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Parasitic Parent
Old 10-26-2005, 12:02 PM   #1
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Parasitic Parent

I was curious if others here have had a similar experience and how they handled it.* My father moved in with me in late March as he had no better alternative and I was trying to "do the right thing" and help out someone in need.* He had been living with an acquaintance, who had decided to sell the house they were living in.* Fast forward to today and I have all but 100% decided to kick him out.

To summarize a lifelong story, my parents divorced when I was about 8.* As an adult, I can call a spade a spade and say my dad was basically an irresponsible deadbeat, with sporadic visitation and child support.* My older half-brother once even bailed him out of jail for not paying child support for me and my two younger brothers.* When I was 19, I got to be the one to move him from his long time girlfriend's house as she had kicked him out and he had no where to go.* He's had no steady home or job since and needless to say isn't in a very good financial situation ( ZERO savings ).* He's lived briefly with my half-brother, his sister, me for a few months a couple years ago, and in the MN Veteran's home.* I don't think he can even get a checking account due to bad credit and/or debts.* He has no car and I'm not sure he can even legally drive.*

I'm now 27 and live in a 1 BR apartment.* He has finally started receiving his pension and his Social Security is supposedly in the works.* I'm not sure if there is some garnishment going on or what but the wheels seem to be moving slowly on that.* He's healthy, but not willing to work except for pipe-dream ideas or infrequent odd-jobs.* His wise investments of his little income have recently included $20 in lotto scratch-offs, high-speed internet access, and cable TV.* Meanwhile, his teeth are literally falling out because he hasn't seen a dentist in so long.*

But, it's not the financial burden or the fact he doesn't take care of himself that really bugs me.* The living experience has been like "The Odd Couple" only less funny and more aggravating ( for me ).* Just a week after I confronted him about cigarette burns in my carpet, I came home this Sunday to find him smoking in my apartment AGAIN.* I have an outdoor deck where he could smoke to his heart's content, but I guess that would be too much work.* I take pride in keeping my things nice and that's just not something he does.* That's just one example, but representative of his carelessness.

Now, my lease is up at the end of Feb and I'm thinking of moving and not having him come along.* That gives him a few months to figure out what to do.* He's a veteran so he can always live at the Veteran's home ( which he has for several years before ) even though he doesn't like it there.* Otherwise, I figure SS and the pension should allow him to live ok on ~2000/month.

With all the negative things I've said about him, I still love him and it's not easy for me to think of kicking him out ( especially since he's been through it several times before ).* I'm kind of a recovered bleeding heart, but also believe people generally sleep in the beds they make for themselves.* Plus, sometimes the best way to "help" is to force someone to stand on their own.

The positive thing is his example has definitely cemented FIRE ( and just personal responsibility in general ) in my mind.* I'm at roughly 90k in net worth and that's being a single, lifelong renter at age 27.* There is NO way my kids ( when I have them ) will go through what I have.*

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Re: Parasitic Parent
Old 10-26-2005, 12:39 PM   #2
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Re: Parasitic Parent

Hopefully things will work out for the best, but there's a chance that I might be destined for a similar situation one day. My Dad is going to be 60 next year. He was a slacker for a goodly amount of his life, including when he and my Mom were married. She finally got fed up and they split up in 1977, when I was 7. About a year later, he moved to Florida, and I didn't see him again until I was 17.

Well, in late 1987, he came up here to visit, staying with my grandparents (his parents). And he never left! It turns out he had lost his license because of a DWI, and couldn't really get around down there, so he moved back up here. He had always drifted from job to job, with gaps of unemployment here and there, and for the longest time never managed to save up anything.

He does have a steady government job now, and he's contributing to whatever their equivalent of a 401k is. And a couple years ago, he was actually able to pay close to $13K cash for a used car, so he did finally start getting serious and saving some money. But the thing I'm worried about is that Grandmom passed away back in 1994 and now Granddad just turned 91, so he probably doesn't have too many years left. Hope he proves me wrong, though!

