Am I being selfish?


My dh and I have been arguing a lot over his mother. His mother married a man who was over 20 years younger than her and then he divorced her this past year. When he did, he left her with the little girl, her natural granddaughter, that they adopted to care by herself. He has adandoned the little care but cares for her financially. He pays the child support. This little child is physically and mentally challenge. She is a hand full and is 8 years old with a capacity of a 4 year old. Anyway, my MIL was told to down size when she divorced and was going on one income. She did not want to do that and stayed in the house with the pool. She just refinanced it. Her ex adviced her to move into an apartment and she took it as an insult.

Anyway, after the divorce, she had some money. She borrowed from friends. She borrowed large amounts. She borrowed in the thousands from two friends and her sister. She took the money and I don’t know what she did with it. I think it went to pay for her lawyers’ fee. She told her friends that once she got her income tax she would pay them back. She received over $8000.00 in income tax and had enough to pay all three of the people she owed. She paid her sister, but did not pay the other two. She told me she couldn’t for she needed the money to live off of and eat. But what I saw was that she was renovating the interior of the house and the exterior of the house. She bought so many things. She bought her daughter many expensive toys. Toys that I would not buy my daughter and we earn more than she does. They are just too expensive. Anyway, she used up all the money and now she is retired with only Social Security and works less than part time hours when they can use her as a paramedic. She complains to her son, my dh, of not having money for gas, for food and etc. My dh just put gas in her truck. He gave her a $100.00 grocery card. We paid $250.00 toward her attorney for she thinks she can get more money off her ex and needed it to go back to court. I know there will be more attorney’s fee. She is now complaining that her pool pump is not working and it will cost $80.00. She told us that she wanted to go to the movies on our daughter’s birthday, yesterday, to celebrate it which we found odd since she claims to have no money, but we said she must have money if she wants to do this, so we said we would meet her. I went to eat with my daughter and my niece and my dh went to meet his mother and she had the nerve to tell him that he would have to pay her ticket and her daughters to see the movie for she had money. I was upset. I’m I overreating. I think she is taking advantage of us. She is going through our savings. We paid for locks to be changed in her house when she got divorce for she had no money and that was $280.00. This month we were short on paying one of our bills and had to go into our savings. I think it is just wrong. My dh and I are arguing. Then she also has us taking care of her daughter. When she has to work, she wants us to pick her up and bring her back to her house which is one hour away. So my husband is always gassing up his car. My dh and I are both physically disabled and it is very difficult for us to care for this little girl. She has rammed into me many times and aggravated my back so bad. I have chronic back problems and rods in my back. She has been told not to do this, but she is mentally challenged.

My dh said he will talk to his mother about asking for money all the time, but I don’t know when. Am I being selfish or should we continue to support this woman because she is his mother?


I would cut her off.

Dont get me wrong, I am all for helping those in need, espically family and even if you know your not gonna get it back because its the right thing to do.

But she is bring irresponsible in not moving to more finacialy sensibly living arrangments and is being morally irresponsible in putting her own desires before the well being of her child. (This is what I get from your story, true i dont have her side but nothing I can do about that and I doubt you have any reason to give a slanted story)

Its unfortunate that you are even being put in this situation where you cant help family because of thier own responsibility, but if you keep supporting her irresponsiblity she will persist in it. In addition you have your own family to think of and dont need to be hurting your own family in giving beyond your means.

I hate situations like this, because you want to give and be helpful to people, but by doing so you are doing more damage in the end.


You and dh need to set a plan about how much money and help you will give to relatives then you have to stick to it.

We have a plan because we both come from very disfunctional families. We don't lend money to siblings or parents.

Here goes:

We will take a relative in until they get back on their feet in cases of illness or tragedy ie if their house burns down.

We will not take a relative in when they lose their resources from a cohabitation breakup, gambling, alchohol abuse or drug abuse. The children are welcome but the parents must go to rehab or boarding homes.

We will not pay their debts, ie credit cards, gambling debts.etc. Generally we do not lend money. We do purchase groceries and clothes especially for the children.

They are always welcome to our house for a meal.

Our elderly parents will be cared for in our home if we are able otherwise we will visit their nursing homes daily if they agree to a NH within a reasonable distance from our home.

This advice is only for disfunctional families and it sounds like your MIL fits the bill. Responsible families probably don't need to be this ridgid.

In my own life my parents bought a mansion (a fixer upper) then they got divorced. My dad took off with another woman. When mom couldn't afford the upkeep she refused to sell it (I can't sell my home she said)and if you ever saw the movie "Grey Gardens" you would know how we lived. No heat, no water at times, mice all over and roaches. The roof leaked, the floors rotted and I could go on... but that's how crazy it can get. All she had to do was move down and we would have been OK.

Don't let yourself and DH fall into a trap. Tell MIL she HAS to move down.


If she can't manage her finances, offer to help her by sitting with her, assessing her income and ALL her expenses. If you decide to loan her money, do it by directly paying bills, do not give her cash. Tell her you will not give her money unless she sits down and lets you assess and pay her bills, and take over her checkbook. If she is unwilling, than don't give her any more.

Also, tell her she has to take responsibility, and if it means downsizing to a smaller house -- it's better than having her current house foreclosed on and being homeless.

She is being immature and selfish.


Thank you all for your wonderful advice. That is how I feel. My dh feels that he needs to help his mother and I understand that, but I feel that she is not helping herself and that is what upsets me. The day we went to the movies, she stopped in at Macy's store first. My dh met her there. She was looking at sunglasses, very expensive sunglasses. He told her that she did not need them nor can she afford them. She said she had her Macy's credit card and he reminded her that she had to pay that and how she had another department store credit department calling her because she is so behind in paying it. She is almost like a child and keeps spending. Well the night I wrote to you all here on the thread, my dh was babysiting his niece at his mom's house. She got home from work and told him that she was going to cancel working the next day for she did not have money to gas up her car to get to work. My husband took her truck and filled it up with gas. This is not the first time she has been without gas. I see that this is going to continue if she can't work her part time hours for her daughter is soon going to be hospitalized for leg surgery and that is one week in the hospital. She will not get a paycheck that week. She lives paycheck to paycheck and if she doesn't get them, she doesn't haven't enough money. She told me that in this next paycheck she will use some of the money to fix her pool pump. I told her that I disagreed and that more important is food and gas money. She said she had to fix it for her daughter's pool party on the 11 of July. She can't afford that party either. I don't understand her at all. My dh has talked to her and her own sister has too. It is almost as she is living in a fantasy world and not in the real world. That is why it makes me angry to lend her money.

My dh did tell me he talked to her that night he baby sat and told her that we can't help her anymore financially for we are hurting also. We hope she respects our decision, but she is very manipulative.

Thanks for letting me know I was not being selfish.


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