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 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.