Anyway, when Granddad passes away, I think his estate will be split equally among him and his two brothers. I'm just worried that my Dad isn't going to be able to make it on his own when that time comes. On one hand, I don't want him living out on the street or in some bad neighborhood, but I know I don't want him living with me, either! I mean, I love him, but he gets on my nerves! After the divorce he skipped out on the child support around the time he moved to Florida, although he would send me money on my birthday and Christmas. And when he moved back up here, he actually footed about half of my college tuition! So for a deadbeat/slacker, I think he did what he could. My main problem with him now is that he's kind of turning into a cranky old man, and just gets too argumentative. I used to have to put up with that kind of crap from my Mom and stepdad when I lived with them, but since then I've pretty much gone by the credo that life's too short to live it around people that get on your nerves! I hate to say that about my own family, but sometimes they just give me a headache!

On the plus side, my Granddad did tell me once that he was charging my Dad rent, something like $500 per month. That made me feel a bit better, because I thought Dad had been living there for free, and that really made me worried that he'd never be able to make it on his own. Granddad's also been socking that $500 per month away, and I think has it set up so that when he passes away, Dad gets it separate from the rest of the inheritance. I don't know how long Granddad's been charging him (probably not the whole 18 years he's been back here!) but it might be a pretty nice chunk of change by now.

Still, I worry about when that time comes, and Granddad's gone. Another thing that Granddad confided in me once is that my Dad was never any good with money (something I already knew) and he asked me to look after Dad and help/guide him when that mournful time comes.
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Re: Parasitic Parent
Old 10-26-2005, 01:01 PM   #3
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Re: Parasitic Parent

Wow, tough situations. I like the line about learning from people, sometimes we learn what not to do from anothers example. All I can think of is trying to keep the financial and emotional parts separate. Let the family member know you care about them, know their birthdays and what is going on. Now you may still want to offer money and other means of support but it is complicated on how to do this. I have a cranky old uncle like this but fortunately I am 2,200 miles away and he has children of his own who get first pick. I did send small amounts of money to a wonderful old aunt who had only SS, but she was personally and emotionally functional until the last couple years of her life in a convalesant home. It was easy to be generous with really nice relatives who tried but didn't amount to much financially.
Good luck on whatever you decide.
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Re: Parasitic Parent
Old 10-26-2005, 03:00 PM   #4
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Re: Parasitic Parent

Sounds like you know what the problems are and what the solution is. You certainly arent going to change his behavior, so you either live with it or live without him.

I recommend a nice conversation about what you see as the problems, why they're untenable for you, what you've decided to do, and a firm but reasonable move-out date you both agree on.

Since it sounds like your problem is more with his habits than with him, make sure that shortly after he moves out, that you call him and take him out to dinner. Keep the relationship as intact as possible by staying in touch and taking on the onus of doing that. That will minimize the rejection as much as possible.

You do have another option, but that may not be financially feasible. Find some sort of small duplex or small rental house that has a "granny apartment" or "inlaw apartment" setup. Basically a small house for you and a separate room with entrance attached. Not easy to find but they're around. Make a financial pact to split the cost in a manner thats mutually agreeable. Let him live in his part and do whatever he wants in it while maintaining a symbiotic relationship that lets you spend more time together.
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Re: Parasitic Parent
Old 10-26-2005, 05:00 PM   #5
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Re: Parasitic Parent

Kick him out when you move in Feb. but warn him about it now.

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Re: Parasitic Parent
Old 10-26-2005, 08:14 PM   #6
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Re: Parasitic Parent

DON'T do a granny with a problem family member!

Tell him the date you are moving to your own digs, suggest he start apartment hunting and offer to pay a specific $ toward his first month's rent.
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Re: Parasitic Parent
Old 10-26-2005, 08:50 PM   #7
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Re: Parasitic Parent

Agreed that this needs to be a tough love decision. Otherwise, YOUR life will become more and more of a living hell. Agree with others that you need to be firm on an end date, make a first month contribution, and buy him lunch or dinner a few times a month. But no more beyond that. He has lived his life this way to now and he will not change.
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Re: Parasitic Parent
Old 10-26-2005, 09:40 PM   #8
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Re: Parasitic Parent

dunc, did you ever play the card game "Old Maid" when you were a kid? Well, you got the old maid that every one else was glad to have taken out of their hand. All the other players have scattered.

