Moral dilemma concerning my parents


Hi, I’m writing because I’ve finally hit a moral wall with my parents and really don’t know what the right thing to do is. Keeping this as brief as possible, my father has (over the past 10 years) gone from being a pastor in the Presbyterian church to being a cable salesman that makes his sales by using the “past-due-payment” roll sheet and calling these customers to tell them how they can get around the system to be reconnected. I’m just trying to paint of picture of the extreme change I’ve seen in him. Yes, he needs help. Yes, he knows there’s a problem as he had a “break-down” about 5 years ago and went to see a slew of psychotherapists and any other kind of dr. who would listen to him. Ultimately, he decided that the answer to his problem (whatever that is) was to just shut down and do as little as possible in every area of his life. This means that he has become a total dependant of my mothers, who had to quit her teaching job of 32 years to get a higher paying position to support my father. (Yes, her choice . . . I know.) And has all but alienated himself from most of his family including me. He was so caught up in his own world that he completely aliented my now husband during our courtship after my husband tried so hard to win him over. He even spent 2 months refinishing my parents wood floors in his attempt to no avail. Because my father works so randomly, he cannot keep up with his end of the bills which happens to be the mortgage. (Yes, I know . . . my parents decision). He has fallen behind several times and had to borrow money from others. (This I just found out.) More recently, his sister was diagnosed with and subsequently passed away from colon cancer a year ago. During her fight, he continued to hold a grudge against her for some “he-said, she-said” incident even after she reached out to him to talk. He only visited her 1 week before she passed away. Meanwhile, during his “break-down”, she took several weeks off of work to come be with him. Most recently (bringing us up to date), my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. 3 days after finding this out, my dad (who by the way, has attempted to maintain zero relationship with me or my husband) calls me to ask to borrow $3,000 because he is several months behind on the mortgage and asked me not to say anything to my mother, because he only wants her to be concerned with getting better. Now, I’ve had several conversations with my parents over the years about financial planning, about my dad needing to get a full-time position, about my mom looking the other way knowing he is unreliable. What should I do here? If I help him, I will resent him for putting me in this position. Ultimately, he will only be in this position again in a short time, if I’m guessing correctly. Everytime I call the house, he is there. How is he making any money if he isn’t working? If I don’t help, I will surely feel guilty for what it could do to my mom in the future. Please help!


Your mother has stage 4 colon cancer and is seriously ill…Your father, sadly, has chosen his way of life. I would take care of my mother(even bring her to live with you, if need be)…What do the doctors say is her prognosis?..I’m not saying completely abandon your dad, but your mom really needs you now…Maybe your dad will come around, don’t give him anymore money, it doesn’t sound like he’s even trying to have a normal life…My prayers will be with your mom:signofcross:


Tell your mom, tell her to get his butt in gear, and let him borrow the money (make sure he promises to return it legally and soundly).

And learn a lesson from this situation: Don’t keep secrets from your spouse, or vica-versa.


Your dad sounds like he is perhaps mentally ill, therefore you can’t expect him to operate as though he is not mentally ill. That means, he is not going to be able to hold a good job or even any job at all. That means you can not loan him any money you can not afford to lose.

If your mom is unable to work due to her illness, even if she has disability insurance, that probably won’t be enough to pay the bills. You need to step in an take hold of the financial situation before it deteriorates even further. That means talking to their mortgage lender about what can be done so that they don’t lose the house. You need to look into whether they qualify for any kind of public assistance. As difficult as it may be to do this, this situation is what public assistance is meant for.

What you really need to do is consult with a good lawyer who can guide you through this situation. And do you have any family members who can be by your side through all this? (siblings, aunts, uncles, close family friends, etc.) And of course, pray, pray, pray. God’s blessings to you.


My step-father had a series of mini-strokes over the course of 2 years that so impaired him emotionally that he became a different man. It sounds crazy but those brief periods of lack of oxygen to his brain altered his personality to the point that he became abusive and just plain weird. It was a complete 180 from the man I had known most of my life and my mother had married and after a couple years of his refusal to get help my mother left him because the situation was seriously unhealthy for my sister and me (we were teens at the time). He was eventually properly diagnosed but his personality never did truly recover to what it had been prior.

I think you may gently suggest to your mother and father that he needs to be thoroughly physically and mentally evaluated. Most people do not make such a profound personality shift without some underlying cause. And your mother is enabling him, it probably happened in a way in which she doesn’t even realize how bad the situation has gotten. She really needs to focus on her health right now and not have to take care of him too.

Lots of prayers for your family. This doesn’t sound like it is going to be an easy situation. If I were you I would focus on helping and taking care of your mother first and not bailing your dad out as she always has. Maybe a lack of resources will the the thing that prompts him to get evaluated.


Do you have the money to spare? I think while your dad’s behavior is terrible, your mom is very sick and the mortgage payment is on the house your mom lives in. They may have chosen to divide their bills so that mortgage is your father’s side, but it’s just an arbitrary division.

If your dad can’t make the payments, and the bank starts sending letters it will stress out your mom and hurt her health.

Don’t ask yourself if you should loan money to your father, ask yourself if you should help your mother pay the mortgage while she is struggling with cancer.

Unfortunately at this point I don’t think it’s possible to change your father. As you said he saw a bunch of professionals, and at his age you just can’t change people.


I want to thank you all for your responses. I wasn’t sure if I was going to get real advice or end up with a bunch of crazy stuff. :slight_smile: Thank you for that. My financial situation is quite different than that of the majority of my family. However, I can’t take credit for that. My husband is very successful and works very, very hard to be just that. So, it’s not really my money. Besides, we would even need to work to build up our savings again at this point since we literally just paid off our 2nd mortgage days before my dad came to me with this. I agree the my priority here is my mother and her health. I am doing all of the research regarding her care and paperwork. It was suggested to me by one of my uncles (the widower of my aunt who passed away of stage 4 colon cancer. She was also my best friend.) that I seek out a social worker at the cancer center where my mom is being treated for guidance. That will require my parents to give me all of their financial information which I don’t think my dad will do. He is hiding something. I can tell that he is lying to us about something, so I’m sure he won’t divulge his information. However, I guess I can just collect the information that I find, present it to him and my mother and hope they make the right decisions for themselves.


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