Ask Kari: How Can We Stop the Parental “Money Train”?

Dear Kari,

My daughter is married to a man who will not get a job. They have three children, she works full-time but for the past three years he has made no effort to find a job or keep one if and when he does get hired. During this time period, we have gotten a call at the end of each month asking us for money. At first, my husband and I offered our full support, but now we resent that we work and then pass on some of our income to them. What do you recommend we do to stop this situation?

--Money Train

Dear Money Train,

You did not mention that your son in law had any physical or mental challenges that were preventing him from working, so I will assume that he is healthy and can work on a regular basis. It appears that both he and your daughter have become used to your support and therefore find no need to maintain their lifestyle on their own. I would invite them over for a meeting, and then check in on their current efforts to support themselves and their children. During the meeting, give them a deadline of when you will no longer be supporting them (one month is more than fair for two grown adults to put together a plan). After the meeting, continue to maintain that you wish them well (i.e. good fortune in life), but nothing more. Two self-sustaining adults will find their way when pushed to the limit; you don’t have to be the ones who carry them there.


As published in the January 2014 issue of Connections.

About Kari:

Kari O’Neill, MSW, LICSW, is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and the owner and Clinical Director of Issaquah Highlands Counseling Group (IHCG), which is now Kari O’Neill Counseling.

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