Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day is Every Day

Revanche, at A Gai Shan Life, has been writing for awhile about her need to financially support her parents and her disgust at her brother continuing to take adavantage of them. But buried in the heart of her posts is puzzlement that her parents are so vulnerable to her brother's needs while taking her help for granted.

I hear her, loud and clear.

I do wonder, sometimes, how my children see my entirely inconsistent financial assistance to them and if they harbor ill will either to me or to their sibings, as a result.

I have five daughters, each of them special to me in her own way, I adopted them as older children, and each was reared largely as an only child or, at most, with one other child in the home. All have special needs ranging from organic brain damage to severe emotional disturbance. I was warned that two of them might never be able to function on their own as adults. But they are all adults now, and they all do live outside my home.

I contribute, in various ways and amounts to all of my daughters and to their children. It rather shocked me to add everything up and discover that it comes to $653 a month.

Whenever I bring my expenses for my children and grandchildren up in this blog, I can count on (largely anonymous) responses about "enabling," and suggestions that my children will never learn good money management unless I stop helping them.

But most of my daughters are doing well, given their handicaps. They have jobs, they pay taxes, they care for their children. To demand that they also do a good job of managing their money is ignoring their intellectual and emotional limitations.

So I step in.

When I can't convince one daughter that auto insurance should be at the top of her list of expenses (instead of the first one eliminated when things get tight for her), I pay it. When one grandchild wants to go to college and is intellectually able to do so in spite of her more limited parents, I pay the tuition. When one child's health insurance does not cover dental, I tell her to go anyway and I pay the bill.

I buy monthly bus passes for two of my daughters, neither of whom can or should drive, both of whom have jobs.

And sadly, each month I deposit money for one of my daughters, whose behavior and addiction has landed her in jail. Jails, as I have discovered, charge for underwear, writing materials and stamps, all at exorbitant prices. And no, I can't just send those materials to her.

But it is this latter child who is most jealous of the amounts of money that go to her sisters. She normally gets SSI but once a person is in jail for more than 30 days, SSI payments are suspended. She feels like I should give money equally to each of my kids, which would increase the money I deposit for her.

I don't.

I don't treat my daughters equally. The amounts I spend are flexible though I've done it for so long now that most of the expenses are fixed.

When I get the 'enabling' responses, I do heed them. But then I think that these posters cannot know the mechanics of my family nor the issues my daughters struggle with on a daily basis.

What will happen when I die? Good question. My most seriously disturbed child (the one currently in jail) will have any money I leave her managed by a local foundation for special needs children. The others? I'm still working out the details. I may use the foundation for them, too, though they function at a much higher social level than the one receiving SSI. I do have a will, and at this point, they will be in charge of their own money once I die. But I may have to rethink that position.


Anonymous said...

You are a very good person.

Terry said...

Happy Mothers Day Grace! I agree with the previous poster you are a good person. And honestly forget those anonymous posters. Only you know the mechanics of your family life and can realistically assess their needs. In an ideal world, our adult children should be able to manage on their own but realistically that doesn't always happen . Good for you for being a good mom and grandma and stepping up to the plate for them. As for those anonymous bloggers, how many of them had the guts to adopt 5 special needs kids? Good for you!

Roberta said...

Wow. You are truly generous and I admire you. I will stop complaining right now about the large amounts of money I contribute to my grandsons well being.

Anonymous said...

Happy Mother's Day Ms Grace!

I just want to say, as a daughter who occasionally receives support from her mother, it's incredibly valued and appreciated.

I'm sorry you have such a difficult situation with the differences among your daughters and it's extremely difficult always wondering if you're doing the right thing for your children.

But, you have to do that which lets you mostly sleep at night.

Or so they say ;)

babybluewater said...

Wow, you are extremely selfless and a good example of how a mother should be.

Anonymous said...

Hi Grace,

Nobody really knows what your girls need and it's not their business. I think most of your readers know that they are special needs and require help from you. That they are all on their own is a testament to you. It probably could be a lot worse than $650 a month. I am all for chidren breaking financial strings from their parents but sometimes that is not possible. They are lucky to have you.

You are a good person.


MasterPo said...

In MasterPo's opinion, in this day and age it isn't at all unusual for a parent to need to help grown children.

The key is to decide if the kids need the help because of the situational realities of the world today, or, if they can't manage money. Hopefully the former and not the latter which would be enabling.

To that end, if MasterPo's children where fully grown, on their own, and needed help then, presuming MasterPo has done a good job teaching the kids about money, it's an honor and duty as a parent to help the next generation survive.

Taylor in TX said...

It seems like you have pushed your fledglings as far out of the nest as you can and that they are as independent as can be. I think that is a noble thing. Bus tickets and underwear and tuition? That's all that you provide? The millionaire next door author talks about parents that buy houses, cars, private tuition from primary through private university, and then annual contributions...seems like you haven't quite reached that part!

Love your blog, wish you would post more!

Anonymous said...

Grace, if the world had more parents like you who take in and adopt foster kids who would otherwise become wards of the state, we would truly have a more humane society. Bless you for your large heart and wisdom. I honor you and love your blog. Like the previous poster, I wish you would blog more often.

Donna Freedman said...

Grace: My daughter was left with some permanent impairment after a rare neurological disease. After some years of being unable to work she got on disability; a little over a year ago, blessed be, she found a job that lets her work from home. (Which is just as well, because her husband is also disabled.)
What I do for them -- and what you do for your daughters -- is no one's business. You and I know needs and we know what NOT to do, too. Lately, thanks to that job, there has been no need for aid other than a short-term loan when their car was totaled by a woman who drove into them. (Luckily, no one was hurt.)
I bought a life insurance policy so that when I die there will be a chunk of income they can use for a home or some other long-term security.
Bless you, and all the other moms who care.

Anonymous said...

I believe the individuals commenting that you are "enabling" your children should seriously look up the meaning of the word...just saying

retirement condos said...

That is really nice. You are a great example of a real good mother.