A common write-in to Dear Abby was the mother with a 30-something son who was living with her, that didn't work. Watched TV, ate well, and looked real shabby. But was always about to look for a job, but never did. And Abby's solution was always the same - why should the goldbrick work if he can laze around and sponge off of you?
Set a fixed date, and out he goes. And mean it, no if's ands or buts. And don't fall prey to the machinations that people like that have learned to pull to make people feel sorry for them. Spongers are expert at manipulating people.

Send him off with a clear conscience (yours!).
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Re: Parasitic Parent
Old 10-26-2005, 11:24 PM   #9
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Re: Parasitic Parent

Quote:
Originally Posted by dunc0029
I was curious if others here have had a similar experience and how they handled it.
This is a tough issue. Nobody is going to be able to advise you. It comes down to what you believe you owe your blood relatives -- a question usually left to religion.

I have a similar situation with a close relative. I feel obligated to ensure that they have food and shelter. I help them get public assistance. I listen to them gripe about how the world is against them. And I give them a low-limit credit card that was originally intended for emergencies, but that they use every month to nearly the full limit.

But that's where I draw the line. You need to decide for yourself where you draw the line.
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Re: Parasitic Parent
Old 10-27-2005, 08:07 AM   #10
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Re: Parasitic Parent

Quote:
Originally Posted by dunc0029
He has finally started receiving his pension and his Social Security is supposedly in the works. I'm not sure if there is some garnishment going on or what but the wheels seem to be moving slowly on that.

How old is he? Only the federal government, like the IRS, can take social security from you, otherwise it can't be garnished.
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Re: Parasitic Parent
Old 10-27-2005, 10:17 AM   #11
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Re: Parasitic Parent

Tough situation. I'm not sure someone that old can (or much less will) change their ways. On the other hand someone that old could be an expert on manipulating people who have money. Surely you aren't morally committed to making up for your parents' shortfalls, but neither could I throw them out in the cold. Not that those are the only options, but it seems like each end of the scale.

Upon further thought, if this person has been a "deadbeat" all his life he should have no problem finding the next person to live off of...he's good at that. He'll probably find a woman to take him in and listen to his sob stories. I've seen it happen before.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Martha
How old is he? Only the federal government, like the IRS, can take social security from you, otherwise it can't be garnished.
Really? That'll be a disappointment for my mother who has been planning on garnishing my dad's SS for $15k+ back child support. I don't guess she ever checked into the legalities of that.
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Re: Parasitic Parent
Old 10-27-2005, 11:03 AM   #12
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Re: Parasitic Parent

Quote:
Originally Posted by ()
You do have another option, but that may not be financially feasible.* Find some sort of small duplex or small rental house that has a "granny apartment" or "inlaw apartment" setup.* Basically a small house for you and a separate room with entrance attached.* Not easy to find but they're around.* Make a financial pact to split the cost in a manner thats mutually agreeable.* Let him live in his part and do whatever he wants in it while maintaining a symbiotic relationship that lets you spend more time together.
As long as his cigarettes don't burn down BOTH sides of the living arrangement.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dunc0029
I was trying to "do the right thing" and help out someone in need.
You did that, but as TH said, now you're recognizing that you're being used as a doormat. You guys could go on Dr. Phil, with the added bonus that he might pay for cosmetic dentistry.

You're not alone. The book "Elder Rage" is already in its second edition.

Kidding aside, you might want to consider moving all $$$, important possessions, records/papers, and valuable items out of the house before you announce the decision. You may also want to change all of your passwords and stop using your home PC until you've had it cleaned of keystroke loggers.
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Re: Parasitic Parent
Old 10-27-2005, 11:07 AM   #13
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Re: Parasitic Parent

Quote:
you might want to consider moving all $$$, important possessions, records/papers, and valuable items out of the house before you announce the decision. You may also want to change all of your passwords and stop using your home PC until you've had it cleaned of keystroke loggers.
Good advice.
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