Ask Amy

Monday, April 20, 2009 at 1:00am

DEAR AMY: My husband is retired, and I am retired on medical disability.

Our daughter and son-in-law moved to the state we live in about five years ago. They have repeatedly asked for and received loans amounting to thousands of dollars. Because my husband and I are no longer working, we can not afford to help support them. More money does not solve the problem. The problem is the choices they make.

I end up feeling guilty for not helping my daughter. She is an only child, and has learned well the art of making me feel guilty. When as a parent, are you no longer responsible for your child?

— Guilty Again

DEAR GUILTY: Your status as a parent lasts until you or your child leaves this earth. Your responsibilities change through time, however, and your child's responsibilities change, too.

You should not be on the hook for giving your daughter and son-in-law money if they are able-bodied adults capable of supporting themselves.

These are tough times and many families are buckling down and helping one another — and this is what families should do. Ironically, if you had given her less money through the years, you might have some to give her now — when she might have a real need.

It's a shame your daughter is able to push your "guilt" button so easily.

The only thing you should feel guilty about is the unfortunate fact that you raised her to be financially dependent, needy and manipulative.

Because you can no longer afford to "lend" your daughter money (they are not really loans if she doesn't repay you), she finally has the opportunity to support herself and face the consequences of her own choices.

Now she has a chance to finally grow up.

DEAR AMY: My boyfriend and I broke up a month ago but are still living together. We have been friends (just friends, no backsliding), and now he is moving out at the end of April, and I'm totally heartbroken.

He doesn't understand my feeling at all; I'm devastated. I guess I had hoped that we would eventually get back together, but I guess not.

I don't contact him when he isn't around, and when he is home I try to limit our contact because I'm just too hurt. How can I cope with this situation?

Will this get easier?

— Heartbroken

DEAR HEARTBROKEN: You are doing everything right, but your pain won't start to subside until your ex has left your shared home. Then you can commence the important process of gluing the broken shards of your heart back together.

I prescribe scented candles, long baths, Joni Mitchell recordings, movies that make you laugh and friends. Lots of friends.

Friends will listen to you, commiserate with you and shed a tear with you. Then, if you're lucky, they'll take you bowling. There is something about bowling a surprise strike and knocking all those pins down that is both cathartic and a celebration.

Your future is what you have -— and so you must get to the point where you can embrace it, wholeheartedly and with optimism.

I have been reading about the concept of people saving parking spaces. No one has mentioned how dangerous it is.

A few years ago, I went to see a couple of my grandchildren play soccer in a tournament. My daughter-in-law was minutes behind me.

I had just found a great parking space, with the car next to me just pulling out. Knowing that she was arriving with five kids and a cooler full of treats for the team and seeing that the parking lot was jammed, I stood in the spot to save it.

Within a few minutes an SUV with a family pulled up; the father rolled down his window and screamed at me. He then proceeded to drive into the spot even though I was still standing there.

If I hadn't jumped out of the way, we will never know what might have happened.

— Karen From Darien

Actually, I have raised the whole "car" versus "human" issue when it comes to "saving" spaces — and in general think it is very unwise to take on a car under any circumstances.

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