if you want, and if your parents insist on living apart from their children, that is their choice. Reassure them that should they someday require your personal care, you can always consider moving back.
Dear Annie: This is in response to "Paducah, Ky.," who wanted her children to stop begging for money, so she asked them for a $100 loan to see how they liked it. You wondered if any parents had tried this "other shoe" approach.
Our children know that if they need to borrow, we will loan them the money at no interest. They also are aware that if they need a second loan while the first one is not paid in full, they will not get a dime, regardless of need. This unbending rule has brought a few tears to our children, but we never worry about resenting them, and we are still on good terms. — Salem, Ore.
Dear Salem: A reasonable approach. Read on for more:
From Modesto, Calif.: I recommend what I call Gopher Hole Economics: Each month, place into an envelope the amount of money you can afford to give without expectation of repayment (the amount you could shove down a gopher hole). If asked for a loan, check the envelope. If there is money, you give it to the borrower and write down the name, date and amount. If there is no money, say that the bank is busted until previous debts are repaid or there are additional spare funds.
Connecticut: We have three daughters, one of whom can't make monthly expenses even after making a down payment on a house with our help. Here is the plan: She must make up a budget and list every expenditure. If she can't make expenses, the house will be sold, and she can rent. This bank is closed.
Detroit: My mom let us repay her in the form of time — cleaning her house or accompanying her to doctor appointments, etc., was subtracted from the bill at $10 per hour. We also were given credit for picking up groceries or fueling her car. On the other hand, we were charged for unplanned baby-sitting or items we asked her to pick up for us. At the time of her death, we still owed her $500, which we settled by paying for her funeral. I now do the same thing with my own daughter.
Gulfport, Miss.: After Hurricane Katrina, when I wondered how I was going to get gas for my car, my 14-year-old son came up to me with the $40 he had earned baby-sitting and said, "Here, Mom, you need this more than I do." A question for the parents of adult children who ask for money — when they were children, did you just hand them cash, or did you make them earn it? (P.S.: I love you, Son.)
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2005. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.