I knew when I posted yesterday that I was going to get exactly the sort of responses that, indeed, I did get. There was the usual (anonymous!) rant against public benefits. There was the assumption that my kids are jobless leeches. There was the assumption that jobs and housing are plentiful for anyone willing to look for them.
I posted anyway, because it helps me to sort out my own thoughts about assisting my adult children and grandchildren.
For starters, keep in mind that I do not, for the most part, have "normal" children. I adopted older children from the foster care system who came to me with a myriad of issues, not all of them solved by love and good parenting. They continue to have intellectual and behavioral problems that impact their adult lives. I knew when I started parenting thirty years ago that my children were going to have special needs well into adulthood.
Due to my own financial misteps (Retirement savings? I can do that LATER! Credit cards? Life's gift to me, right?), I am in the position of scrambling to secure my future at the same time that I am helping my children and grandchildren secure theirs.
But I also know that I am a soft touch when it comes to my family, and that it helps none of us to allow family to take advantage of me.
Finding the middle ground is harder than it looks.
Some of the comments to my prior post are thoughtful and well-taken. Others, not so much. It is easy to rail against food stamps and unemployment compensation--unless of course one is unemployed, and needs the food stamps. Surely if this economy has taught us anything, it is that jobloss and hunger are NOT circumstances that always happen to the other guy. Sometimes it cuts close to home.
My daughter, for example, is sporadically employed. She found retail work during Christmas. She will pick up more during the census. But what she needs is a fulltime job, which has been difficult for her to find. She strung together enough parttime work to pay rent for most of last year. But when she got behind in October, her roommates could not pick up the slack. So, in November, she moved back home. If she's working, she pays me $100 a month for rent; if she's not, she cleans house once a week for me.
The two grandkids and their father moved in with me in September when Child Protective Services got involved with one of my other daughters, their mother. The father works fulltime, but at a minimum wage job. He takes advantage of public benefits like food stamps and Employment-related daycare. These programs have been a lifesaver for him. He's finding that parenthood is a lot harder than just sending child support (which, as a matter of fact, he had always been good about paying). I charge him $150 for rent, because his take home is not nearly enough to support himself and two children.
Unfortunately, my increased utility payments alone outweigh the small amounts of rent I'm getting.
I don't see that either my daughter, or my grandkid's family have the ability to pay me more, at least not right now. I also don't see the point in throwing either of them out.
Constructive input is invited. Actually, even the non-constructive kind will be read and considered.