Dear Annie: I had my high school graduation party at a local restaurant (because our house is too small). My father claimed he was unable to pay for it, and insisted I cover the bill, close to $1,100, saying he will pay me back later.
I realize that my parents' business sometimes goes through hard times, but Dad still manages to eat out frequently. He's terrible with money, and I am not sure he will ever pay me back. I told him that I expect complete repayment by the middle of August and if I don't get it, I'll start selling his vast collection of unused musical instruments. He doesn't believe me.
I am paying for my first year of college through grants, scholarships, my savings and the money I earn from my job. I never expected anything from my parents because I know they can't afford much. But I had no idea I was going to get stuck with the bill for the party. What do I do? — Farmer's Daughter
Dear Daughter: Let's not turn this into a major conflagration. Dad should not have stuck you with a bill for a party neither of you could afford. But selling his musical instruments isn't the answer, either. Try to remain calm and work out a payment plan with Dad, in writing, with the amount he needs to pay each week until an agreed-upon total is reached. It may take longer than mid-August, and you might also consider paying for part of the bill because the party was for you. But it's better than the all-out war you are contemplating. We also suggest you involve your mother in this transaction since she, too, has a say in the family finances and may bring a more level head to the discussion.
Dear Annie: My husband's parents live several states away. They are both in poor health, one worse than the other. I fear that when one passes away, my husband will want us to move and take care of the other one.
We have two young children and this would involve us leaving our jobs. When we visit, I am miserable the entire time and have no desire to move. We could not ask the remaining parent to move, either, because they both have jobs, as well.
Our marriage is struggling right now, so living in separate states would not help us repair our problems. And then there's the fact that I would want my husband to do this for my parents. So how can I deny him this? — Unhappy Wife
Dear Unhappy: In all fairness, you cannot. Taking care of one set of parents means a willingness to take care of both. But it doesn't necessarily mean moving across the country. If the parents are near retirement age, it makes just as much sense for them to relocate where your jobs are, instead of vice versa, and where family is already established to help in their care.
You and your husband should have this conversation now and talk about realistic alternatives, including retirement or assisted living communities nearby, and the type of medical facilities and senior assistance in the area. If the two of you cannot reach agreement, we recommend asking an unbiased, third party to act as a mediator.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2015. 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.